While the Gallatin Valley is beautiful, and was called by the late Theodore Roosevelt, “a fair dimple in the cheek of nature,” when he visited here a number of years ago, the valley is recognized as one of the most productive in the state.
In early days, wheat and oats with several kinds of vegetables were the principal products, and there was some wild hay put up. Later, barley was a standard product, and then crops of clover, timothy and alfalfa became especially important. Potatoes have been one of the principal vegetables in the valley since pioneer days, and records were made of wagonloads of potatoes taken to Helena and Virginia City in 1866, and sold for 13 cents a pound. Some sugar beets are raised in the valley now, but they are shipped to factories in other parts of Montana.
With the large plant of the Bozeman Canning Company in Bozeman, peas and beans for canning have been raised on a large number of farms in Gallatin Valley, and carrots and peas in combination have also been canned. Seed peas are raised for shipment to other states, as well as for home use. During the canning season and the sorting of seed peas, employment is given to a large number of men and women of the community.
Strawberries, raspberries, lettuce and onions have been shipped to market in other states during recent years, and vegetables of nearly all kinds are raised for home consumption. Wild raspberries, gooseberries, currants, chokecherries, service berries, huckleberries and buffalo berries growing along the streams or on the mountain sides were found very helpful for table use and preserving in pioneer days, and they were often brought to the homes by friendly Indians to trade for sugar, trinkets and other articles that took their fancy. There are still chokecherries in many places and a few huckleberries and buffalo berries, but only a few wild raspberries or wild strawberries are found, largely on account of cattle pasturing along the streams and the removal of much shrubbery along the creeks.