In 1911, Governor Norris created Musselshell County from parts of Fergus County towards the north of the Musselshell River, parts of Yellowstone County southwards of the river, and parts of Meagher County in the west. The county gets its name from the mussel shells that populate the river named by Lewis and Clark, the two young explorers who charted the lands west of the Mississippi River as part of the Corps Discovery Expedition.
North of Montana’s most populous county, Yellowstone, Musselshell County is located in South-Central Montana, between Petroleum and Fergus Counties. Golden Valley County was created in 1915 from a section of Musselshell County located west of the state.
In addition to the Musselshell River, which irrigates 12,000 acres of land, Flatwillow Creek, Willow Creek, and Swimming Woman Creek also provide water to thousands of acres of farmland in the county’s northernmost reaches.
With an area of 1,868 square miles and around 4,600 residents, Musselshell County is one of Montana’s smaller counties. Dry farming is particularly well-suited to the county’s environment, and stock-raising thrives there as well. The county’s coal production is also exceptional given its size, earning it prominence among mining districts.
Since 1908, Roundup has served as Musselshell county’s seat and hub for cattle roundups. The town of Melstone, which was once a hub of the oil industry but is now a gathering spot for rural farmers, is located 13 miles to the east.
Located about 20 miles east of Roundup, Musselshell is a sleepy little hamlet where the former school now functions as the community center, the local church is still going strong, and there’s a post office right next door.
For more than a century after its discovery, Devil’s Basin was an important source of revenue for the northern part of this county. Since then, the county has maintained a small-scale agricultural economy.
Resilient and regenerative, Musselshell County is a community that can weather any economic storm. The 2011 Flood, the 2012 Fires, and the 2013 Flood have physically altered the landscape of the County. However, the people have remained resolute in their efforts to collaborate with local industry and government to reconstruct important highways, bridges, and residences.
Visit the Musselshell County Government website.
- July – 4th of July Rodeo in Roundup
- July – 4H Fair & Livestock Sale in Roundup
- July – Roundup Independence Days Extravaganza (R.I.D.E.) in Roundup
- Aug – Cars & Pars in Roundup
- Dec – Roundup Christmas Stroll in Roundup
The Musselshell River is a vital backbone for central Montana. The river’s catchment is around 9,500 square miles in size, and it is home to approximately 9,325 people. The Musselshell River travels from the North and South Forks confluence in Martinsdale to Fort Peck Reservoir, providing a steady water supply to ranches, farms, and settlements.
The Musselshell is mostly fished by locals due to limited accessibility. If you are an angler seeking solitude, then this is the place for you. That is why this river is the ideal companion to one of Montana’s most extensively fished rivers. The visiting angler can enjoy one of Montana’s top fly-fishing experiences and retire to Musselshell at the end of the day.
Roundup Heritage RiverWalk
Originally conceived as an initiative in 2000, the Roundup RiverWalk Heritage Trail is now a reality. In collaboration with the Musselshell Valley Community Foundation’s Roundup Arts and Culture Committee, it is an initiative of the Roundup Arts and Culture Committee. On the banks of the Musselshell River, the Musselshell Heritage Trail and RiverWalk provide stunning scenery.
The Musselshell County Fairgrounds hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including the 4-H fair, the Fourth of July Rodeo, and the Fall Festival. Mills Memorial Field is a wonderful community resource as well. The Slugfest, a co-ed adult softball league, has previously been held in Mills Park.
Musselshell Valley Historical Museum
In Roundup, the Musselshell Valley Historical Museum chronicles the town’s agricultural and ranching past, along with its mining and homesteading history. The structure, which was once a Catholic school, was turned into a museum in the 70s and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This museum depicts what life was like for early inhabitants of the area and how the small hamlet of Roundup is doing today. You’ll be drawn in by the paintings on the walls as soon as you step in the door.
The gallery is entirely devoted to the works of local artists. There are photos of activities at Marion Park, the site of the first county fairs, dating back to 1915.
In the first room, you’ll find Indian relics, petrified crystals and wood, and an antique mussel shell from the Musselshell River. Along with local antiques, the museum houses fossils and rocks from all over Montana.
The second floor will pique the interest of animal and nature lovers. The natural science exhibit showcases the local fauna, such as bobcats and rattlesnakes, in their natural habitat.