Capitalism on the Frontier


Capitalism on the Frontier

Billings and the Yellowstone Valley in the Nineteenth Century

Carroll Van West

297 pages
Illus., map


January 1993


$50.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Focusing on the Clark’s Fort Bottom, a twenty-five-mile stretch between present-day Park City and Billings, Montana, this pathbreaking study examines the successive stages of capitalist development in Billings and the Yellowstone Valley during the nineteenth century. From the subsistence and barter economy of the Native Americans, through the fur trade era and the settlers’ introduction of a market economy, the introduction of industrial capitalism by the Northern Pacific Railroad, and the increasing influence of corporate capitalism in the latter part of the century, Carroll Van West shows how each stage affected the relationships and choices shared by the local inhabitants.

By setting local events in a broader context, West not only illuminates the circumstances unique to the Yellowstone Valley but sheds new light on a central issue of western history: the interaction of local, regional, and national economies and the influence of corporate decisions made in the east on western settlement and urban development.

Author Bio

Carroll Van West is an assistant professor and project coordinator for the Center for Historical Preservation, Middle Tennessee State University. He is the author of A Traveler’s Companion to Montana History and Images of Billings: A Photographic History.


"Unquestionably the best study of a Montana urban place that has been written."—William Lang, coauthor of Montana: A History of Two Centuries

"This impressive study should attract a wide readership among those interested in community history on the frontier, economic development in the American West, and Montana’s history in the nineteenth century."—Clyde Milner II, Western Historical Quarterly

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