On Father’s Day, we appreciate all of the things that dear ol’ dad has done for us: life lessons, wisdom, trips together, hunting, shared jokes, and such. So a hearty “thanks!” to all the dads out there – including mine, of course. But this is a blog about Great Falls, so let’s take a moment to remember the man who is, after all, the “Father Of Great Falls” — Paris Gibson. He’s not just some guy that we named a museum and a school for…he really did create our fair community. Here’s a quick sketch of Gibon’s life:
GIBSON, PARIS: Senator from Montana; born in Brownfield, Oxford County, Maine, July 1, 1830; engaged in the real estate business; member, State house of representatives 1854; settled in Minneapolis, Minn., in 1858; built and operated flour and woolen mills; in 1879 moved to Fort Benton, Mont.; engaged in sheep raising, coal mining, railroads and water power; founded the city of Great Falls, Mont., in 1882 and became the first mayor; delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1889; elected to the State senate in 1890; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill vacancy caused by resignation of William A. Clark and served from March 7, 1901, to March 3, 1905; was not a candidate for reelection; resumed his business interests; died in Great Falls, Mont., December 16, 1920; interment in Highland Cemetery.
And Gibson was deliberate in his plans for Great Falls:
He made plans for a city, then laid them out before James Hill, a man of great importance in the railroad industry. Hill gave his financial backing to Gibson, knowing that a city in such an area would make a valuable connection for the railroads. Unlike many other western cities, Great Falls was planned by a practical and extremely thoughtful man. While organizing the town, Gibson made sure the streets were laid out in a precise, arrow- straight pattern, plus he set aside 886 acres for city parks. Gibson believed beauty was important in a city and personally made sure that elm, ash, and fir trees were planted on every street and boulevard.
Believe me, I appreciate the grid structure of our community; most other towns and cities arose through geographical accident and grew haphazardly. So on Father’s Day, let’s take a moment to remember the Father of Great Falls: thanks, Paris Gibson!