Mineral County Background
Mineral County was carved out of Missoula County in 1914, with Superior as the County Seat. It was named for the mining activities in the area. Mineral County boasts a lively history. It began as the westerly part of Missoula County. In 1859 Captain John Mullan and his men located a trail along the Clark Fork (Missoula) River westward. This historic trail was later improved and named the Mullan Road. In 1869 L.A. Barrett discovered gold on Cedar Creek. Shortly thereafter the town of Superior was established at the mouth of Cedar Creek. In 1890 the Northern Pacific Railroad was built through the area and in 1897 the first large lumber mill was built at St. Regis. The Milwaukee Railroad was built through the valley in 1907. The following year a devastating flood of the Clark Fork River occurred.
Shortly thereafter, Mineral County experienced the trauma of the 1910 fire which destroyed many areas of Mineral County. In 1914, citizens of the area became disenchanted with the services they were receiving from Missoula County and voted to break away and create their own County. After some lively competition, Superior was chosen as the county seat. In 1933 disaster again struck the area, with a fire at St. Regis on July 11 and a flood in December. In 1946 the Missoula River underwent a name change to the Clark Fork River. It flooded the town of Superior 2 years later in 1948. The county was home to many Civilian Conservation Corps workers during the Great Depression. The Historical Registry lists three county buildings, Savenac Nursery Compound (1907), the DeBorgia School House (1908), and the Superior School House.
The County is 1,223 sq. miles; its land is 82% federal-owned, 3% state-owned and 15% privately-owned; the early mining activity resulted in its name. In recent years the economy has been largely timber-based. Many lumber mills have shared its history. There are 87 miles of river, 650 miles of streams, and over 50 high mountain lakes.