St. Joseph's Catholic Mission Church
The Historic Canton Church was built in 1876 and is significant as the oldest secular Roman Catholic church still standing in Montana.
Backstory and Context
The discovery of gold in the mid-1860s in the Big Belt and Elkhorn mountains attracted miners, settlers, and businessmen to the Missouri River Valley. These people established communities in the area including Canton and Townsend (Canton no longer exists; where it was is now under the man-made Canyon Ferry Lake). Residents of Canton hoped the Northern Pacific Railroad would pass through but instead it platted Townsend where it crossed the Missouri River.
Two farmers donated some land for St. Joseph's Church. Local residents raised money for the project and built the church themselves under the direction of a carpenter. Both Catholics and non-catholics helped in the effort. The building did not originally have a steeple or vestibule; these were added in 1902. The church was moved to is present location in 1952 in preparation for the raising of the lake.
Holland, Jim. "St. Joseph's Catholic Mission Church." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. November 5, 1998. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/3073aba0-cbdd-4820-8a17-01aa04b46983.
"Welcome to the Historic Canton Church." Canton Church Restoration Foundation. Accessed June 29, 2020. https://www.canton-church.org.
Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_second_Catholic_Church_to_be_built_in_Montana.jpg