I’ve always said that you could live in Montana your entire life and never really ever see it all.
There’s history here in every mile you travel — some history may not be real obvious, but it’s there if you took the time to look.
Montana is chocked full of rich history and Nevada City is just one of the very obvious places where that history can be touched, experienced, and lived.
Nevada City, was settled around June 6, 1863 — Archaeological evidence found between the Music Hall and the Nevada City Hotel would indicate earlier than mining era habitation, possibly by white hunters or trappers. The earliest white hunters and trappers in the area had no conscious intention of establishing a city on the site, because the existence of a city would have presumably destroyed their economic base, which was based on the harvesting of beaver.
Nevada City was contemporary in settlement with Virginia City, as miners following the Fairweather party settled the length of Alder Gulch, and established homes, and businesses in convenient locations, the length of the gulch was known as 14 mile city. Nevada City was the first to become an incorporated city, on February 9, 1865.
Today, the town is managed by the Montana Heritage Commission, Department of Commerce, State of Montana. Businesses in the town are Alder Gulch Accommodations, Nevada City Hotel and Cabins, Just an Experience Bed and Breakfast, The Star Bakery, and the Nevada City Hotel Coffee Shop.
Some of the businesses are operational year round, others are operational during the summer season.
The town has been restored as an outdoor living history historical museum, linked by railroad to the Virginia City Historic District with numerous historic buildings, artifacts, and furnishings.
On December 19, 1863 a miners’ court trial took place. The trial was for the murder of Nicholas, a Dutchman. After a 3 day trial, George Ives was convicted and in less than an hour he was hanged in the middle of town while nearly 2,000 residents watched. Ive’s life ended 58 minutes after his conviction on December 21, 1863. This first trial, conviction, and execution would become the catalyst for forming the infamous Montana Vigilantes. Within the next month, some 24 men found guilty by the vigilantes would also be hanged in the area.
Initially, the entire mining district was part of the Idaho Territory. Until Virginia City became the Montana territorial capitol in 1865, there was no law except that of the miner’s court.
Many of Nevada City’s original buildings were destroyed when the Conrey Placer Mining Company began to dredge the entire length of Alder Gulch (1899 – 1923)
The few original buildings that remained were saved by the last residents in Nevada City – Cora and Alfred Finney. Later, in the 1950s, came a couple named Charles and Sue Bovey, who had been “collecting” old Montana buildings since the 1940s. Many of these buildings were first displayed at the Great Falls fairgrounds in an exhibit known as “Old Town.”
In 1959, Bovey was asked to remove the Old Town exhibit at the Great Falls fairgrounds. Soon, careful disassembly of the buildings began to take place, with their new home becoming that of Nevada City’s back streets. The town’s original layout was retained on sites where previous buildings once stood.
These days, as Montana has been being over run by out-of-state building interests, places like Nevada City still shine as a testament to how life in the Treasure State once was — A bit of Montana history preserved for future Montana generations.
If you ever get the chance, visit Nevada City if you can. I’m pretty sure that won’t be disappointed.