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How did Cascade come to be?

The town of Cascade grew out of several other communities. Near the present site of Cascade, but on the east side of the Missouri, a small town developed at the ferry (nicknamed "The Mayflower") for the Chesnut Valley freight and stage route.
In l 879, George Steele, who also had a store at Sun River, opened a new store in this new settlement, which by 1880 was named Ulidia.
In 1885, the name was changed to Gorham. At that time Thomas Gorham, who later opened a store across the river, managed the Steele Store. In 1886, the land was sold to James and Mary Erskine, and in 1889 the town name was changed to St. Clair after the couple's baby who had just died. This small town flourished — residents built homes, and the Rev. Little started the Methodist church in 1889. It’s believed that the St. Clair school was held in the living room of the log cabin parsonage. A Chinese family also ran a restaurant in Steele's store.
In 1886, the Montana Central (later the Great Northern) started building its tracks from Great Falls on the west side of the river. Starting as a railroad-crew town, a new settlement named Dodge appeared, complete with a post office run by Thomas Gorham as postmaster. When the railroad was completed in 1887, the name was changed to Cascade. Just two months before, the Territorial Legislature established Cascade County from parts of Meagher, Choteau, Lewis and Clark, and Fergus. Before this action, the Missouri had divided Lewis and Clark County from Meagher County.
A bridge over the Missouri River was built in 1893, and it replaced the ferry which stopped operating. Business activity soon moved from St. Clair to Cascade, with some of the homes even being moved from St. Clair. In 1893, the St. Clair post office was closed and the town ceased to be.
Cascade grew. Gorham and his wife had platted the town site in 1888, and Jemison Perkins had added land to that plat in 1890. Numerous businesses appeared — stores, an elevator, a creamer, a drug store, liveries, tailoring shops, bakeries, restaurants, a saw mill, stockyards and shearing sheds, banks and numerous saloons (some say as many as 11). The town was incorporated in 1911, and in 1914 the newspaper, The Cascade Courier,  stated that Cascade was a boom town with 52 business establishments.

 Augustus Wedsworth

The will of Augustus Wedsworth provided funds for a gymnasium and a library, and the town also boasted the services of a doctor and lawyers. Clubs formed, such as the Commercial Club, the Odd fellows, who built a two-story hall, the Rod and Gun Club, the Volunteer Firemen, the Masons and the Eastern Star.
The first school reportedly was a dug-out log building on the river bank. During the summer of 1887, classes were held there for four or five children. In l 887, a one-story frame and brick building was built on the south side of Central Avenue, and in 1909 a new three-story brick school was completed on the hill at the west end of Central Avenue. It was used until 1957 when a new school was erected and the old one demolished.
The growth would stop, however, and by 1930 there were half of the former businesses still open. With the advent of a good road to Great Falls, most business establishments closed as people traveled to Great Falls to shop. Still, the town has survived. In fact, the little horse and buggy village has grown to a town of over 700 people, with many more in the surrounding rural communities whose mailing address is Cascade.
Cascade has produced a number of people who have reached beyond the local area in their success. However, two individuals have become particularly famous. Charlie Russell met his future wife Nancy in Cascade. She was visiting relatives, and the smitten Charlie began his courtship. They were married in Cascade and lived in the town the first year of their married life.
Another well-known person is Mary Fields, an African-American who came as a free woman to St. Peter's Mission in 1885 to help Mother Amadeus. She moved to Cascade in 1895, where she ran a restaurant, drove the mail stage to the mission, served as the baseball team mascot, and baby-sat for several families. She died in 1914 and is buried in Hillside Cemetery near Cascade.

Mary Fields

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