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
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
View of Downtown Poplar in 1950's