Melrose, Montana . . .
Once known as "Camp Creek", had it's early beginnings as a tiny stage stop along the Big Hole River that would eventually become a terminus for the railroad, a shipping and receiving point for the Hecla Consolidated Mining Company and Bryant Mining District, consisting of Hecla, Lion City, Greenwood, Norwood, and Glendale. The area along the Big Hole River was settled as early as 1870, three families shared the valley, Jefferson McCauley, John Stone and William Bowe. In 1875, William Bowe bought out two squatters giving them a combined total of $250.00. William Bowe pre-empted 160 acres of land and subsequently added 80 acres of Desert land.

William built himself a modest home in 1875 and later purchased a structure in Rocker which he moved to Camp Creek (later Melrose), establishing himself as a Stage Stop and Hotel Entrepreneur. On December 25, 1876, William was married to Lucina Phillips who had recently divorced Adam Fleser of whom "Fleser Mountain" was named. She brought four children from this marriage and settled with William Bowe in their Hotel/Stage Stop. Lucina was no stranger to greeting and caring for travelers as her ex-husband Adam also operated a tiny stage stop along the base of Mount Fleser. It is likely that the married couple mutually agreed to operate the stage stop together as Lucina could tend to the meals and needs of the traveler while Billy could provide stable and other services.



The arrival of the Utah Northern's narrow guage in the spring of 1881 made it possible and profitable for the Hecla Consolidated Mining Company to ship silver and lead bullion (once hauled out by wagon road) to the refineries for further smelting. Hauling ore by wagon was not only costly but time consuming. The arrival of the railroad greatly reduced the costs and overhead of the company and improved profits, helping bring in the necessary supplies, machinery, and charcoal needed to supply the furnaces at Glendale. The railroad arrived at Melrose in the Spring of 1881, marking an end to an era of freighting for Melrose and the communities within the Bryant Mining District.

With the railroad nearing, William Bowe platted the Town site of Camp Creek and named it “Melrose”. William Bowe began selling off lots of this newly platted town around 1880. Business houses and homes quickly sprang up as the railroad inched closer. Miners and their families arrived and went to work the mines of the Hecla Company, miles west of Melrose. Melrose Is situated on the Big Hole River and sits within Silverbow County, Montana. The only thing separating the two counties of Silverbow and Beaverhead is the Big Hole River which runs directly through town.


There have been many theories on how Camp Creek came to be known as "Melrose". One such theory involved Henry Knippenberg, whom arrived in April of 1881 to act as General Manager of the Hecla Consolidated Mining Company. Legend states that because of Knippenberg’s influence and position with the Company, he named the town. This is not likely or probable as Henry Knippenberg arrived on the scene long after Melrose had been established. Obviously, the privilege of naming the new town belonged to the man who owned the land, his name was William Bowe. It isn't reasonable to assume that Knippenberg, being an outsider, would deserve the privilege of naming a community that was well established prior to his arrival, nor had he, any personal connection. I believe this theory came to life as a result of Henry Knippenberg leaving Montana many years later and upon returning to Indianapolis, naming his beautiful mansion, "Melrose Cottage" which was inscribed on one photograph.

Upon naming this newly platted community, William Bowe chose the name of his much loved, Step-daughter Melrose Fleser. Melrose went by "Rose" and to close family members, she was "Melrose". This is the name recorded in the Fleser family bible in Jacoby Lowney's private collection. Melrose would later marry Sherman Vance and they would have children. Melrose passed away in 1897 and was laid to rest on the hilltop overlooking the town that bears her name. Her grave records the name, “Rose” however her name was “Melrose'.

Dillon Tribune:
(1881 JUN 25)
Mr. Geo. Peck came up from Melrose Tuesday and reports that town rapidly building up, and that the present prospects of a live mining camp there as well as a railroad town -is quite favorable. The question of erecting extensive smelters is being agitated, for the purpose of working McCarty Mountain ores. We would ask those of our subscribers who are going to Melrose from this place to inform us of the fact and we will change the address at once.  It will be of great convenience to our carrier boy to know who has changed their place of residence.  We hope our subscribers will give prompt attention to this matter and thus save us time and trouble.

