Lion City and Hecla, Montana
As the Trapper Mine declined in production around 1877-1878, attention shifted to the other mines located earlier on Lion Mountain. As a result, a community would build up closer to these mines, these new towns would be called Lion City and Hecla. The town of Lion City took its name from the mountain known then as "White Lion Mountain". The "Trapper" or "Bryant District" derived its name from the famous “Trapper Lode” and one of it’s original discoverers, "James A. Bryant",
There is much debate as to “who” and “how” Lion Mountain came to be known as "Lion Mountain", "White Lion Mountain", or "Lion Hill". The silver and lead outcrops on this bare, white rock upthrust were discovered shortly after the strikes at Trapper Ridge. Early newspaper accounts refer to this area as White Lion Hill, Lion Mountain, or simply “The Hecla Mines”. Early historians tell the same story over and over again with varying differences in names and circumstances leading up to the naming. The only thing certain in this story is the fact that a lion was involved, or was there?
One legend tells of a man by the name of “Joe McCreary” who was out walking in the vicinity of what is now Lion Mountain. Joe came upon what he thought was a mountain lion but in actually, was a white mule belonging to his friend, P. J. Grotevant. In a panic, he ran to camp for help. When the men, who returned to the site with him, discovered that the “Lion was actually a mule, the other miners made sure McCreary would never live it down and named the mountain where the mule was spotted as "Lion Mountain".
Another account told by an early historian, Marguerite LaMarche, recalls the story of a man by the name of “Dr. Glick” who would sometimes become visionary when in his cups, which was often enough, one day, dashed in on his friends saying that he had just seen a white lion, several of the fellows took their guns and followed Doc. But the white mountain lion turned out to be and old white horse grazing on the hillside.
The most likely culprit of this mountain naming legend was probably a “Dr. Day, as an early Glendale newspaper known as, “The Atlantis” commented, “that Doc Day’s white lion of White Lion Mountain was an ass”. There was indeed, a Dr. Day who spent time on the mountain, prospecting under the employ of Armstrong, Atkins & Co. This Dr. Day along with Harvey prospected for the firm. Why else would any other doctor be roaming along the mountain side if not to tend to mining or prospecting business? This newspaper dated to about 1879-1880 and the information it contained was common knowledge of that time, I am more likely to believe that it was a "Dr. Day" and not the former two names of McCreary and Glick. This mountain commonly known as Lion Mountain was being referred to "White Lion Mountain or White Lion Hill" in early newspapers dated 1874 through 1877. Eventually the “White” would be dropped and the hill would simply be known as “Lion Mountain”.