National Geographic : 1890 Jul
218 National GeographicMagazine. AREA AND KINDS OF LANDS. The total area of Montana is 146,080 square miles, or 93,491,200 acres. Of this vast empire 31,373,000 acres or about one-third of the whole is agricultural land, while of this 18,157,000 acres or a little less than one-fifth of the entire area is irrigable land, so classified not only because it will, if provided with water, raise profitable crops, but also because, in my opinion, water can with proper management be provided for it. Of the total area of the State only about 1,200,000 acres or less than one-sixteenth of the irrigable area may be easily cultivated, by this I do not mean that this whole amount is now reclaimed, but that it may with the means liable to'be employed by private parties with limited capital, be readily brought under cultivation by the same methods by which most of the lands in Montana are now irrigated. The amount of land actually under cultivation, according to the assessment of 1888, was 348,070 acres, and this should prob ably be increased by about one-half, since the farmers doubtless greatly underestimated the amounts of their cultivated lands to the assessor : perhaps then, 500,000 acres under cultivation would be nearer the truth. It is estimated that three-fourths of the remaining 75,000,000 acres not classed above as irrigable, or say. 55,000,000 acres, which is nearly two-thirds of the total area of the State, will, with the increased facilities for watering live stock and for domestic use offered by the highest state of irrigation development, become valuable as grazing land, since it is naturally covered with an abundant growth of bunch grass, and only needs better facilities for watering and for the establishment of home farms, to cause it to be entirely occupied for grazing purposes. Nearly, or quite all, of the lands above classified as agricultural and pasture lands, are now covered with an abundant growth of bunch grass, occasional patches of sage brush or prickly pear, and devoid of any timber other than patches of willows and cot tonwoods along the streams, or a few isolated clumps of scrub pines and junipers on the highest lands. About 10,000,000 of the remaining 20,000,000 acres are excel lent timber lands and are situated on the slopes and sides of the higher mountains, though west of the Continental Divide the valleys and flat bench lands are sometimes covered with timber.