Bitterroot Valley
Chamber of Commerce

105 E. Main
Hamilton, MT 59840
Phone: 406-363-2400

The Bitterroot Valley Chamber of Commerce welcomes you to the Bitterroot Valley.      

Our valley is located between two mountain ranges, the Bitterroot Mountains on the west and the Sapphires on the east. Our valley offers uncommonly beautiful scenery and diverse recreational opportunities for every season. The Bitterroot Mountains were named after the Bitterroot flower, which grows profusely in the valley and is also Montana’s state flower. The Sapphire Mountain range is so named for the precious gem stone found there. The most famous Montana sapphire jewelry includes a ring and a broach: Prince Charles gave Lady Diana a Montana Sapphire engagement ring; and Tiffany & Company created an orchid broach encrusted with Montana Sapphires, which exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle.

Coming into the valley from the south, your first glimpse is of Lost Trail Pass. This pass runs between the two mountain ranges. The name reflects the experience of the Lewis and Clark Expedition as they traveled across the steep slopes in the snow and sleet.

When you come off the mountain and descend into the valley, the first town you encounter is Sula, named after Ursula Thompson, the first while child born in the basin.

Continuing south, you’ll find Darby, established in the early 1800s. Darby is a great place to stop and explore; the unique little town is western-style with lots of different shops to browse through.

Hamilton, the county seat of Ravalli County, is your next stop. The history of Hamilton began when Marcus Daly—a great finance figure of the 1880s era in Butte and Anaconda mining development—made his way into the Bitterroot Valley seeking other interests aside from mining. Around 1887 Daly bought up small sawmills west of the present site of Hamilton, and almost overnight he had established a lumber making industry on the bank of the Bitterroot River. Marcus Daly’s next move was to bring two men to plan and develop his dream town. They were James Hamilton and Robert O’Hara, who came from Minnesota in 1890. Daly named Hamilton after James Hamilton.

Corvallis is the oldest town in the valley. It was established strictly as a trading center. Corvallis is a coined word supposedly coming from the French for ‘Center of the Valley’. The town of Corvallis is in the center of the valley, directly east of Woodside across the river.

Victor is on the west side of the river and is near the site of the Curlew Mine. The mine was a very lucrative silver producer. In the mid-1860’s, A. Sterne Blake and his Shoshone wife came to the valley and were among the original founders of Victor.

The furthest town north is Florence, it was originally named ‘One Horse’, however, as the area became more populated and lumbering became more important, Mr. A. B. Hammond, who owned the Missoula Mercantile purchased all the timber in the area, and started a number of sawmills. This is when the area began to really develop, and it also was the time the name changed to Florence, in honor of Mr. Hammond’s wife, Florence. This development and expansion of the area started in the 1870s and continued through the days of the apple boom.

From north to south our valley has a wide variety of activities for you to enjoy. Everything from outdoor recreation to panning for sapphires or just relaxing and enjoying one of the many wonderful performances put on by the local Hamilton Players or the Performing Arts Center. You will not be disappointed by your venture into the Bitterroot Valley.


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