This morning's photo is an historic image of downtown Winnett, Montana, taken back in 1916. Winnett was a new homestead town back then, typical of dozens of such places all across central and eastern Montana. The place had a moment of glory, though: an oil strike at nearby Cat Creek in 1920, that briefly turned Winnett into a miniature boom town. People and equipment moved in rapidly, oil refineries were constructed, and by 1923 an estimated 2000 people called Winnett home. The town became the seat of newly-established Petroleum County in 1926.
The boom faded quickly, though, and by the end of the decade it was all mostly over. For the last 80 years Winnett has been a small and isolated ranch community ... and now Petroleum County is the least populated in all of Montana, with only 436 residents.