301 E. Kootenai - Troy, Montana 59935 - Phone (406)295.4151

History of the City of Troy, Montana

Established: 1892 Did you know...

Former President Teddy Roosevelt's initials can be found on the side of the current city hall building...

Because of the deep ravines, dense forests and the steep mountains that characterize this area, the southern loop of the Kootenai was known as the Montana Wilds. Its ruggedness along with the fear of Indians kept it unsettled until gold was discovered in the mid 1860s. But not until the Great Northern railroad establish a freight division on the current town site, did it really begin to flourish.

In 1910, the great forest fires that raged through the area almost claimed the town. Railroad hoses soaked the downtown buildings while a locomotive was kept steamed up ready to evacuate the remaining residents and crews should the fire overtake them. A little luck and a shift in the wind saved the town.

There is some disagreement over how Troy got its name. Some say it took its name for a civil engineer working for the Great Northern. Others think the town was named for the Troy weight system, which was used to weigh silver and gold. Still others say that E.L. Preston named the town for Troy Morrow, the son of a family that was providing him with room and board while he surveyed the area for track and laid out the town site. It is this latter theory that is most accepted.


First miners arrive and set up a tent camp at the mouth of Lake Creek on the Kootenai River. The tent camp would be known as Lake Camp, Lake Creek Camp, and Lake City. Prospecting is begun along the Kootenai River, Lake Creek and the Cabinet Range behind Savage Lake.

On November 18, 1886, Bill Keeler located the Keeler Lode Claim on Grouse Mountain, the first claim to be located in the new mining district


Interest in Grouse Mountain increases as men report on good galena prospects.


Prospecting begins in the Callahan Creek drainage, south of Troy

On November 8, 1889, Montana Becomes the 41st State.

On November 20, 1889, the Welcome Guest, Northern Belle and Eldorado Lode claims were located by Paul Duffy, Arthur Asselin, Calvin Owens, John McQuade, Frank Schuseman, William Rawson and Brock Dougherty in Callahan Creek - later known as the Big Eight Mine.

Hiram Cartwright constructed a log cabin on his placer claim along the banks of Callahan Creek near the present day Troy Museum, the first building in Troy.


September 6, 1890: Hiram Cartwright a local prospector and minor located a 160 acre homestead west of Callahan Creek. Later sold to George Davis, who in turn sold the Cartwright Ranch to Robert Gregg on September 9, 1892.
The whole of what is now Troy was at one time a placer claim belonging to a man named Cartwright. When the railroad came in and the riffraff along with it, they jumped this claim, and once the citizens served a notice on them to leave, which they did, they came back again and started action in federal court in Helena.

September 22, 1890: Paul Duffy, Arthur Asselin, Calvin Owens, John McQuade, Frank Schuseman, William Houston and Brock Dougherty refiled the Welcome Guest, Northern Bell and Eldorado Lode claims in Callahan Creek as the Heron and Cabinet Lode Claims (later known as the Big Eight Mine).

December 9: Herykaha Placer Claim located by George Potter. Later patented on both sides of Callahan creek along the Kootenai River. March 17, 1891.


The Great Northern Railroad had begun to establish its camp on the eastern part of the Spokane and Kootenai Placer claim.

March 17: Spokane and Kootenai Placer were located by: James Freeman, William O'Brien, J.H. Shaw, J.D. MacLean, H.T. Fairlamb, J.L. Ross, James Rutherford, and W.H. Carson.
Between Herykaha Placer Claim and Lake Creek which was called Herykaha creek.

March 23: Mr. H.T. Fairlamb bought out his partners for $5000

December 4, 1891: Missoula Placer Claim located on the north side of Callahan creek.
By: George Leebrick; E. L. Preston (who was the chief civil engineer for the Great Northern, and who was also in charge of the survey party through the Kootenai River valley and later was credited with the naming of Troy.); M.E. Reed; E.M. Wardell; G.S. Wood; D.P. Ross; G.N. Dillman; H.J. Southworth.

