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Hilger is north of Lewistown and was named for David J. Hilger, early resident and prominent citizen of the area. For many years Hilger was secretary of the Montana Historical Society in Helena. The town was originally known as Kendall, after a mining camp a few miles to the west. In 1913, three heavy gold bars were put on the train at Hilger, the last gold shipment from the Kendall Mine, according to the Wells Fargo messenger Frank Kowatch, who was there to deposit the gold in the train's special safe. (from Cheney's Names on the Face of Montana, Mountain Press Publishing Company) You can see the remains of the Kendall mine several miles west of town on a dirt road. But the town's major gold mine and mill, located at the top of Main Street, was owned by the Barnes-King Development Company, which developed the mine in 1900-01.
In 1911, the Milwaukee Railroad created Hilger about six miles east of Kendall. Many of the Kendall residents and businesses moved their buildings to the new town. Large-scale mining at Kendall ended the next year, although some local mines continued to operate until 1923.
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