McCone County is located in the central north-eastern region of Montana, south of the Missouri River and east of Fort Peck. It was established in 1919 from the surrounding counties on its eastern borders, Richland and Dawson, and was named after State Senator George McCone who had been a Dawson County Commissioner.
The county seat Circle is the largest town of the area and apparently got its name from a rancher who lived there and branded his cattle with a circle stamp, which also served as the name of the ranch. Once a post office sprang up in the area, the name Circle was also used for its name, which was the beginning of the town. The small town received something of a boost when the Northern Pacific Railroad arrived in 1928, although it had been abandoned by the 1990s.
Circle is the only incorporated community in the county, and there are two unincorporated ones by way of Brockway and Vida. Brockway is located near the Redwater River, close to the junction of Highway 200. Vida is located on Montana Highway 13, along the Big Sky BackCountry Byway, which is just over 20 miles south of Wolf Point and around 27 miles north of Circle.
McCone County covers close to 2,700 square miles, and the majority of the small population numbering less than 2,000 residents lives on farms and ranches.
The north-eastern region is not really considered as that much of a tourist spot so attractions in the county are limited, but along with the museum, the local area has a variety of musicians and artists who regularly showcase their talents in the community.
Visit the McCone County Government website.
Special Events in McCone County
- July – Annual Brockway Dairy Day Rodeo
- August – McCone County Fair
- September – Town & Country Day Celebration
Main Attractions in McCone County
The McCone County Museum
The McCone County Museum was established in its current building in Circle in 1980. The facility contains over 7,000 items of historical interest related to the area, including a wildlife collection of over 200 birds and animals mounted and displayed in their original natural surroundings.
There are also a few prehistoric throwbacks by way of the eight cement dinosaurs, and there is an old schoolhouse, a church, and a homestead house, as well as the old Northern Pacific Depot and an old caboose being within the museum’s grounds.
The museum cases contain a mix of curiosities such as arrowheads, tractor seats and barbed wire displays, and the room housing the wildlife collection (which was put together by Orville Quick, a graduate of the north-western School of Taxidermy).
The collection features over 40 years’ worth of hunting trophies from the curator’s home, along with examples of a large proportion of local wildlife. You’ll find raccoons and horned owls along with mountain lions, ducks, and geese, as well as badgers, rodents, and fish.