Basin, Montana

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Basin is a census-designated place (CDP) in Jefferson County, Montana, United States. It lies about 10 miles (16 km) southeast of the Continental Divide in a high narrow canyon along Interstate 15 about halfway between Butte and Helena. Basin Creek flows roughly north to south through Basin and enters the Boulder River on the settlement's south side. The population was 255 at the 2000 census.

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of human habitation from 10,000 years ago at a site near Clancy, 20 miles (32 km) from Basin. From about 2000 BCE through the mid-19th century, nomadic tribes hunted bison in the grassy valleys that trend east, away from the Rocky Mountains and into the plains. By the time miners found gold in the streams in and near Basin, most of the these tribes of Indians had been forced onto reservations by the U.S. government.

Basin rests above the Boulder Batholith, the host rock for many valuable mineral ores found in this part of Montana. After the town became a hub of gold and silver mining, Basin's population peaked at about 1,500 in first decade of the 20th century but gradually declined as the mines were depleted. Abandoned mining equipment, closed or barricaded mine portals, and the ruins of a smelter and ore concentrator remain in Basin in the 21st century.

Historic buildings from Basin's heyday form much of the core of the CDP's small business district, which includes a fire station, a post office, two restaurants, a bar, a commercial gallery, small specialty shops, and the nonprofit Montana Artists Refuge. Basin has a small elementary school, its own water system, and a low-power radio station. Local volunteers and elected trustees provide limited services to the settlement, but it relies on the government of Jefferson County, Montana, for law enforcement and other services.


Geography and geology

Basin, part of the Helena Micropolitan Statistical Area, is at 46°16′36″N 112°16′4″W / 46.27667°N 112.26778°W / 46.27667; -112.26778 (46.276564, -112.267756).[1] It lies at an elevation of 5,335 feet (1,626 m) above sea level along Interstate 15 about 27 miles (43 km) north of Butte and 35 miles (56 km) south of Helena in the narrow canyon of a small river. Basin Creek flows south through the center of Basin to its confluence with a larger stream, the Boulder River, which flows east along the south side of Basin. No paved roads except the interstate highway, which runs along the river canyon, connect Basin to other towns. About 10 miles (16 km) upstream on Basin Creek lies the Continental Divide. According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 12.8 square miles (33.2 km2), all land.

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