June 2: Land Transaction for Lake City by H.T. Fairlamb, owner of the Spokane and Kootenai Placer Claim, situated near the mouth of Lake Creek, sold to William H. Brow, A.H. Maddock and H.E. Gardner, Lots 13 and 14 - Block 3, in a town site laid out by Mr. Fairlamb known and called Lake City, Missoula, County, Montana, for a sum of $45 (Quit Claim Deed Record Book 1, page 131).

June 19: Land Transaction, H. T. Fairlamb, owner of the Spokane and Kootenai Placer Claim, situated near the mouth of Lake Creek, sold to George R. Trask, Lot 18, Block 3 and Lots 23 and 24, Block 11, in a town site laid out by Mr. Fairlamb known and called Lake City, Missoula County, Montana (Quit Claim Deed Record Book 1, page 292)

August 21, 1891: James Stonechest located the Snowball Fraction Placer Claim.

December 4, 1891: Missoula Placer Claim (West Troy) located and filed on 12-31-1891. Located on the north side of Callahan Creek, and would later play an important part in the history of Troy. E. L. Preston, one of the locators, was one of the chief civil engineers for the Great Northern in charge of the survey party through the Kootenai River Valley and was later credited with the naming of Troy.

Winter of 1891/1892: Railroad grade work was finished. Crews moved westward, and Lake City rapidly declined.


Troy’s first lodging house, (hotel) was called the Windsor Hotel which dates back to 1892.

May 1st: Mr. Fairlamb sold his interest in the town site to William O'Brien, who was also one of the original partners in the Spokane & Kootenai Placer Claim.

At the time Mr. O'Brien was surveying Lake City, which he renamed Troy.

May 1892: Town site survey conducted by U.B. Nough, a civil engineer, on the Spokane and Kootenai Placer claim.

Encompassed the existing town site of Lake City.

June 1892: The town of Troy, Missoula County had been filed.

October 13: West Troy Declaration notarized by Samuel W. Childs.

First house built in Troy: J.P. Bowen (postmaster of Libby), across the street from the D.T. Wood's present residence in 1892, which he used for a store building.

September 1892: Great Northern decided in favor of Troy for the division yard.
A dedication of occupancy was filed on a new town site called West Troy. Located on the Missoula Placer Claim.

September 9,1892: Pine Tree Placer Claim was filed. Locators included D. M McLeod, Jay H. Adams, D.W. Henley, Henry Lunn, A.M. Scott, John Wetzel, John Langman, and H. Preston.
Located northwest and adjacent to the Missoula Placer Claim.

September 1892: Troy (Lake City) became alive as the railroad division yard work began.
Between 500 to 600 railroad men converged on the town. Carpenters and track layers arrived to work an the new division yard. Many of the people interested in land in and around West Troy were the railroad men and their families who preferred to live close to the railroad yard rather than walk a mile from Troy (Lake City) to go to work.

A new roundhouse, coal chute, ice house, depot, sand house, railroad yard, and assorted living quarters for the crews was built.

Oct. 10, 1892: West Troy was declared (located in what the Lake City area)

December 1892: The division yard was completed. Construction crews left town, leaving just the men who would be working in the new yard.

Mrs. D.T. Wood arrived in December of 1892 and later wrote;
”Arriving in Troy one evening her husband met her at the depot and they walked up through the town! Such sights and sounds that met the eyes and horrified the ears of this young woman from the east, were spectacular to say the least. Fifteen saloons gaily lit filled to the doors with “wild men and wild women” yelling, singing, dancing, and cursing, with glasses held high, such was Troy. Two large dance halls were in evidence, one grocery store run by John Bowen, several “beaneries” (called restaurants by some), one drug store owned by “Doc” Sailey and many shacks and tents where the “wild women” congregated. Fights and ribaldry were the order of the days and nights.”
(Wood, 1926:3)


Note: Lake City, moved to West Troy

On April 10, 1893, Arthur Hayes sold to George Leebrick, a placer claim 1/4 mile west of Callahan Creek on the Kootenai River.

