• Paris Gibson in the Land of Opportunity

    By Jasen Emmons

    The enduring legacy of Paris Gibson — founder of Great Falls, United States senator, pioneering sheep rancher — began at a waterfall in Minnesota. Gibson was 24 at the time, enjoying a break from running his family’s homestead near Brownfield, Maine.

    Two years earlier he’d graduated from Bowdoin College with honors as part of the class of 1852, and his father, Abel Gibson, a prominent farmer, lumberyard owner and former captain in the War of 1812, had encouraged his youngest son to leave the East Coast and build a home in “the new western land of opportunity.”

    Gibson didn’t hesitate and headed west. He got as far as Illinois before receiving a message to return home immediately: His father had died.

    Dutifully, Gibson returned home and took over the family farm, Gibson Place.

    To find out how Gibson made it to what would become Great Falls, find this issue on newsstands. To read more Montana all year, subscribe now.