Petroleum County, Montana

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Petroleum County, Montana
Winnett MT Petroleum County Courthouse (2).jpg
Petroleum County Courthouse in Winnett
Map of Montana highlighting Petroleum County
Location within the U.S. state of Montana
Map of the United States highlighting Montana
Montana's location within the U.S.
FoundedFebruary 25, 1925
Named forPetroleum fields
SeatWinnett
Largest townWinnett
Area
 • Total1,674 sq mi (4,336 km2)
 • Land1,655 sq mi (4,286 km2)
 • Water19 sq mi (49 km2), 1.1%
Population (est.)
 • (2017)523
 • Density0.3/sq mi (0.1/km2)
Congressional districtAt-large
Time zoneMountain: UTC−7/−6
Websitepetroleumcountymt.org
Footnotes:  
  • Montana county number 55

Petroleum County is a county in the U.S. state of Montana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 494,[1] making it the least populous county in Montana and the seventh-least populous in the United States.[2] Its county seat is Winnett.[3] The county's area was partitioned from Fergus County to become the last of Montana's 56 counties to be organized.[4][5]

History[edit]

The area was home to Native American tribes of the Crow, Blackfoot, Nez Perce, and Sioux. In 1868 a trading post was established at the mouth of Musselshell River; it was named "Musselshell".[4] Walter John Winnett, a rancher who had been adopted into the Sioux tribe, started a ranch in Montana Territory in 1879.[6] His ranch house (built 1900) became a gathering place for the area. In 1910, he built a store and petitioned for a post office; thus Winnett became an official town.[7]

Fort Magginis[8] (built in western Fergus County in 1880) subdued Indian raids in the area, allowing cattle raising to prosper. Gold was also discovered in the Fergus County mountains; from 1911 to 1915, stakes in the county were claimed by prospectors. Area claims were limited to 320 acres (130 ha); in 1930 many of these lands reverted to the federal government as settlers deserted the town.[9]

In February 1920, oil was discovered in the SE part of the county. This area developed into the Cat Creek Field, producing high-grade crude. By 1922 ift was producing 2.2 million barrels annually. The state legislature split the eastern area of Fergus County into a separate entity, named Petroleum County to denote its status as the first place in Montana where petroleum was discovered, in 1925, and designated Winnett as its seat.[9][4]

The county was always one of the most sparsely populated areas of the US, and the population has continued to decline. The 1930 census listed 2,045 residents.[10] The county was brought under administrative format of the "county manager" in 1944. By the time of the 1980 census, the population was reduced to 685.[11]

Geography[edit]

Winnett Rims from the Highway

The county’s eastern boundary is formed by the Musselshell River. According to the US Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,674 square miles (4,340 km2), 1,655 square miles (4,290 km2) land and 19 square miles (49 km2) (1.1%) water.[12] Its average elevation is 2,250–4,000 feet (690–1,220 m). The land lies in the Missouri Plateau section of the Great Plains. The uplands are generally of fairly level land and valleys while the general topography is of rolling hills and valleys except for sharp gullies on the side slopes of Missouri and Musselshell Rivers in certain stretches. The southern part of the county consists of moderate hill slopes and gentle valleys, interspersed with steep cliffs.[9]

Highways[edit]

Rivers[edit]

Lakes[edit]

  • Wild Horse Lake
  • Little Bear Lake
  • War Horse Lake
  • Petrolia Lake
  • Yellow Water Reservoir
  • Headman-Field Reservoir.[13]

The northern part of the county has abundant surface water resources, with little agricultural land to use it. In other parts of the county, agriculture is reliant on underground water resources.[9]

Adjacent counties[edit]

Climate[edit]

The mean annual precipitation is 13 inches (330 mm). The mean annual temperature is in the range of 42–47 °F (6–8 °C). Frost is recorded during the season for 105–135 days.[9] Rainfall is 13 inches (330 mm) in Flatwillow, it is 16 inches (410 mm) at Grass Range, and 13 inches (330 mm) at Mosby; at these locations, the mean winter temperatures are 24 °F (−4 °C), 25 °F (−4 °C) and 23 °F (−5 °C) respectively. The lowest temperature recorded at Mosby was on January 24, 1969, of −43 °F (−42 °C). The maximum temperature recorded was 108 °F (42 °C) on July 19, 1960, at Flatwillow. Nearly 70% of rainfall occurs from April to September, also the growing season for many crops in the county. The average seasonal snowfall is 40 in (100 cm) at Flatwillow, 63 in (160 cm) at Grass Range and 36 in (91 cm) at Mosby. Average wind speed is about 17 miles per hour (7.6 m/s) and is higher in winter months than summer months.[14]