On June 13, 1893, Frank Stonechest, Robert Hulse, James Stonechest and Bart Downey located the Banner and Bangle Lode Claims in Callahan Creek

Old Tom Dobson, who ran a grocery store at Lake City, moved his store and Post Office into Troy.

From the book Troy, Montana Yesterdays, No. 2 by Marjorie Pomeroy, page 7;
"By 1893 when the railroad buildings were completed, most of the worst element of the town were drifting away to fairer fields and pastures new."


October 1894: The Troy Mining and Improvement Company was organized. Mr. Preston was the secretary of this company.

Troy built their own school building with all eight grades represented.


June, 1895: Gold was discovered on Friday Hill in the Yaak River Valley starting a “stampede to the Yahk.” Within a month mining camps sprung up and the beginnings of the town of Sylvanite is located at the mouth of Fourth of July Creek.

July 21, 1895: Work began on the Troy Ferry across the Kootenai River to catch some of the Yahk Valley traffic and trade.

September: G.E. Shawler began the first newspaper, The West Troy Times. Published weekly and was in business until 1896.

November 7, 1895: E. L. Preston completed surveying lots, blocks, streets, avenues, and alleys for the townsite of West Troy.

December 1895: Mr. Preston won the case against Northern Pacific.


On March 1,1896 the Troy - Sylvanite Wagon Road was declared a public highway by the Flathead County Commissioners.

March 14: Town site dedicated by the Troy Mining, Power and Improvement Company. (Spokane Daily Chronicle, 1964)

On April 16, 1896 the Banner & Bangle Mining Company was formed.

The gold town of Sylvanite grows as mining and prospecting take place in the new mining district. Some of the Troy business men move to the new town while some opened a second store there.


On February 19,1897 the Big Eight Mining Company Incorporated.

A crude road system was in place connecting Kalispell with Spokane.


By early spring the new Troy-Sylvanite Wagon Road is completed and stage service between the two towns began.

Mines close at Sylvanite and the town becomes deserted by the end of the year.


August 1906: Windsor Hotel destroyed by Troy’s first major fire. It was completely destroyed in a fire in August 1906, then rebuilt one year later with 31 hotel rooms on the second story.


The new Windsor Hotel construction was completed in the fall of 1907. It was a two story building. The entire second floor consisted of 31 hotel rooms. A saloon, dining room, kitchen, hotel office, and manager’s living quarters were on the first level.

Kootenai National Forest created.


The great forest fires that raged through the area almost claimed the town. Railroad hoses soaked the downtown buildings while a locomotive was kept steamed up ready to evacuate the remaining residents and crews should the fire overtake them. A little luck and a shift in the wind saved the town.


Highway 2 was first proposed.
First caravan of tourists arrive by automobile.
Bridge built to cross Kootenai River.


Troy’s first auto garage was called the City Garage.

February 17, 1915: Sonic boom from an air force plane wakens the town.
March 12, 1915: The Troy Volunteer Fire Department officially became active with the acceptance of their petition by the County Commissioners. The new fire department received a chemical engine and necessary equipment to run it by the time the first Troy Council Meeting was held in September.

By the summer of 1915 there was a drive to incorporate the town of Troy. In July of 1915 the people of Troy voted for incorporation. Election for town officers soon followed and on September 9, 1915 the first meeting of the town council was held.
In the minutes of the meeting, the newly elected Mayor, H.D. Whiting, with R.E. Clay and F.B. Callow councilmen from the 1st Ward and Henry E. Weidner councilman from the 2nd Ward began the task of establishing a local government.
The first Council Meeting was held on September 1915.

Population was now at 350, and Highway 2 (Teddy Roosevelt Highway) was completed.


