A lone miner discovered silver ore at Philipsburg  (pop. 940, elev. 5,195 feet) in 1864, but he didn’t pursue his claim. His barroom oratory about the rich deposits, however, attracted more ambitious miners. In 1866 the rich Hope Mine, Montana’s first silver mine, was established, and by the next year the camp boasted 700 inhabitants. The silver deposits were rich enough to attract the Northern Pacific’s spur line to Philipsburg in 1887.
The Bimetallic Mining Company entered the town in 1885. At the time it was the state’s largest silver mill, and its smokestacks still tower over Philipsburg. Its demand for power led to the creation of Georgetown Lake .