History of the “18”

SEPTEMBER 12, 2019
If you’ve ever been here, you know that Beaverhead County is pretty special. But to really understand what makes it our favorite place, you need to go back in time.

Beaverhead County (you’ll know its residents by the “18” on our license plates) is located in the southwestern corner of Montana. It was organized as one of the original territorial counties in the state on Feb. 2, 1865. The name “Beaverhead” dates back to the Lewis and Clark expedition when Sacajawea pointed to a rock and explained to the explorers that her people called it that because it resembled a beaver’s head.

Beaverhead County is the largest county in Montana at 5,572 square miles. That makes it about the size of Connecticut.

Beaverhead County enjoys a rich place in Montana history. Montana’s oldest town, Bannack City, is located in Beaverhead County. Once a prosperous gold mining town, Bannack is now a ghost town that is a National Historic Landmark. Visit during the annual Bannack Days celebration, held over the third weekend in July, for a look back at what it must have been like to live there during the boomtown days.

Agriculture has always been a part of our culture here. In fact, Beaverhead County is the home and namesake of a device that changed the way many farms were able to stack and preserve large amounts of hay for long periods of time. The beaverslide was invented in the early 1900s by two Beaverhead County ranchers. Originally called the Beaverhead County Slide Stacker, the name was shortened to “beaverslide.” The device was inexpensive, mobile and able to handle large amounts of hay. 

If you ask us, though, we think it’s the vibe of Beaverhead County that makes it so special. We are an inclusive community of diverse people. We love our sports and subscribe to the theory, “the smaller the town, the bigger the game!” That applies to all ages, middle school through college. We love a good high school basketball game but enjoy the annual collegiate Cat vs. Griz rivalry between Montana State University and the University of Montana just as much. Our schools are top notch, and we pride ourselves on the education our children get here.

Local events keep us busy year-round. In the summer, the Beaverhead County Fair is the social event of the season. We look forward to meeting our friends and neighbors there, catching up on happenings, checking out the exhibits, speculating on which “fat animal” will be the grand champion and talking about the upcoming football season. After the fair wraps up, it’s time for Montana’s Biggest Weekend, the Labor Day Rodeo, put on by the Dillon Jaycees. The rodeo, concert and parade make for a memorable weekend each summer. If you haven’t been yet, put it on your to-do list.

Did we mention the outdoor recreation? It’s hard to pick the best season of the year. Whether you like snow sports, water sports, fall sports or summer sports, we have it all! We are truly a four-season venue with some of the best hunting, fishing, skiing, mountain biking and horseback riding in the Mountain West.

So, why Beaverhead County? We are great neighbors, caring friends and hospitable people. We don’t want this place to become somewhere else; we like it just the way it is. It’s a happening place that has managed to maintain its small-town charm. Come visit us and you’ll see what we mean!


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