Photo courtesy: John Ansotegui
Photo courtesy: Daly Mansion
Photo courtesy: Bill Kuney
Hamilton is a county seat for Ravalli county. Named for J. W. Hamilton, from whom the right-of-way for the Northern Pacific line was secured. (from Cheney's Names on the Face of Montana, Mountain Press Publishing Company) The town of Hamilton is the central trade area for hundreds of small farms, ranches, and orchards that fill the valley. The Bitterroot Valley extends along U.S. Highway 93 from Missoula to the Idaho line. It includes the communities of Stevensville, Victor, Corvallis, Hamilton and Darby. Because of its location between the Bitterroot Range and the Sapphire Mountains, the climate in this corner of the state is more moderate than the rest of the state. The valley was named for the bitterroot plant (Montana's state flower) that grew here profusely when Lewis and Clark first explored the region.
Hamilton is also home to the Marcus Daly Mansion built in the late 1800s. Marcus Daly, one of Montana's colorful "Copper Kings," established Anaconda with his smelter and Hamilton with his lumber industry. He built his family a summer home in Hamilton, the heart of the beautiful Bitterroot Valley.
The mansion occupies 24,000 square feet on three floors with 24 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, and seven fireplaces. After Mrs. Daly's death in 1941, the mansion was closed until 1987, when it was reopened to the public. It is situated on gorgeous tree-lined grounds along the scenic Bitterroot River and impressive peaks of the Bitterroot Range that run more than 60 miles along the entire length of the valley.
Ravalli County Museum is located in the original Ravalli County Courthouse built in 1900. Saved from the wrecker's ball by a grassroots citizen's movement in 1979, it is now listed in the National Register of Historic Buildings and considered one of the finest museums for a city Hamilton's size. Collections and displays recapture the prehistory of the county. Highlights include the complete Rocky Mountain Laboratory display on tick fever, extensive archives, Native American clothing, implements and art, period rooms of the Victorian era, an old-fashioned kitchen, a trapper's cabin, and a veteran's display.
Elevation: 3,638 feet.