Dillon Tribune:
July 2, 1881,
Leaving Dillon on the 24th ult., at 8 o’clock p.m., on the construction train, we soon realized the fact that we were spinning down the Beaver Head Valley at a rapid gait toward the new terminus town of Melrose. On traveling a few miles, we struck the grade going up to Birch Creek, and having an unusual big load of ties, freight, and passengers, it was very difficult for our engine to make the top of the grade, then we began going down grade all the way into Melrose. Coming to the Big Hole bridge, which is one of the largest bridges on the road, and spanning the great Big Hole river, we began curving around the mountains until leaving Joe Brown’s and there we take almost a straight bee line for Melrose. Arriving here at 10 o’clock p.m., all was hustle and bustle, some looking for trunks, some looking for - well, they did not know themselves they were so excited, while your correspondent was looking out for himself, waiting for a chance to steal a ride on the coach, but upon inquiry, I found both stages filled to their utmost capacity, with seven trunks and a pair of shafts to decorate the top deck, so I concluded it wouldn’t do to steal a ride as it was a little higher than I wished to ride, so I concluded to postpone my stage ride until I could find a small load going out, but I am no better off, nor any further than I was the first night. Melrose is situated in a very pleasant valley, and within a stone throw of the magnificent banks of the great Big Hole river, and surrounded by mountains, and within ten minutes walk to Beaver Head and Madison counties.

Melrose is five miles from Glendale and has a good wagon road leading to that city. Five miles from Melrose is the Soapstone gulch where the Hecla Co. haul their ore from through Melrose to Glendale. Several very nice buildings are going up every day. Among our business men are Joe Keppler, Pond & Urlin, Gilg & Hoppe, B.M. DuRell & Co., of Glendale. E.M. Ratcliff, C.L. Thomsen, L. Eliel, Chas. Schlesinger, Blanchett & Howell, and Baldwin & Sweet of Dillon. There are a score of other building store rooms and will be ready for business in three or four days then Melrose will have the appearance of a flourishing little city. Saturday night being the first night for passenger trains, we were treated with some choice selections of music by the Glendale Silver Coronet Band, which was a credit both to Glendale and to the young men that composed the band. About 100 of the Glendale citizens greeted the train with shouts of welcome as it came thundering into our city. More anon.

Anaconda Review:
(1887 JUN 24)
The Utah and Northern,
Superintendant Blickensderfer, of the Union Pacific, has announced that on July 15th the Utah and Northern will be converted into a standard gauge road.  The narrow gauge, which is the first we had in Montana will, therefore, be withdrawn, and we will see our little narrow friends no more.  The writer came to Montana with the Utah and Northern when its first stopping point was at Old Red Rock, thence to Dillon, Melrose, Silver Bow, thence Butte and Deer Lodge, and finally Garrison was reached before the Northern Pacific had gotten that far.  At the time the terminus of the Utah & Northern was at Red Rock, 1879, almost the entire amount of freight and merchandise of Montana was coming that way, and it did not exceed six cars of merchandise in 24 hours, and the ore shipments were nothing.  The business of the territory on the advent of this little narrow gauge began to increase immediately and has increased steadily to its present gigantic proportions.  The little narrow gauge is unable to do its share and has to give way to the inevitable – the standard gauge.  We part from our little friend with regret, for it will not seem so great an improvement in going from a narrow gauge to a standard as it was from a stage coach to the narrow gauge.

(1887 JUL 29)
A GREAT WORK FINISHED
The Utah & Northern Gauge Changed in Quick Time.... –

The First Trip Over The New Road.
Monday was a great day in the history of the Utah & Northern Railroad.  On that day 246 miles of track was changed from a three-foot gauge to four feet, eight and one-half inches, in the remarkably short time of five hours that is, each section of six miles was widened within five hours from a given time. The last narrow gauge train over the road was a passenger train, drawn by engine 93, which left Butte at 3 o’clock Sunday afternoon. As soon as the train got well under way the work of widening began.  Each section of six miles was provided with 20 men and a foreman, who stood impatiently waiting for the train to pass that they might get to work. The train left this station at 6:45, and Foreman Henry and his men set to work with a will.  In fifteen minutes they were almost out of sight. They worked until dark and finished their section soon after daylight Monday morning. At dark Sunday night there were fifty miles of track below Butte, finished.

(1889 FEB 22)
The bridge over the slough at Melrose has been completed. The contractors, Estes & Swalstrom, have done a good job. The bridge is a needed public improvement in that section of the county. It is one hundred and sixty feet in length and it is constructed to stay.  The bridge cost the county $1,400, and the money was well spent.

(Glendale Home)