Townsend, MT did not get its start as a farming community or a mining town. It was a planned and implemented project conducted by the Northern Pacific Railroad. According to the book “Broadwater Bygones”, copyrighted in 1977, the railroad chose the location to build a station, and a town.
The land was purchased from a rancher in the area, and plats were drawn up in 1882. They were officially filed in 1883. This was also the year that the first railroad station was built in the town.
Lots were then offered for the sale price of $300 per lot, according to the Rocky Mountain Husbandman. (Diamond City Mont. 1875 – 1943) newspaper on Page 3, December 7, 1882. They sold well and the town sprang up in a very short period of time.
There is quite a contrast in the prices of town lots at Townsend and Livingston. Evidently the railroad company has a pre- ponderance of faith in Livingston, else it would not hold its lots there at $800 and $1.000 each, while it sells Townsend lots at $300. It is probable the company will build its White Sulphur Springs branch from Livingston instead of Townsend, as we have conjectured.
Townsend apparently got its name from that of a railroad official. You can read the letter from the Northern Pacific Railroad in the Broadwater Bygones book, available at the Broadwater Historical Society in Townsend.
Townsend Montana is full of a rich history of politics, agriculture, and mining. Check out the Museum in town to get a full walk through of all the little towns around the area as well.