THE COUNTRYMAN FERRY
Circa 1882 - 1894
After the Crow Agency was moved to the South of Absarokee, Horace Countryman realized that a ferry to cross the river would be a good investment. Countryman provided the service with a catamaran type ferry and records show that one day he "brought in over $200". The ferry business continued until he and Joe Kern built a bridge across the river.
Before the ferry was built Countryman had swung a cable with a suspended basket that would carry two people across the river at 50 cents a person.
In 1896, Ben Hager had a small crew getting rock out of the bluffs a mile North of Columbus. This task was slow and difficult however the sandstone was easier to size and break because of its straight-line cleavage. Many buildings were built in Columbus. However, the business grew larger when the 1899 legislature appropriated funds for the construction of the state capitol allowing the contractor who got the bid to make a deal with the Hager & Company for stone from the Columbus quarry.
Billings Gazette, October 6, 1899
"The present year is a red letter year in the history of Columbus. This is not a speculators boom, but a development of the vast resources of the country. The bluffs to the north, which seemed valuable only for scenery, have been found to be the best sandstone in the state. The capitol building of Helena is being constructed of it. Already a spur of the railroad is being laid, and the vast derricks of Hager & Co. are placing the stone on the market."