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Jefferson County was created in 1865 when the legislature of the newly formed Montana Territory met for the first time. Its residents played a significant role in the development of economic stability, educational opportunities, and solid communities in southwestern Montana. Through the efforts of Jefferson County pioneers, ranching, railroading, and mining became a secure way of life. The early towns of Whitehall and Boulder provided lodging for travelers along the Virginia City to Fort Benton stage routes, and Whitehall later became a center for railroad commerce when the Northern Pacific established a base there. In 1883, Boulder became the seat of local government, while the surrounding area provided a viable agricultural economy. Fertile ores of gold and silver yielded riches in the small communities of Elkhorn, Basin, Comet, and Clancy. The hardworking residents of Jefferson County enhanced the history of Montana through their efforts in the mining, ranching, and railroad industries.