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Founded in 1883 by Paris Gibson and railroad magnate James J. Hill, Great Falls began as a planned power city, situated to take advantage of the hydroelectric power of the waterfalls of the Missouri River. Historian William J. Furdell described it as "a businessman's town" and it was said that the city "couldn't point to a boot hill or a hangin' tree."
In 1884, the Great Falls post office was recognized by the United States Postal Service. In 1889, construction on the Black Eagle Dam began, which would provide the city with hydroelectric power by the following year.