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Montana History
The History of Wise River
Area History: For centuries the Wise River Valley was home to many Shoshoni Indians and provided them food and lodging. This would all end in the latter part of the 1800's.

On October 24, 1873, silver was discovered near Coolidge by prospectors in the Pioneer Mountains. Elk Horn Mine at the south end of the Wise River valley was opened, but work was intermittent until 1903 when silver prices rose enough to make working the mine profitable. William Allen began buying claims in the area in 1911 and formed the Boston Mining Company in 1913. By 1914 a road was constructed to the site of the Elkhorn Mine. Coolidge was becoming well established by 1914 as the result of increasing silver prices and the renewed interest in the Elkhorn Mine. In order to help develop the mine and mill, a narrow gauge railroad was constructed from Divide, Montana up the Big Hole River to Wise River then up the Wise River Valley to Coolidge. The mine was further developed and a mill constructed to process the ore in the early 1920s. The mine and town survived for only a short time before closing down in the 1930s due a drop in silver prices. Very little work has been done to the mine since then and Coolidge is now a ghost town.

Wild Man of Wise River: The valley was home to a few notable characters whom homesteaded the valley, but one man stands out more the most.  The infamous  "Wild Man of Wise River." George Pattengill.  Described as a tall, slender framed, piercing dark eyes, rugged, weather-beaten face framed by long reddish hair and beard. Pattengill was reportedly a fugitive from a love gone sour. He came to the Pioneers be alone, asked little of others and lived off the land. Pattengill often wonder the woods and a creek that bear his name.  At times dugouts and caves were his home. Despite his gentle voice and eloquent speech, people were frightened of this mysterious man--whom  they called "Wild Man" of Wise River.

Wise River Montana Weather

Area Attractions

Big Hole National Battlefield

Bannock State Park

Area Map


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