Protected areas[edit]

Dung beetles on the War Horse NWR

Geology[edit]

A ~11.5 cm diameter fossil ammonite Metengonoceras teigenense from the Cretaceous Mowry Shale, Petroleum County

A sandstone ridge with steep dips runs along the northern end of the county. This anticline is petroleum-bearing, and divides the county into two areas: to the north, geological formations of Bearpaw Shale or the Hill Creek Formation; to the south, formations containing older Cretaceous rocks. Marine shales of Cretaceous Age are found as outcrops throughout the county. Sandstones are noted in alternate sequences and are identified at deeper depths in Cat Creek.[15]

A Tyrannosauridae fossil skeleton was discovered in the Judith River Formation,[16] while Alamosaurus was discovered in the Hell Creek Formation.[17]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Rangeland contains wheatgrass, forbs, shrubs, green needlegrass, blue grama, big sagebrush, plains pricklypear, wooly indianwheat, weedlike forbs, broom snakeweed, Nuttal saltbush, prairie sandreed, horizontal juniper, plains reedgrass, golden pea, and prairie rose. Forest land covers 64,296 acres of which 6,500 acres are characterized as commercial forest land; Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and Plains cottonwood are noted. The forest understory features obtuse sedge, creeping juniper, Rocky Mountain juniper, bluebunch wheatgrass, Little lbuestern, and hawksbeard.[18] The county has elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer and pronghorn antelope.[9] There are pheasant, eagles[19] and Gray, or Hungarian, partridge.

Economy[edit]

As of March 2012, the cost of living index in the county was 82.2 below the national average of 100.[13] Petroleum and cattle raising are the principal economic activities; livestock farming accounts for 89% of the farm income. Crude oil from the Cat Creek and Rattlesnake Butte fields is piped to refineries in Billings.[9] Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting are attributed to 66% of the population. Mining accounts for 58.2% of people in the county while in educational, health and social services 15.5% of people are engaged.[13] Some of the notable ranches in the county are: McArthur Ranch, Maxwell Ranch, Crooked Creek Campground, Fail Ranch, and Novak Homestead.[13] As of 2012, the average size of farms was 6,045 acres and the area under all harvested wheat grain was 14,720 acres (5,960 ha).[13] The major crops grown in the county are wheat (both winter wheat and spring wheat) and barley. Alfalfa and grass hay are grown as cattle feed[20] under irrigated conditions along the main river course and also on the banks of creeks such as Flat Willow, Box Elder, and Macdonald.

Demographics[edit]

Age pyramid for Petroleum County, Montana based on census 2000 data
Historical population
Census Pop.
19302,045
19401,083−47.0%
19501,026−5.3%
1960894−12.9%
1970675−24.5%
1980655−3.0%
1990519−20.8%
2000493−5.0%
20104940.2%
Est. 2017523[21]5.9%
US Decennial Census[22]
1790-1960[23] 1900-1990[24]
1990-2000[25] 2010-2017[1]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 494 people, 225 households, and 143 families residing in the county.[26] The population density was 0.3 inhabitants per square mile (0.12/km2). There were 324 housing units at an average density of 0.2 per square mile (0.077/km2).[27] The racial makeup of the county was 98.8% white, 0.0% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.0% of the population.[26] In terms of ancestry, 35.1% were German, 15.9% were Norwegian, 15.7% were English, 13.2% were Irish, and 3.5% were American.[28]

Of the 225 households, 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.1% were married couples living together, 4.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 36.4% were non-families, and 35.1% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.83. The median age was 47.3 years.[26]

The median income for a household in the county was $36,875 and the median income for a family was $39,107. Males had a median income of $25,991 versus $21,705 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,008. About 18.1% of families and 16.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.3% of those under age 18 and 12.7% of those age 65 or over.[29]

Politics[edit]

Voters in Petroleum County generally vote Republican in national elections. Since 1928 they selected the Republican candidate in 78% of the elections.

