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Jefferson County, Montana, is a place with a rich history. It is known for its beautiful landscapes, mining heritage, and the historic city of Helena. Here are seven interesting facts about Jefferson County in Montana history that you might not have known.

1. Helena was once a gold rush town.

Helena, the county seat of Jefferson County, was once a booming gold rush town. In 1864, gold was discovered in the Last Chance Gulch, and thousands of people flocked to the area to try their luck. The town grew rapidly and became a major commercial center. Some of the buildings from that era are still standing today, and tours of the historic district are popular with tourists.

2. Jefferson County was named after Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson County was named in honor of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States. The county was established in 1865, just a few years after his death. It was one of several counties named for famous Americans in Montana.

3. Jefferson County was once a major mining center.

Mining has long been an important industry in Jefferson County. In the late 1800s, the area was one of the largest silver producers in the world. The Anaconda Company, which had mining operations in the area, became one of the most powerful companies in the United States. Today, mining is still an important industry in the area.

4. Jefferson County was home to one of the largest smelters in the world.

The towns of Anaconda and Butte were home to some of the largest and most sophisticated smelters in the world. These facilities processed the copper and other metals that were extracted from the mines. The Anaconda smelter, which was built in the late 1800s, was one of the biggest. The smokestack from the smelter is still visible from many parts of the county.

5. Lewis and Clark passed through Jefferson County.

The Lewis and Clark expedition passed through what is now Jefferson County in 1805. They traveled up the Missouri River and then crossed the Continental Divide near present-day Butte. They continued down the Jefferson River, which was named in honor of Thomas Jefferson. Today, you can explore the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, which is located in the county.

6. Jefferson County has been hit by some major disasters.

Jefferson County has experienced some major disasters in its history. In 1895, a fire broke out in the town of Butte and destroyed most of the commercial district. In 1903, the town of Hecla was destroyed by a massive flood. And in 1917, the town of Granite was nearly wiped out by a forest fire. The county has also experienced several major earthquakes.

7. Montana’s first territorial capital was in Jefferson County.

Montana’s first territorial capital was located in the town of Bannack, which is now part of Jefferson County. The town was established in 1862, and it served as the capital until 1865, when the capital was moved to Virginia City. Today, Bannack is a ghost town and a popular tourist attraction.

In conclusion, Jefferson County has a rich and fascinating history. From the gold rush to the mining boom, from Lewis and Clark to the state’s first territorial capital, the county has been at the center of many important events. Whether you are a history buff or just curious about the past, Jefferson County is well worth exploring.

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