Maps, Locations and Miscellaneous Geographical Facts

Toole County Map from 1914 Gold Butte: A Ghost Town
How Shelby Got Her Name Historic Shelby Photos

Toole County Communities

What's in a Name?

Kevin  – named after Thomas Kevin, superintendent of the Alberta Railway & Irrigation Company.

Shelby  – named in honor of Peter O. Shelby, general manager of the Montana Central Railway.

Shelby was named after Peter P. Shelby, general manager of the Montana-Central Railroad. In 1891 the Great Northern was making its way to Marias Pass; the builders threw a box car from the train and called it a station. Shelby himself is believed to have said that Shelby wouldn't amount to much. He was wrong; Shelby grew into a distribution for a trade center for 50 miles in every direction.

In the late 1890s the town was a cowboy town with hardly any fences or homesteaders. By 1913 there were 5,000 entries for land in just one office. Homesteaders flooded into the area. The homesteaders suffered droughts and became very desperate. By the 1920s there was an exodus of homesteaders. In 1921 Gordon Campbell, a geologist, found oil that stretched all the way to the Canadian border. New life came to Shelby. Shelby is historically significant for the Dempsey-Gibbons World Heavyweight Championship prizefight held there on July 4, 1923. An excellent Indian artifact collection is on display at the Toole County Library.

The Marias River, named after Meriwether Lewis' cousin, winds its way through town, past the Marias Valley Golf Course and Country Club as well as Williamson Park, where camping and outdoor recreation can be found. While in town, visit the Marias Museum of History and Art for a look at area history, homesteading, a dinosaur collection and more. Nearby, the Sweet Grass Hills offer hiking and wildlife viewing, although they are almost exclusively on private property (434-7184). Deer, antelope, elk, foxes, golden eagles, grouse and the unique �sweet grass� can be seen in these hills. North of town, Lake Shel-oole offers camping and outdoor recreation (434-7184).

Elevation: 3,086 feet  Shelby is located in northcentral Montana, 36 miles from the Canadian border Ref:  Travel Montana

Sunburst  – In the spring of 1907 a young man named W.G. Davis moved from Alberta, Canada, to his new ranch in Montana located in the shadow of West Butte, one of three small mountains commonly known as the Sweet Grass Hills, the other two being named East Butte and Gold Butte. Early one morning while looking after his flock of sheep, young Davis saw the sun suddenly burst over West Butte spreading myriads of colors over the morning sky. He was so impressed that he named his land “Sunburst Ranch.” A few years later Mr. Davis acquired more land and in 1913 together with Bill O’Haire and Albert Goeddertz, neighboring landowners, he helped organize the community and plat a town site, part of which was located on Mr. Davis’ “Sunburst Ranch.” It was incorporated in 1925 and at the suggestion of Mr. Davis called “Sunburst.” This was a sparsely settled and peaceful cattle, sheep and faring country until in 1922 Gordon Campbell, a geologist, discovered oil, which started a boom.

Sources: Employment Report for Toole County, Montana -- Annual 2005 Industry Summary Data source: U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW)."CBP TODAY" Oct/Nov 2004. Montana Historical Society: Education Office, 2002. "Great Northern Railway Origin of Station Names" Great Northern Railroad.


Last Update 13 May 2014