The town of Saco got its start because of
the need of a place for a Great Northern Railroad water tank. A boxcar
served as the section house for two years until a real section house was
built in 1889. The railroad agents could not decide on a name, so they
spun a globe and a finger landed on Saco, Maine.
The post office was
established in 1892 and the town was incorporated in 1918. At one time
Saco was a bustling town of 1500 or more people and had numerous
businesses. Some of the original buildings still remain. It is now a
community of 224.
In the early days it had its local outlaws such as Kid Curry and Long
In the early 30’s gravel and rock that was used in the building of Fort
Peck dam came from an area 18 miles northwest of Saco. A community
called Cole sprang up there that consisted of people who dug and hauled
the gravel and rock. Now the holes where the gravel came from have
filled with spring water. Known as Cole Ponds they are a great place to
fish for Bass and Trout.
The drilling of Natural Gas was started in the early 1930’s in the
Bowdoin Field “Big Dome.” The town of Saco drilled its own gas well in
1936, which took 6 weeks to drill.
During this same time period, natural gas was discovered in the area
surrounding Saco. It since has established a municipal gas distribution
system and has supplied the town with low cost natural gas for 75 years.
During this same time period while drilling for gas in the area an
underground hot water spring was discovered. The CC’s built pools and
buildings from the native rock around the well. The American Legion ran
it, and it was called the Plunge. It is now privately owned and the name
was changed to The Sleeping Buffalo Resort. The name pays homage to
large rock that resembled a sleeping buffalo. It was found just north of
there along the Milk River overlooking Cree Crossing, a historic river
crossing of the Cree Indians. The rock was moved from there to its
current location along US highway 2 at the turn off for the resort and
Nelson reservoir. Native Americans still visit the rock and leave
Nelson reservoir was created to provide irrigation for local crops. It
has since become a popular recreation area with 113 cabin sites.
Boating, water skiing, swimming, and fishing for walleye, northern pike,
and perch are all enjoyed today.
Some of the first explores of this area were the dinosaurs which lived
here millions of years ago. Many real fossils have been discovered in
the area including “Ocasphil.” Many, many years later Lewis and Clarke
passed through the area on their exploration of the west.
Saco was also the proud home town of Chet Huntley, national news
commentator, who attended the one room Huntley school which is now
located in Saco. “Be patient and have courage—there will be better and
happier news some day, if we work at it” (Chet Huntley, on his final