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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Virgelle in Chouteau County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
 

Virgelle State Bank

 
 
Virgelle State Bank Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 23, 2020
1. Virgelle State Bank Marker
Inscription.  Homesteaders, travelers, and railroad crews helped the tiny town of Virgelle thrive during the 1910s. Town founder Virgil Blankenbaker chartered the Virgelle State Bank in 1917 where he, his brother-in-law John G. Chancellor, C. J. McNamara, and prominent ranchers E. B. Newhall and Thomas Marlow served on the board of directors. Folks came to town to do their banking, pick up their mail, buy supplies, and catch up on local news. Drought and depression in the 1920s left few local homesteaders, but the bank was among six of nineteen in Chouteau County to remain viable during the hard times. Lack of business, however, forced liquidation and closure in 1927. Through the next decades neighbors rowed across the river, brought their wagons or drove their Model T’s to Saturday night card games, dances, and midnight suppers held in the empty one-room bank building. In winter, guests sometimes waited till dawn to cross the river, maneuvering around ice. The bank became the residence of railroad employee Leon Watson in 1941 when he tired of crossing the river to report to the depot for work. In 1985, the Burlington Northern, successor of the Great Northern
Virgelle State Bank and Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 23, 2020
2. Virgelle State Bank and Marker
Railway, abandoned its Virgelle line and today no trace of the railroad remains, but the bank survives intact as a symbol of Blankenbaker’s vision. High ceilings, wood floors, and the original vault convey its original use. The Neo-Classical style building eloquently represents the small town banks that once dotted homestead-era Montana and the greater forces that gave shape to the state’s rural communities.
 
Erected by Montana Historical Society.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureIndustry & CommerceRoads & Vehicles. In addition, it is included in the Montana National Register Sign Program series list.
 
Location. 48° 0.885′ N, 110° 14.967′ W. Marker is in Virgelle, Montana, in Chouteau County. Marker is on Virgelle Ferry Road North, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7450 Virgelle Ferry Road North, Loma MT 59460, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Virgelle Mercantile (within shouting distance of this marker); Coal Banks Landing (approx. 1.3 miles away); An Island on the Plains (approx. 13 miles away); Cow Island Trail (approx. 13.1 miles
The old bank safe image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 23, 2020
3. The old bank safe
away); Judith Landing (approx. 13.1 miles away); Fort Walsh Trail (approx. 13.1 miles away); Big Sandy (approx. 13.1 miles away).
 
Virgelle State Bank, interior image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 23, 2020
4. Virgelle State Bank, interior
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 19, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 4, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 31 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on December 4, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.
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Mar. 7, 2021