Toole County, Montana

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Classic and vintage car show on Main Street in small-town America

Do you enjoy time in nature with epic views and rich history? Toole County is primarily agricultural land with ranching and farming communities with only 2.8 people making up every square mile.

Located in the northern part of the state Toole County, Montana was first settled by Native Americans in the 1800s but was formalized, formed in 1914. The territory was taken from combined parts of Teton and Hill Counties to create Toole County – the nature-rich environment perfect for visiting and exploring.

Today Toole County embraces visitors who enjoy boating and fishing around Lake Elwell and the Marias River, hiking, golfing, recreation trails, exploring wildlife, and floating on the rivers. Hiking along the Roadrunner Recreation Trail is a favorite pastime for visitors and locals alike.

The county seat of Toole County is Shelby, named in honor of Peter O. Shelby, general manager of the Montana Central Railway. With the majority of the county living in Shelby, one can expect most attractions and entertainment are found in town.

What first put Shelby on the map in the modern world was ​​on July 4, 1923a heavyweight boxing match between Jack Dempsey and Tommy Gibbons was hosted in Shelby for the undisputed world heavyweight boxing championship title.

Visit the Toole County Government website.

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County Towns

Adjacent Counties

Special Events

Main Attractions in Toole County

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Marias Valley Golf and Country Club

Marias Valley Golf and Country Club is a course with a rich history, which includes being the first golf course in Montana to be owned by a women. The club also offers hiking along the Roadrunner Recreation Trail and through the area’s natural beauty.

The course opened in 1969 and was designed by Carl Theussen. The clubhouse is new and enjoyed by visitors looking to relax with a delicious lunch after a game.

Roadrunner Recreation Trail

In an effort to make healthy choices readily available, Shelby erected The Roadrunner Recreational Trail. This hilly trail is fully paved for miles and offers a two or 5-mile adventure for walking,  jogging, and enjoying the wildlife. The trail is flanked with Rocky Mountain views and is meant to be fun and challenging for all ages.

Marias Museum of History & Art

According to the Toole County page, the Maria Museum of History and Art boasts hundreds of unique and informative displays relating to Toole County’s exciting past. Formerly the home of Mrs. Fulton and her son William Fulton, Jr. the home was deeded to Toole County and the museum was born when the artifacts were moved into the home in 1977.

Some treasures you can expect to see at this free museum are information on the history of oil, a lighter collection, a camera collection, bullet shell casings, old pictures, and an old schoolroom.

Champions Park

The location and preservation of Dempsey-Gibbons World Heavyweight Championship Fight held on July 4,1923 can be found at Champion Park. The park is an open space that hosts private events and also the local Shelby Market and Music.

One can take time to examine the Interpretive displays in the park documenting the events which shaped the community as well as learn more about the history of the Heavyweight Championship.

Lake Shel-Oole Campground

Whether you enjoy fly fishing or ice fishing, Shelby’s Lake Shel-oole Campground and battlefield complex welcome guests year-round to experience all the lake has to offer.

From nature trails and hiking to ice fishing and ice skating campers can find themselves entertained. During the summer the four-ball fields are filled with lively games of little league and softball.

For $25 per night (honor system) one can rent one of the 46 campsites and enjoy clean showers with hot water and the adjacent Roadrunner Recreation Trail and surrounding prairie lands.

Tiber Dam/Reservoir & Lake Elwell

For excellent year-round angling for walleye, northern and sauger pike, native trout, ling, perch, and others, Tiber Dam/Reservoir & Lake Elwell is the place to start.

With excellent boating and swimming, 178 miles of shoreline and marina, and well-maintained boat ramps many find themselves not only fishing but camping around the lake during the warm months.