Copyright 2011 • All Rights Reserved • Big Sandy Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture • PO Box 411 • Big Sandy, MT 59520 • 406.378.2418
HOW IT ALL BEGAN .....
A BRIEF HISTORY OF BIG SANDY'S BIRTH
Big Sandy was named for a creek near the town the Indians called 'Un-es-putcha-eka", which translates from Blackfeet language as "Big Sandy". Since the early 1800's, folks have had an attraction to the Big Sandy area. The vast plains and spreading valleys promised hay and water for livestock and later, abundant cropland for the homesteaders. Much of what Lewis and Clark saw here in 1805 remains unchanged.
In the mid 1800's, oxen freighters moved thousands of loads of supplies across the Cow Island Trail. Goods were unloaded at Coal Banks Landing south of town on the Missouri River and freighted overland to Fort Assiniboine. This picturesque route still runs along the southern edge of the beautiful Bear Paw Mountians.
Later, the stagecoach and railroad came through, and Big Sandy grew as the needs of a burgeoning territory increased. A saloon was opened in a tent near the Marlowe and McNamera freight depot in 1886 and by 1887, the town consisted of two depots, a warehouse, and nine saloons. In 1889, the Spokane Hotel was built to accomodate increased business - consisting of cowboys, settlers and railroad men.
By the early 1900's, Big Sandy had become a homesteader's boom town. The first bank opened in 1910, a doctor set up shop and merchants began to deal in lumber, machinery, gasoline, and more. At one time, five grain elevators stood near the railroad. Throughout the years, Big Sandy has supported businesses such as a newspaper, an opera house, a barber shop, a shoe repair store, a picture-show theatre, a photography studio, bakery, restaurants, grocery stores, pool halls, and bowling alleys.
Today, Big Sandy is home to about 750 people and is still very much an agriculture-based community. It is home to over 50 businesses including town and the surrounding area.