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Men flooded to the Montana frontier for gold, furs, rich land, and jobs. Women followed, but their options were more limited. Here are stories of women who made a desperate choice, turning the law of supply and demand to their advantage. Many eked out a meager but independent existience; grit and business acumen brought remarkable wealth and influence—even respectability—to a few. From Alzada to Yaak, these enterprising women shaped Montana communities, in some cases helping to fund social programs and public education.