Poplar Chamber of Commerce

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Poplar

The actual building of town of Poplar took less than five years. However, parts of town site had been occupied since about 1865 when the early fur traders had built forts along the Missouri River. In a few years the area became part of the Fort Peck Reservation and the Army then established Camp Poplar River Post to maintain order and help capture the Indians who disturbed the peace and would not conform to reservation boundaries.

After the Army abandoned Camp Poplar River in 1893, the Fort Peck Agency Headquarters had been established here. Poplar was under the direct supervision of the Government and all people were responsible to the Indian Agent in charge. During this period no business could be established without obtaining a license from the Department in Washington, D.C., entering a bond of no less than $10000 with two good sureties. Those who already had their license to trade with Government. The fur trader, trapper, wood contractor those served in Army and those serving with the Indian Agency were exempt from the ruling. The population during this period consisted almost solely of Indians and those who fitted in the above categories. The number of buildings needed to house the agency and its government employees, The government schools and dormitories for the Indian children took most of the east end of town and is still as government row. However, only a few of the original remain and are still used in some capacity.

In 1907, Congress passed a Bill that would open up the Fort Peck Reservation to town sites and homesteading. In 1910, Major Lohmiller, Indian Agent was appointed with others on a commission to appraise lots for the various town sites on the reservation and these were opened for public sale in the Spring of 1911. Persons who were bonafide residents and owners of improvements upto five lots were given the right to show proof of their claims before the date of the sale. Thus we find the original lots and blocks as belonging to early businessmen who had previous government contracts with the Army of Fort Peck Agency. Adjoining the government buildings to the south and west were log houses and businesses of early settlers.

After the passage of the Congressional Bill, the lots were divided and Poplar had become a desirable place for the Fort Peck drawing winners to visit many of them staying to establish homes or businesses. In 1910, Poplar had about 40 businesses and two churches. Poplar had no saloons and was not to have any within the next twenty five years, as the Bill opening the Reservation had been amended prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors and beverages for that period of time.

After the opening of the reservation to homesteading in 1914, work began to establish a city form of Government and by 1916 a Mayor and four councilmen had been elected. In early 1917, Poplar was incorporated under Sheridan County, Montana. Since that time, Poplar has steadily continue to grow. According to the 1990 consensus the original town site has 881 residents, but the adjoining housing projects add an additional 3500 residents.

View of Downtown Poplar in 1950's
 

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