McCarthyville, 1890-1892

Although short-lived, as an incorporated town, McCarthyville was a rousing community in the tradition of the early West. This community grew up, lived, and died in a period of only 3 years.

McCarthyville was founded in 1890 by Eugene McCarthy, a young man of only 20 years. While in the area locating railroad tie timber, he found a level area five miles west of Marias Pass. The railroad ties were for use in building the Great Northern Railroad tracks through this area of the Rocky Mountains. McCarthy wanted to file on railroad land, but there were two things that created a problem: (1) the land was unsurveyed, and (2) McCarthy was not of age. He got around both obstacles by filing a "Declaration of Occupancy." It was the only land west of the divide for many miles that was suitable in size or topography for a railroad construction camp site. McCarthy knew this.

The railroad construction contractors, Shepard and Seims, wanted this site for a work camp. They disputed McCarthy's rights to the land and threatened to take it to court, but a compromise was achieved by dividing the area; McCarthy was to build the town on one side of the creek and the contractor on the other side.

The townsite was plotted and sales made; soon a town of 1,000 residents sprang up. The town was incorporated because the State law prohibited the sale of liquor within 2 miles of a construction camp except within the city limits of an incorporated city. McCarthy was elected mayor; and for 18 months, the town flourished.

It was in McCarthyville that "Slippery Bill" Morrison earned his reputation as a gambler and a man who could live by his wits. The town supported a hospital and a post office. The post office was operated by a merchant named Jacobs.

The community flourished. It reached its height of notoriety in the summer and fall of 1891. As the rails moved on, there was nothing to support the community. It soon became deserted. Now, more than 70 years later, it is almost forgotten. Eugene remained in the Flathead. For 26 years, until his death about 1941, McCarthy was Justice of the Peace in Kalispell.

McCarthyville was a rough town. Many men died from disease and brawls. A cemetery was laid out, and over 100 people are buried in this plot. The cemetery is north of the townsite, on the slope of the hill about half way from the tunnel and the curve in the track that turns north into the siding at Fielding. It is on Forest Service land.

Duncan McCarthy, Eugene McCarthy's son, provided most of this information.