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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Great Falls

GREAT FALLS, a city and the county-seat of Cascade county, Montana, U.S.A., 99 m. (by rail) N.E. of Helena, on the S. bank of the Missouri river, opposite the mouth of the Sun river, at an altitude of about 3300 ft. It is 10 m. above the Great Falls of the Missouri, from which it derives its name. Pop. (1890) 3979; (1900) 14,930, of whom 4692 were foreign-born; (1910 census) 13,948. It has an area of about 8 sq. m. It is served by the Great Northern and the Billings & Northern (Chicago, Burlington & Quincy system) railways. The city has a splendid park system of seven parks (about 530 acres) with 15 m. of boulevards.[1] Among the principal buildings are a city hall, court house, high school, commercial college, Carnegie library, the Columbus Hospital and Training School for Nurses (under the supervision of the Sisters of Charity), and the Montana Deaconess hospital. There is a Federal land office in the city. Great Falls lies in the midst of a region exceptionally rich in minerals—copper, gold, silver, lead, iron, gypsum, limestone, sapphires and bituminous coal being mined in the neighbourhood. Much grain is grown in the vicinity, and the city is an important shipping point for wool, live-stock and cereals. Near Great Falls the Missouri river, within 7½ m., contracts from a width of about 900 to 300 yds. and falls more than 500 ft., the principal falls being the Black Eagle Falls (50 ft.), from which power is derived for the city's street railway and lighting plant, the beautiful Rainbow Falls (48 ft.) and Great Falls (92 ft.). Giant Spring Fall, about 20 ft. high, is a cascade formed by a spring on the bank of the river near Rainbow Falls. The river furnishes very valuable water-power, partly utilized by large manufacturing establishments, including flour mills, plaster mills, breweries, iron works, mining machinery shops, and smelting and reduction works. The Boston & Montana copper smelter is one of the largest in the world; it has a chimney stack 506 ft. high, and in 1908 employed 1200 men in the smelter and 2500 in its mining department. Great Falls ranked second (to Anaconda) among the cities of the state in the value of the factory product of 1905, which was $13,291,979, showing an increase of 42.4% since 1900. The city owns and operates its water-supply system. Great Falls was settled in 1884, and was chartered as a city in 1888.

  1. Great Falls was a pioneer among the cities of the state in the development of a park system. When the city was first settled its site was a "barren tract of sand, thinly covered with buffalo-grass and patches of sage brush." The first settler, Paris Gibson, of Minneapolis, began the planting of trees, which, though not indigenous, grew well. The city's sidewalks are bordered by strips of lawn, in which there is a row of trees, and the city maintains a large nursery where trees are grown for this purpose. A general state law (1901) placing the parking of cities on a sound financial basis is due very largely to the impulse furnished by Great Falls. See an article, "Great Falls, the Pioneer Park City of Montana," by C. H. Forbes-Lindsay, in the Craftsman for November 1908.