Gallatin City, located near the three forks of the Missouri River, a town not now in existence, was the first county seat of Gallatin County, being so named by the legislative assembly when the county was created. An act authorizing the people of the county to vote at the general election in 1867 to locate the county seat was approved by the territorial legislature on December 14, 1866. The election was held on Christmas day, 1867, when Bozeman was chosen as the county seat by 475 votes, nearly 200 majority over Farmington, the other principal candidate, with a few votes for Gallatin City. The act of the legislature granting the people permission to vote for the county seat, provided that it should be named Farmington, this being a plan of C. P. Blakely, representative to the legislature, who aimed to have the county seat on his Middle Creek farm. Bozeman was therefore known officially for a few months as Farmington, but the legislative assembly adjusted the matter at the next session, and Bozeman has continued as the county seat.
Description of the County
Gallatin County lies just west of the Bridger range of mountains. The valley is from 4,500 to 4,600 feet above sea level. It is surrounded on nearly all sides by high mountains, some of the lofty peaks retaining snow that may be seen practically all summer from the valley. These mountains are storehouses for the snows of winter that in the spring and summer melt slowly and come down the mountain streams for irrigation to some of the land in the valley.
In some of these mountains are springs and lakes forming the nucleus for reservoirs, providing water systems for some of the cities in the valley. The high mountains give protection from severe storms such as prevail in some of the plains countries, and provide cool nights following the hot summer days. The county is abundantly watered. The Madison River is on the west side, while the East Gallatin and the West Gallatin with their tributaries, Middle Creek, Spanish Creek, Bozeman Creek. Rocky Creek, Bridger Creek, Spring Creek, Cottonwood, Bear Creek. Flathead and others, issuing from a semi-circle of lofty mountains, cut through surrounding foothills and flow rapidly over gravelly beds down the length and breadth of the rich valley, until they unite to form the Gallatin River, which helps to form the Missouri.