History of Riverside

Courtesy Ravalli County Museum

The Bitterroot River, running through the heart of Hamilton, is the starting point for much of the history of this storied valley.  In 1887, The Northern Pacific Railroad began building the Bitterroot Branch Line.  By 1888, the line terminus, Riverside, was located just south of the current Veterans’ Memorial Bridge.  While the railroad was busy expanding, Marcus Daly, famous copper baron and legendary Montana businessman, was busy remodeling a modest farmhouse into the elegant Queen Anne style Victorian home. Another remodel, after Marcus's death in 1900,  is the Georgian-Revival style home you see east of the cottages.   Christened “Riverside” by the Dalys, the climate in the valley was perfect for raising their thoroughbred horses.   Marcus Daly steadily built his land holding throughout the valley, eventually reaching over 26,000 acres for his Bitterroot Stock Farm.  Tammany, the most famous of the Daly horses, arrived at Riverside Station, and with the Dalys crossed the dirt lane north of the cottage development and the Council on Aging Campus to arrive at the mansion and stables.    

Courtesy Ravalli County Museum
Susie Wilkinson

The Northern Pacific Railroad relocated their tracks in 1928 to the present location, cutting off a 20-acre parcel of the Riverside property.  Mrs. Daly sold this piece of land to Harvey Wilkinson, who farmed it with his family for many years.  In 2000, Harvey’s daughter, Susie Wilkinson, donated the acreage to the Council on Aging.  Susie farmed the land with her father, creating memories, stories and living the life of a Bitterroot Valley farmer and rancher.  Susie continued to live in the small farmhouse just north of the Council office until she passed at the age of 99.   The Council continues to fulfill its mission of “providing the opportunity for independence” in no small part due to the generous gift of Susie Wilkinson. 


For more history of Marcus Daly and the Daly family, visit the Daly Mansion website.