A Brief History of Victor

Chief Plenty of Horses aka Chief Victor
Chief Plenty of Horses / Chief Victor

With the timbered Bitterroot Mountains to the west; meadows with tall grasses flowing in the breeze; Bitterroot flowers; camas bulbs; other native crops scattered along the foothills; and cold, crisp mountain streams finding their way to the river, the Salish occupied the Bitterroot Valley before the earliest trappers and explorers came. Salish sweat lodges and campsites occupied the areas now known as Sweat House Creek, Indian Prairie Loop, and Chief Victor Camp Road, to name a few.

The first white people to visit the Victor area were members of the Lewis and Clark expedition when they traveled through in 1805. Chief Plenty of Horses, christened Victor, was chief of the Salish from 1842-1870. Chief Victor died in the summer of 1870 on a hunt near Three Buttes in eastern Montana.

Founded on August 20, 1881, the town was originally named Garfield, in honor of President James A. Garfield. Later, when applying for a post office destination for the town, it was discovered that the name “Garfield” was already taken. It was renamed for Chief Victor of the Salish tribe and the name Victor was made official December 12, 1881. Shortly afterwards, Victor experienced the railroad and silver mining boom along with prosperity in lumber and agriculture.