Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce

Cømmunity Guide 2021 Flip Book File

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Our History reat Falls was founded in 1883 after Paris Gibson traveled to the region several years earlier to see the falls of the Missouri River, made famous by the Lewis and Clark Expedition nearly eight decades before. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the 1805 expedition to the West with more than 30 others. When they reached what is now known as Montana, they encountered the great falls. Lewis wrote of his discovery that it was "a sublimely grand specticle [sic]… the grandest sight I had ever held." Their portage upriver took a month, making it the longest stop for the Corps of Discovery. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center near the falls now houses artifacts from the expedition. When Gibson, a former legislator and entrepreneur, arrived in 1880, he realized the potential for harnessing the falls for hydroelectric power. He used his high-level persuasion to bring the Great Northern Railway through Great Falls, establishing trade and transport by transcontinental rail. Gibson designed the city in a grid pattern, making it invaluably easy to navigate to this day. He also was committed to establishing a flourishing and attractive park system, saying, "When the City of Great Falls was founded and its plat was recorded in 1883, it was decided at once to set aside for park purposes, certain well-located tracts of land within the city limits and to commence the planting of American elms and other desirable trees …" Because of Gibson's commitment, Great Falls is now home to 57 city parks enjoyed by our residents and visitors. In 1982, Great Falls became the first city in Montana to receive the Arbor Day Foundation's Tree City USA designation. Gibson went on to became Great Falls' postmaster in 1887, and then mayor in 1888. The city of Great Falls was officially incorporated on November 28, 1888. In 1892, Charles Marion "Charlie" Russell, the world- renowned cowboy artist, moved to the Great Falls area. He spent much of his life capturing the culture of the Native American tribes from Judith Basin up into Canada. He was a voice of advocacy for the Chippewa Cree and helped them secure the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation. 18 Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce History, Art, and Adventure Collide in Great Falls, Montana. Paris Gibson posed in a four generation family portrait with his son Phillip, granddaughter Louise Gibson Leland, and great grandson Douglas Gibson Leland, 1909. Image courtesy of The History Museum/Cascade County Historical Society [1989.137.0171] Image available via Russell was a prolific artist, and his more than 4,000 pieces have helped spread the mystique of the West. Movies have even been modeled after Russell's work. Every spring, Great Falls turns into the epicenter of Western culture during Western Art Week. Demonstrations, exhibits, and sales are held throughout the community, culminating in the multimillion- dollar event The Russell: An Exhibition and Sale to Benefit the C.M. Russell Museum. The museum features much of Russell's collection, his Great Falls homestead and artist studio, and even the carriage in which he was carried during his 1926 funeral procession. G

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