“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Hamilton in Ravalli County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)

Hamilton Commercial Historic District

Hamilton Commercial Historic District Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 11, 2018
1. Hamilton Commercial Historic District Marker
Inscription. Hamilton was born of the Anaconda Company’s voracious appetite for lumber, nurtured on the Bitterroot apple boom, and sustained by medical research. Copper King Marcus Daly—whose Big Mill cut millions of board feet annually to feed his mines and smelter—created this timber town after coming to the area to raise race horses. Working as Daly’s front man, engineer James Hamilton quietly bought 160 acres from area farmers. He platted the townsite in 1890, with Main Street running between the Big Mill on the west and the railroad on the east. By 1893, over forty businesses had opened downtown, catering to the mill workers whose heavy boots resounded on the wooden boardwalks that lined Main Street. Fearful of fire, downtown merchants steadily replaced many of Hamilton’s earliest false-front wooden buildings with buildings constructed from locally manufactured brick or blue-gray stone quarried in nearby Corvallis. New money arrived in Hamilton after 1907 with the Bitterroot apple boom. Hamilton’s population burgeoned to three thousand, and its downtown gained several stylish architect-designed buildings, identifiable by their high-fire brick, metal mullion storefronts, and leaded glass transoms. In the 1920s and 1930s the Rocky Mountain Laboratory, founded to combat spotted fever, sustained Hamilton’s economy, and up-to-date business owners introduced a sleeker architectural style to downtown. Designed by Missoula architect H. E. Kirkemo, the Bower Building at South Second and West Main typifies the smooth lines fashionable in the 1930s, while the wood-frame false-front building at 411 West Main reflects the community’s earliest history.
Erected by Montana Historical Society.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Montana National Register Historical Markers marker series.
Location. 46° 14.82′ N, 114° 9.582′ W. Marker is in Hamilton, Montana, in Ravalli County. Marker is on West Main Street (State Highway 531) near 4th Street, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 340 West Main Street, Hamilton MT 59840, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. United States Post Office (here, next to this marker); 337 West Main (a few steps from this marker); Telephone Exchange (within shouting distance of this marker); Carnegie Library (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); City Hall (about 400 feet away); First National Bank (about 700 feet away); Daly Mansion (approx. 1.6 miles away).
Categories. Industry & CommerceSettlements & Settlers
Credits. This page was last revised on September 20, 2018. This page originally submitted on September 20, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 42 times since then. Photo   1. submitted on September 20, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.
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