The Snow Storm Silver Lead Company opened the old Banner and Bangle Mines, constructing a 500 ton concentrator just outside of town which employed 100 to 125 men.

The Troy Fire Department ordered a new 500 pound bell in June 1916.
07-04-1916: The 4th of July Parade was an auto parade.


At the end of September, or in the early weeks of October is when the Spanish influenza made its way into Troy.
As a result, both the Snowstorm Mill and the Troy Schools closed.


By 1921 the town of Troy was growing faster than construction crews could build new businesses and homes. The town originally owed its prosperity and existence to the Great Northern Railway Company. They decided to establish a division point on the line in town. The Great Northern Railway Company was maintaining a payroll of over 100 employees.


Sandpoint Lumber & Pole Company built a large sawmill and planer near the town.


The first major timber sale had been awarded to the Sandpoint Pole and Lumber Company. By 1923 the sawmill had been built and was operating.
Troy was now the richest town in Lincoln County with a population at over 1200 people.


January 9, 1924: T.S. King sold F.B. Callow a half interest in “All the original town site of Troy, Montana for $2250.00. The land was later subdivided as the Callow Tract and was approved as the “Callow Addition to West Troy” on June 2, 1925.

By 1924 Troy was beginning to prosper. The town’s population was over 1000.

November 13, 1924: Lincoln Theatre Opens
Located on the lots across the street from Kenzie's Hall.
Original plans called for a building 28 x 80 feet, one story, 20 feet high. With a balcony with a capacity of 122 seats. The full house capacity of 350 seats. There was a stage for vaudeville purposes which was 16 feet by 20 feet with dressing rooms on either side.

December 1924: Lincoln Theatre sold to W. L. Casey on a five year lease. W.L. Casey operated a string of movie houses through northern Idaho and Western Washington.


May 1925: The Lincoln Theatre has a new sidewalk, and a popcorn and peanut roasting machine are in one of the front entry rooms.


April: Great Northern Railway discontinued the round house.
In December 1926 the Great Northern would close down the Troy Division Yard. The freight terminal in Troy.


Fire destroyed the concentrator building of the Snow Storm Silver-Lead Mining Company, which closed it's mine.
1927 would see another loss for the city. The Snow Storm Silver Lead Mining Company concentrator had burned to the ground. The mines closed.

Troy’s population had peaked during the winter of 1926 and 1927. The population of the town was between 1200 and 1300.


In 1928 a fire destroyed the Sandpoint Pole and Lumber Company sawmill, and the company had finished it’s logging contract the following year.


The great depression ended any chance of rebuilding the concentrator and sawmill.
Kinzie Hall destroyed in fire.


By 1930 the population of Troy was down to 498 people.


February 6, 1931: Talking movies at the Lincoln Theatre.


In 1932 the Windsor Hotel name was changed to the Great Northern Hotel.


November: The owner of the Great Northern Hotel property was the Kootenai Valley State Bank.


Both the Great Northern Hotel (old Windsor Hotel) and property were sold to Lena Rives on January 20, 1938.


August 6, 1941, fire destroyed the Great Northern Hotel and it was never re-built.
A part of the old Windsor Hotel is currently used as an outdoor band area by the Club Bar today.
Lot 16, the other half of the old Windsor Hotel and Lot 17, Ernie’s Market is now the fenced in yard used by the ACCO Cable Shop.


Lincoln Theatre remodeled. Seating capacity is now 170.

Tidbits - Bits and pieces of Troy's History

The miners | The Troy Ferry

A lot of the information obtained for this History was from the following various sources, of which I wish to express my gratitude for their information.
Jim Calvi and his various books regarding the Troy History. Information used with permission.
Lester Coffman in personal interviews.
Phone conversations with Roger Kensler and Marian Carr.
Other information was obtained from a visit to the Troy Museum, and in reading the information from the newspaper articles.
Additional information was obtained by visiting the Lincoln County Clerk and Recorder's Office and the helpful assistance they provided.

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