News of the day: Laurel is a greater metropolis than anyone could have imagined

By 
Kathleen Gilluly
Thursday, December 10, 2020
The east side of First Ave. in 1920 boasted the Strand Theatre in the location where Town Square now sits. Check out the convertible on the left side of the photo.

The east side of First Ave. in 1920 boasted the Strand Theatre in the location where Town Square now sits. Check out the convertible on the left side of the photo.

The volunteer firefighters of 1920 were understandably proud of the new fire truck purchased by the city. It was equipped with bells, whistles and everything a modern fire truck needed.

The volunteer firefighters of 1920 were understandably proud of the new fire truck purchased by the city. It was equipped with bells, whistles and everything a modern fire truck needed.

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Underneath the colorful 1920 Christmas cover, the Dec. 15 edition of The Laurel Outlook of almost a century ago rejoiced at the city’s fortune throughout the previous year. The paper devoted two extra sections to an examination of Laurel’s growth and prosperity. Not only did the population grow considerably in the 10 years prior, but there was a substantial building boom, both in commercial and residential properties.

As reported, “From a population of 806 in 1910 to one of 2,239 in 1920 is the astounding growth that Laurel has made in the past 10 years, according to the official figures of the census bureau at Washington, D.C. Compare this with the increases made by other towns and some idea of the magnitude of Laurel’s progress will be obtained.” The Outlook added, “During the past 10 years Laurel’s growth has been 178 percent or an increase of more than two and three-fourths its population … From a straggling village of a half-dozen houses in 1906 Laurel has made the almost incomprehensible growth to a city of generous proportions in 1920. From a hamlet boasting only one street there now greets the vision a thriving, prosperous city, magnificently laid out and humming with the pleasant sounds of industry of its contented and busy people.”

Among other business enterprises, Laurel was able to boast of three banks with more than three-quarters of $1 million in deposits. Laurel State Bank, Citizens National Bank and American Bank had $795,415.55 in total deposits as of Nov. 15, 1920, according to the paper. “In 1914 the loans amounted to $227,492.92 and on Nov. 15 of this year they were $711,304.77, or a gain of $483,811.85. This shows business and farming expansions, for few indeed are the concerns and individuals who can finance their projects without aid,” reported the Outlook.

Among the important industries in the young city were the railroad, which was paramount in facilitating jobs and growth, and sugar beets, which was touted as an important crop, as well as livestock. The land, being especially productive with irrigation, was the backbone of the farming and agricultural industries. According to the Outlook, “The value of the farm land about Laurel, both irrigated and unirrigated, has increased steadily in value during recent years. Eastern people who seek profitable land investments are coming to Montana of late and buy here where their money will have a chance to double its return. As a result of this, values have leaped from $15 a few years ago to $75 an acre in the dry land districts, and in the Yellowstone valley choice land has sold for $200 an acre.”

As noted in this week’s history column, the city also added a number of improvements for the residents, including sidewalks and streetlights.

Despite hardships of the time which included a coal shortage, railroad strikes and sickness, the businesses and trade in the city were doing very well, according to the reports.

(Next week read about Laurel’s schools, churches and businesses in 1920)

Category:

The Laurel Outlook

 

You can find the historic archives of our paper here:

https://laureloutlook.newspapers.com/

 

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