Presidential elections results
Presidential elections results[30]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2016 86.3% 278 9.3% 30 4.4% 14
2012 80.5% 240 16.4% 49 3.0% 9
2008 75.7% 227 22.7% 68 1.7% 5
2004 78.1% 228 18.8% 55 3.1% 9
2000 83.0% 254 11.8% 36 5.2% 16
1996 64.1% 186 21.4% 62 14.5% 42
1992 45.6% 135 20.6% 61 33.8% 100
1988 67.6% 204 30.1% 91 2.3% 7
1984 74.4% 258 24.8% 86 0.9% 3
1980 66.0% 225 26.4% 90 7.6% 26
1976 63.8% 211 33.2% 110 3.0% 10
1972 71.4% 232 26.8% 87 1.9% 6
1968 63.0% 211 29.3% 98 7.8% 26
1964 47.4% 190 52.4% 210 0.3% 1
1960 53.6% 255 46.4% 221 0.0% 0
1956 55.7% 258 44.3% 205 0.0% 0
1952 67.3% 319 32.7% 155 0.0% 0
1948 46.4% 214 51.0% 235 2.6% 12
1944 52.6% 253 46.8% 225 0.6% 3
1940 49.6% 313 50.1% 316 0.3% 2
1936 32.0% 258 64.9% 523 3.1% 25
1932 38.0% 351 58.9% 544 3.1% 29
1928 60.9% 586 38.6% 372 0.5% 5

Town[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". US Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  2. ^ "Top 10: Least Populous Counties, During the Period of 2005-2009". PolicyMap. February 28, 2011. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Ellie Arguimbau; Ellen Baumler; Charlene L. Porsild; Brian Shovers (2009). Montana Place Names: From Alzada to Zortman. Montana Historical Society. p. 204. ISBN 978-0-9759196-1-3.
  5. ^ Soils Industry, pp. 1-2
  6. ^ The Montana Almanac. Montana State University. 1958. p. 404. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  7. ^ "Winnett". Montana Community Information. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  8. ^ Fort Maginnis Historical Marker Google Maps (accessed 4 January 2019)
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i SoilsIndustry pp. 1-3
  10. ^ Montana. Dept. of Agriculture and Publicity (1933). Resources and Opportunities of Montana. Independent Publishing Company, State Printers. pp. 117–8. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  11. ^ Diggs, David M.; Sweeney, Patrick (1985). Who owns the West: sixteen case studies on natural resource ownership. Western Organization of Resource Councils. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  12. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". US Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on December 5, 2014. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
  13. ^ a b c d e "Petroleum County, Montana (MT)". City data.com. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  14. ^ SoilsIndustry pp. 7-8
  15. ^ SoilsIndustry pp. 3-4
  16. ^ Parrish, J. Michael; Molnar, Ralph E.; Currie, Philip J.; Koppelhus, Eva B. (June 26, 2013). Tyrannosaurid Paleobiology. Indiana University Press. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-253-00947-0.
  17. ^ Geology of the Big Bend area, Texas: field trip guidebook with road log and papers on natural history of the area. West Texas Geological Society. 1972. p. 21.
  18. ^ SoilsIndustry pp. 98-103
  19. ^ US Bureau of Land Management (1979). Draft environmental statement on grazing management in the Missouri Brakes of Montana. Montana State Office. pp. 2–36.
  20. ^ SoilsIndustry 1993, pp. 1-3.
  21. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  22. ^ "US Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
  23. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
  24. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". US Census Bureau. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
  25. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). US Census Bureau. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
  26. ^ a b c "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". US Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  27. ^ "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". US Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  28. ^ "Selected Social Characteristics in the US – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". US Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  29. ^ "Selected Economic Characteistics – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". US Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  30. ^ Leip, David. "Atlas of US Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  31. ^ Mosby MT Google Maps (accessed 4 January 2019)
  32. ^ Valentine MT Google Maps (accessed 4 January 2019)

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°07′N 108°16′W / 47.11°N 108.26°W / 47.11; -108.26