Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of History


Canyon Ferry Region (Montana), Canyon Ferry Dam (Montana)


University of Montana


Canyon Ferry is the name of a region along the upper Missouri River. The area first rose to fame because of its abundant quantities of placer gold which made it one of the three most famous gold strikes in Montana. After the gold rush days, the region lost its position of prominence and was not heard of for nearly seventy years. In the late 1940's, the name, Canyon Ferry, was again in the public eye, only this time as the center of a bitter controversy, concerning the building of a large new dam for power development. The dam is now built, a good portion of the rich valley flooded out, and, as a result, a portion of an area with a rich history has disappeared.

I first became interested in the topic when my advisor, Dr. Paul C. Phillips, told me about the region. The subject became even more interesting when I found that virtually nothing had been written about the Canyon Ferry region, and that most of the material would have to come from old newspapers, and other source materials. The search for materials took me through the Canyon Ferry area, to the State Historical Library in Helena, and of course, to Montana State University. The bulk of the material used has come from the State Historical Library, in the form of newspapers, government documents, personal papers, photographs, etc. During the time I was at the Historical Library, the help and assistance given me by the librarian, Rita McDonald, was invaluable. Most of the other research material used was given to me by Dr. Phillips, as well as a lot of time, patience, and advice.



© Copyright 1954 Carl M. Westby Jr.