Dixon is a nearly deserted town on Highway 200 known previously as Plum River and Jocko and was later named Dixon when the Reservation opened, honoring the governor of Montana. The Northern Pacific came through in 1883-1886. By 1909 there was a hotel, mercantile, lumber yard, and livery. When the bank failed and much of the town burned in the second decade of the last century, the hotel and hardware store closed. And then the railroad built a spur line up the valley, taking the remainder of business away from Dixon.
Old Agency, a couple of miles north of Dixon, was one of the Flathead agencies headquarters were homes were built for tribal members. Businesses was brought to the Indian agency and it somewhat helped Dixon. The census of 2000, showed 95 individuals, 31 households, and 23 families residing here. The racial makeup of the community was 15.79% White, 78.95% Native American.
Perma thrived around Edward Mulick who built a store, restaurant and tavern. At one time the train stopped at the station and there was a school.
Paradise may be named after a roadhouse or tavern called “Pair O’Dice”. It was originally a station for the Northern Pacific Railroad. Today dozens of rail cars are stored along the multiple tracks. It was a booming town when Northern Pacific used the facilities as a main stop with hotels, bars and restaurants. A cable ferry crossed the river here.
Plains, originally called Wild Horse Plains and Horse Plains, is one of three incorporated towns in the county. Dozens of businesses thrive here including motels, gas stations and convenience stores, dress shop, auction house, car dealership, grocery, farm and garden stores. The first built depot in what was then Missoula county was built at Horse Plains. There was also a section house, telegraph office and post office which was temporarily shut down by the government.
Weeksville was a railroad construction camp starting with 50-75 employees in late 1881 to as many as 2,000 at the beginning of January 1883 from some sources, yet others claim 4,000 Chinese and 2,000 white men headquartered here. The town vanished but today is a rich farming area. Construction materials were furnished by Eddy, Hammond & Company of Missoula. It was named for I.S.P. Weeks an assistant engineer for the Northern Pacific in charge of the Missoula division. A city government was proposed in 1882 but voters rejected the proposal. Here a sawmill was built. Major W Shepherd, RE., who in his Prairie Experiences in Handling Cattle and Sheep, published in 1884, found it easy to repeat the story told by persons met on the road to Weeksville, Montana. ‘Weeksville is very lively,’ travellers told him. ‘Nine men had been shot or hung by the Vigilantes during the past fortnight’. A New York Times article claimed that Billy the Kid was shot and killed at Weeksville, but many men of that era made the claim years after the real Billy the Kid was killed. There was a ferry for transport across the river.
Eddy or Eddy Flats
Eddy or Eddy Flats was named for Richard A. Eddy, a signer of the 1884 Montana constitution, who was in the area on an inspection of railroad work. The community had 25 log buildings which included a hotel, businesses, and residences. Eddy secured a contract to supply the railroad with twelve million feet of ties, timber and lumber and a sawmill was constructed. The mill closed in 1900 and burned down within a few months.
Snider (or Snyder)
Snider (or Snyder) is two miles up the Thompson River Road. First Peoples, early traders, and other travelers traversed Thompson River from what is now Highway 2 to the confluence of this river with Clarks Fork of the Columbia. A copper mine was located near where Copper King is today. Under President Franklin D Roosevelt, the Civilian Conservation Corps was formed and a large camp was built at Snyder. Many of the original structures remain including dorm housing, administration building and sheds.
The original Thompson Falls
The original Thompson Falls nearly died as those seeking access to the Coeur d’Alene gold mines in 1883 passed it by and went to Belknap some seven miles west to cross over the Bitterroot Mountains. But when the locals convinced Northern Pacific to stop and let passengers off since an easier road up Prospect Creek had been enhanced reach Idaho’s gold towns, a new bustling town developed below the tracks in March 1884, and the contract made with Belknap as a stop was threatened. Today several of the town’s brick buildings still stand after 100 years. The town was selected as county seat when Sanders was separated from Missoula County in 1905. A courthouse and jail were built, work soon began on the dam spanning the falls on the Clark Fork River that was completed in 1912, bridges were built crossing the river, and residential and commercial building exploded. Logging was the primary industry with several mills built to accommodate the product.
Belknap was a bustling community between the discovery of gold in the Coeur d’Alenes and when the Prospect Creek Trail (that followed present-day Thompson Pass) opened. A newspaper, bank, hotels, Chinese laundry, tavern, post office, and depot were built. At the turn of the Twentieth Century a sawmill operated by the Grandchamp family was erected. That property is on the Ben Cox ranch, Little Beaver Creek Road and Highway 200. The country store is owned by a Mennonite family and features produce, bulk foods, a deli, and in an adjacent building feed for the many farm animals in the area. The second school in the area retains its original flavor but is now a residence. Old maps show the route the Belknap Trail took from the town site to the Coeur d’Alenes. Was it a coincidence that when the Prospect Creek Trail opened and the train stopped in Thompson Falls, Belknap burned in August 1884?
White Pine was a bustling little town, along with neighboring Alger, until the Great Fire of 1910 wiped out many of the farmers’ homes and business structures. The old school is used as a community center. Headstones at a nearby cemetery read like a who’s who of the area.
Alger was named for Joseph M. Alger and was originally called Beaver. Charlie Gardner’s ranch is now on the site of the original town which boasted 11 structures including Donlan’s sawmill. The Alger Marketing Association built a large warehouse and this structure served as a social gathering spot. As a result of the 1910 fire, the school and post office closed, Donlan’s mill moved, and many residents left.
Trout Creek, site of an annual Huckleberry Festival, was wiped out in the 1910 fire. A nearby community named Larchwood exists on signs and memories only. Several businesses thrive to serve travel-weary folks. A ranger station houses men and women intent on protecting our forests.
Noxon was also a route to the gold fields for those hearty enough to make the trip by foot. Timber and trapping and the excitement of forging the railroad through the area introduced early settlers to the excitement of the west. Remnants of mines can still be seen in the hills behind the town which lies across the river from Highway 200.
Heron is accessed by a one-way bridge built in 1952 across the river. The 1910 fire spared Heron but another fire in 1921 that started in the mill destroyed much of the town. It’s claimed that the population stays at 149 souls. Children attend school at Noxon now. When the Northern Pacific came through the area it received every odd section of land for 30 miles on each side of the right-of-way. The land was released to be sold to settlers for no more than $2.50 an acre. Heron, known originally as Heron Siding, was at the end of the Rocky Mountain Division of the Northern Pacific. In the mid 1880s a $30,000 waterworks had been built, a roundhouse with a dozen “stalls”, a good depot and freight house and other company improvements, a $10,000 hotel which housed a store and emigrant supply house and barber shop. Of course saloons prospered.