Cradled in the outstretched arms of the mighty Missouri and the free flowing Yellowstone to the south, Richland County is the only county in Montana with two major rivers running through it. Richland County's 2084 square miles are tucked neatly in the heart of the fertile Lower Yellowstone Valley, just a few miles from the confluence of the Missouri and the Yellowstone Rivers.
The county ranks at or near the top of all Montana counties in a number of agriculture and other production areas, including number one in the production of sugar beets and oats. The county also ranks second in oil production in the state, and its livestock center is sixth in number of animals handled in the course of the year. Its county seat of Sidney is a major shopping center in Eastern Montana and also attracts many western North Dakota shoppers. Its exceptional medical facilities add to Richland County's status as a major retail center for the region.
The area is steeped in the lore of the American West. Lewis & Clark visited the region in 1805, noted the abundant wildlife and recommended the confluence as a strategic site for the burgeoning fur trade of the time. Taking their advice to heart, the American Fur Company established Fort Union Trading Post in the mid 1830's and is now a National Historic Site which has been partially restored. Fort Union was followed in 1866 by Fort Buford, a military post built just about a mile downstream, whose personnel were responsible for protecting the lucrative fur trade and later the many homesteaders flocking to the region aided by the arrival of the railroad.
In 1902 the Lower Yellowstone Reclamation Project was begun. Opened in 1909, it served as a model irrigation system for the rest of the country. Holly Sugar Company spurred further interest in irrigation when it built its sugar beet refinery at Sidney in 1925. In 2002 the factory was sold to American Crystal and was renamed Sidney Sugars, Inc.
Agriculture was and remains the principal industry. With its irrigated bottom land in the southeast and its rolling hills to the west, Richland County sports an abundance or arable land and wildlife habitat. Badlands and rugged river breaks add further spice to the landscape and the Richness of Richland County.
Richland County Website: www.richland.org