Dillon, Montana is a town with a rich history. From its beginnings as a mining town to its current status as the county seat of Beaverhead County, Dillon has seen its fair share of important events over the years. Here are seven of the most notable historical events that have taken place near Dillon:
1. Beaverhead Expedition - In 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition made the first recorded contact with the Shoshone people in the Beaverhead Valley, which is just south of Dillon. This encounter proved to be crucial for the success of the expedition, as the Shoshone provided the explorers with much-needed horses to continue their journey.
2. Gold Rush - In the 1860s, gold was discovered in the area surrounding Dillon, and the resulting Gold Rush brought thousands of miners to the region. The town of Bannack, just 26 miles from Dillon, became the first territorial capital of Montana due to its proximity to the gold mines.
3. The Vigilantes - During the Gold Rush, a group of vigilantes formed in Bannack to deal with crime and lawlessness in the area. The group, known as the Montana Vigilantes, gained a reputation for hanging suspected criminals without a trial, and their actions helped bring some semblance of order to the chaotic and violent mining camps.
4. Butte Labor Riots - In 1914, a series of labor riots broke out in nearby Butte, Montana, as mine workers went on strike to demand better pay and working conditions. The riots resulted in the deaths of several people and marked a turning point in the labor movement in Montana.
5. Japanese Internment Camp - During World War II, the U.S. government established an internment camp for Japanese-Americans just outside of Dillon. The camp housed over 1,000 people, many of whom had been forcibly removed from their homes on the West Coast.
6. Apollo 16 Training - In 1972, NASA chose the Dillon area as a training ground for the Apollo 16 mission. Astronauts practiced driving the Lunar Roving Vehicle on the rough terrain around Dillon, which was chosen for its similarity to the surface of the moon.
7. University of Montana Western - In 1893, the Montana State Normal School was established in Dillon, which later became known as the Western Montana College of Education. Today, it is known as the University of Montana Western, and is one of the smallest public universities in the United States.
These seven historical events are just a small sampling of the rich history of the Dillon area. From Lewis and Clark to the labor movement, Dillon has played a significant role in shaping the history of Montana and the United States. Visitors to the area can explore these and other historical sites to gain a deeper appreciation for the region's fascinating past.
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