Photo courtesy: Mineral County Chamber
Photo courtesy: MTOT
Superior is a county seat about ten miles from the Idaho border as the crow flies and forty-eight miles by interstate. Someone gave the name to a settlement at the mouth of Cedar Creek in 1869, after his hometown of Superior, Wisconsin; and when that little village disbanded, the post office located a mile east took the name. The Northern Pacific station at this location was first called Iron Mountain, and a mill was built there to refine the ore taken from the nearby mountain by that name. The Clark Fork River bisects the town. (from Cheney's Names on the Face of Montana, Mountain Press Publishing Company)
In the 1860s and '70s, several thousand miners converged on Cedar Creek to earn their fortunes. Long after that strike played out, mining remained a mainstay of the economy. Mining, along with the development of logging and Forest Service activities contribute to the area's interesting history.
Before 1891, Superior was situated at the mouth of Johnston Creek, across the river and a little west of what is now the Leib ranch. Richard Marsh ran a dairy on that ranch. A ferry was run from Superior across the Missoula River, for the traffic from Cedar Creek. Johnston ran a combination of store saloon, and dance hall in a stone building where the garage of the Johnston ranch now stands. It catered to the miners going through on the road, which then ran just north of the Johnston ranch, following the river bank.
The Harmons were some of the early settlers of Superior, coming in the late 1890s. There were five brothers of them, Charley, Jimmy, Ernest, Bill, and Pete. They cleared off the Harmon ranch and built the ranch-house, which was meant for me to live in. It's one of the old landmarks of Superior, what's left of it. Then Jimmy Harmon built a log house, across the river, north of it.
This small town offers a break from interstate travel and an introduction to area history in the Mineral County Museum. Display subjects explore local history and industry. The nearby St. Regis-Paradise National Forest Scenic Byway is also a great break from the interstate. It lies within the Lolo National Forest. This scenic route, with the motto: The River, The People, The Land, takes motorists through varying terrain, from spacious, rolling flats to steep canyon walls where it winds through the Coeur d'Alene Mountains. The byway has long been considered an alternate route for travelers, on Interstate 90, whose destination is Flathead Lake or Glacier National Park. It also serves as a route to the National Bison Range. However, with the spectacular scenery, plentiful wildlife, and many recreational opportunities the Byway is a destination unto itself.
Elevation: 2,744 feet
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