I just finished the "Yellowstone" spin-off "1883." For those not familiar, the series followed the Dutton family and their journey on the Oregon Trail in 1883. Even though it was the Dutton family's goal to make it to Oregon, they ended up taking a detour to Montana instead. During the finale, James Dutton (Tim McGraw) discusses with a Native American chief about possible places to create a Dutton settlement. They talk about a valley in Montana that "is another word for heaven."  Therefore the soon-to-be "Yellowstone ranch" was built in what we call "Paradise Valley."

We all know that the REAL location of the "Yellowstone ranch" is in the Bitterroot valley, as the filming of the show takes place at the Chief Joseph Ranch near Darby.

It does make you wonder how different Montana was back when settlers first started arriving. It was an untamed chunk of wilderness that soon filled with people looking to either strike it rich or plant their roots. Communities sprouted all over the Five Valleys of western Montana. But, not all stood the test of time.

Map shows western Montana in 1882.

I recently stumbled across a photo of a 140-year-old map. A map that shows familiar places, but with different names. For example:

1) Lolo creek used to be called "Lou-Lou fork."

2) What would one day be called Hamilton, was simply known as Skalkaho.

3) The Bitterroot river was known as the St. Mary river.

4) The Hellgate river and the town of Hellgate.

Just one look at the map will transport you to the beginnings of western Montana as we know it today.

Steve Bixby via Facebook
Steve Bixby via Facebook

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