Read Part One -- Even after the white man had set up permanent residence in the valley, Indians continued to frequent the area. A July 4, 1890 newspaper article tell us, "A balloon was up at 9 o'clock at night, illuminated by fireflies that were caught at the mouth of Demon's cave, near the foot of the lake. It was filled with gas, and being the first one ever let go here, the natives went wild with delight." Then, on September 28th, Lillian wrote, "Indians call. Sell them $1.00 worth of groceries and get Bill and Fred gloves and meat."
The incredible leeway given the Indians in their annual hunts is amazing. A September 25th newspaper article reported, "A small band of Indians are camped near the narrows." On October 6th it said, "Chief Ten Doy and his followers are camped at Cliff Lake and are slaughtering elk, deer, and everything they chance to see. They have a pass from the agent at Lemhi to come to Montana for two months to hunt elk." The settlers' feelings are evident in a November 5th newspaper report. "Fred and Will Dingler were up here on a hunt, but as Ten Doy and his bold fellows have been in the vicinity this fall, the game has all been killed or driven away and the boys were unsuccessful." Since white men were not allowed to kill elk in the valley, it is easy to understand how hard feelings could develop. However, their return reported on September 21st, 1891, seems to have been their last.
No history of the Centennialwould be complete without a mention of the stage line which carried visitors through the valley from Monida, Montana to West Yellowstone from 1898 - 1907. The M-Y line sold three excursion trips from Monida through Yellowstone National Park. Their outfit consisted of twelve 11-passenger and four 3-passenger Concord coaches, eighty horses, two buggies, and forty employees.
Looking at Monida today, it is hard to imagine anything ever happened there. However, at one time tourists flocked to the town, stayed in its hotel and visited the local saloons before embarking on a six to eight day round trip to Yellowstone National Park. Thirty miles outside of Monida the stage passed through the then-booming town of Lakeview. Today Lakeview consists of the Refuge headquarters and a few private landholdings; back then it had a hotel, a general store, a post office, two bars, and a good blacksmith. Four miles past Lakeview George Shambow leased buildings and a stable to the stage line for a lunch and horse switching station. Then it was on up the valley for the overnight stop at the Dwelle residence.
It is hard to comprehend the vast numbers who rode the train to Monida, only to take the long stage ride across the Centennial Valley before reaching their destination - Yellowstone National Park. However the Madisonian Newspaper reported on August 28, 1902, that the stage line ". . .has carried over 12,000 passengers to the National Park this season and are having all they can handle every day. They have had to put on extra teams to accommodate the large number of tourists."
Like every other era in history, this one soon met its demise. Out dated by the faster and more efficient motorized transportation and the addition of a Union Pacific branch line from St. Anthony, Idaho to West Yellowstone, Montana, the stage line ceased operation in 1909, although the M-Y continued tours of the Park until 1916. It was probably this change, as much as anything else, which guaranteed the delayed expansion of the Centennial.
One of the many 'unique' things about the Centennial is the lack of a 'town'. However, it still had its characters. For example, Jack Hamilton and his wife who ran Al Forsythe's store. Jack is remembered for having a terrible temper. However, if you could get to the store after he and his wife had a row, they would outdo each other giving things away. Another character, Slim Newton led a colorful life during Prohibition making moonshine and doging revenuers.
Town living didn't necessarily mean life was any easier. Take Christmas Day, 1894. A blizzard blew into Lakeview that was so bad residents had to stretch a rope from the house to the barn just to keep from getting lost while going to feed the stock and milk the cows! Continue on to Part Three.