The earliest inhabitants of the Twin Bridges area were Indian tribes, most notably the Shoshone. These tribes developed four trails which centered at a natural ford in the bend of the Beaverhead River north the present town. As these trails were direct, they were used by early settlers and freighting companies, thus helping to establish the community that would become Twin Bridges.

In 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition came through the Twin Bridges area while searching for a water passage through the northwest. The Expedition was accompanied by a Shoshone woman, Sacajawea and she was reunited with her tribe near Twin Bridges.

After Lewis & Clark's Expedition, the first white man known to come to the Twin Bridges area was Captain Richard Grant who came to winter cattle during the time of Mormon trouble in Utah in 1850 and 1860.Between 1858 and 1861, John Meeks was the first to make a house in the area where Twin Bridges now stands. His home stood by the Beaverhead River near the old Indian ford. Meeks, like Grant, had come to the area to winter his stock.

In 1864, two enterprising brothers came to the Ruby Valley, Judge M.H. and John T. Lott. The Lott brothers are given credit for the establishment of Twin Bridges. The Lotts built bridges across the Beaverhead River and Big Hole Rivers in 1865. Later, they built another bridge on the Beaverhead at the Point of Rocks. Feeling that this would be the hub of the valley, they began constructing and improving roads. Bridge toll was charged for several years until the bridges became the responsibility of the county. The place was originally known as "The Bridges". The first house in town was a log cabin situated approximately at 203 North Bridges Street, formerly known as the Lemm House or the Comfort House. The Lott brothers were also among the leaders of the vigilantes who rid the valley of a gang of murderous road agents lead by the local sheriff.

By 1867, the Lotts had acquired four sections of land east of the bridge on the Beaverhead and for several years lots were given to all who would build on them. Land was also donated for public buildings. By the turn of the century there were three hotels and dining rooms, a grain elevator, two garages, a creamery, a theater, two blacksmith shopes two churches, new schools, saloons, a Chinese laundry and restaurant, and other enterprises. Much of this economic growth was the result of the successful efforts of J.M. Page, Pat Carney and Judge Lott to bring the State Orphans Home to Twin Bridges.

The Montana State Orphans Home, located just west of Twin Bridges, was opened in 1894 and operated until 1975. The buildings are currently being renovated and the campus centers around a lovely Victorian administration building.

There were few public gatherings except for dancing and church functions until the development of the park, known now as the Madison County Fairgrounds. Dr. Pease was struck with the beauty and possibilities of the park-like grove west of the Beaverhead River and suggested a Harvest home barbecue. The event brought hundreds from all parts of the cunty, and it became an annual event. Later Dr. Pease promoted a stock company and the annual Fairs began in 1889.

Sources: Twin Bridges , Pioneer Trails and Trials; Early History of Twin Bridges by Margaret Lott.

From Brook collection - 1875 - looking southeast - on the left is the old Masonic Building
and on the right is
the M. H. Lott Ranch Buildings.


From Thomas Brook collection - 1879 - Twin Bridges, Montana.


From Thomas Brook collection - 1879 - Wagon train at Twin Bridges, Montana


From Thomas Brook collection - 1887 - J. R. Comfort's Blacksmith shop at Twin Bridges, Montana.
The Tobacco Root Mountains are in the distance.

From Thomas Brook collection - 1880 - Four men operating a steam saw
in middle of Twin Bridges Main street.


From Thomas Brook collection - 1880 Good Templers Hall. -Daisy Comfort is standing with her bicycle.