Located in southwestern Montana and established in 1865, Jefferson County is Montana's 19th most populous with 10,049 residents according to the 2000 Census. According to the Montana Almanac, Jefferson County is one of the original nine counties of the Montana Territory. The Jefferson River, named by explorers, Lewis and Clark, for President Thomas Jefferson, runs through the county. Jefferson County's slogan "The Discovered In Between" was derived from its location between Bozeman, Butte and Helena. County residents experience the four distinct seasons. Average monthly temperatures, for example in Boulder, range from a low of 8.4 degrees above in January to a high of 82.3 degrees above in July. The annual average precipitation is 11.22 inches.
According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, median income for Jefferson County households in 1997 was $41,820. The county is 1,658.9 square miles in area: 1,656.7 square miles in land area and 2.2 in inland water area.
Jefferson County abounds with natural resources and its economy is based around these, including production agriculture, wood products and mining. The mining industry is centered around two large mines at either end of the county. One large operation, about 1.5 miles off Interstate Highway 90 at State Highway 69, near Whitehall, is the Golden Sunlight Mine. It is an open pit operation that has over 170 employees and has an annual payroll of about 13 million dollars. Montana Tunnels Mining Inc., a subsidiary of Elkhorn Goldfields Corporation, is located approximately seven miles from the town of Jefferson City. Montana Tunnels is an open pit mine that produces zinc, lead, silver and gold. At their peak, they employ over 200 people and have an annual payroll over 13 million dollars. They currently employ 3 individuals and are in a 'care and maintenance' status until investment dollars can be found.
Another natural resource related business is Ash Grove Cement located near Montana City. Ash Grove, with an 83 person workforce, uses limestone, which is mined locally at a quarry, to produce bulk cement.
Finally, Jefferson County has a burgeoning youth and social services industry centered around several operations in Boulder. These include the Montana Developmental Center, ( 150+ workforce), a state institution serving people with developmental disabilities. Alternative Youth Adventures (AYA) is also located in Boulder and provides a range of services for troubled youth. AYA employs about 30 people. Riverside Corrections, a state-run detention center for juvenile females, employs about 30 people. The new Women's Elkhorn Meth Treatment Center employs 30 people and completes the Human Services industry. Liberty Place Incorporated has two facilities in Whitehall and employs 20 people providing care and services for individuals with traumatic brain injury.