Railroads and Electricity

The Northern Pacific Railroad, the first to reach this part of the northwest, arrived in Bozeman, March 21, 1883, and the arrival was celebrated as an important event in the history of the city. In the parade from the court house to the depot during the afternoon of that day, C. P. Blakely was grand marshal, and his aides were followed by Company D, second cavalry from Fort Ellis; saluting party with gun; Bozeman Board of Trade represented by Walter Cooper, president; J. V. Bogert, secretary; Peter Koch, treasurer; C. W. Hoffman, J. Ellis and J. S. Mendenhall; survivors of the Yellowstone expedition of 1874 with the Big Horn gun band; invited guests; H. N. Maguire, orator of the day; delegation of oldest citizens; societies in regalia and other citizens of the county and of the territory.

Among the distinguished citizens of the United States on the train which later passed through Bozeman for the driving of the golden spike at Gold Creek, marking the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad across Montana, September 23, 1883, was General Northern Pacific train on way to Bozeman, after coming out of Rocky Canyon, west end of the Bozeman Pass.

U. S. Grant, former president of the United States, and Henry Villard, then president of the road. Bozeman citizens greeted them at the depot, and some of the local citizens went on the train to Gold Creek for the celebration.

When the Bozeman tunnel was built through mountains between Livingston and Bozeman, an early pioneer of Montana, John F. Work, who came west in 1862, and during the later years of his life resided in Bozeman, had the contract for the excavation and the tunnel was completed by eastern engineers.

Electric Power

The use of electric power for lighting in Bozeman and Gallatin County was inaugurated in February 1887, when a franchise was granted to the Bozeman Electric Company, incorporated by George W. Wakefield, W. W. Livingston and others. A machine of thirty arc lights capacity, purchased from the General Electric Company, was installed in the old McAdow Mill in the eastern part of Bozeman, using waterpower, which served the purpose until the plant passed into other hands, when a larger ditch was built and an alternating machine was installed in 1890. Two years later, the Gallatin Light, Power and Railway Company was organized and took over the plant, adding additional machinery to furnish power for the street railway that ran from the Northern Pacific depot to Montana State College for several years.

The plant was enlarged again in 1904, and in 1906, the Madison River Power Company completed their transmission line from the Madison Canyon Station, and with the gradual improvements to the line, the use of electricity was extended for lighting, cooking and for power for mills, elevators and other machinery, not only in Bozeman, but throughout Gallatin County, not only in the towns or cities but in many rural districts. The local plant was finally taken over by the Montana Power Company.

Suburban Electric Train

The Suburban car established by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad in 1909, from Bozeman to Bozeman Hot Springs and to Salesville, later called Gallatin Gateway, was electrified. This service was discontinued in 1930. The Milwaukee road which has electric service from Three Forks over part of the road on the regular train service in Montana, has a branch road from Three Forks to Bozeman, especially for freight service, with limited accommodations for passengers, and during the Yellowstone Park season runs limited Pullman trains from the through trains at Three Forks to Gallatin Gateway, where coaches from the Park Transportation Company take passengers on the trips through Yellowstone Park, from the Milwaukee’s fine hotel, the Gallatin Gateway Inn.

Source: Early History of Gallatin County, Montana

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