Basin was founded in 1880 by two miners named Allport and Lawson. The first post office was established that same year with Julius Martin as the postmaster. A trade center was started when prospectors found gold in 1862 in this area, and ore was sent to Butte. Most of the buildings that had been built are of frame construction with second-story false fronts which were common to the nineteenth century camps.
Throughout the years Basin's smelter has been opened and closed due to high smelting charges and low silver prices. On the edge of town stands a reminder of Basin's activity, a huge mill dating back to the 1900s. The town fluctuated in size, holding nearly 8,000 people during boom times, and as few as 220 as today.
Basin has suffered fires as well as vandalism. In 1893 the Katy mill had been expanded, successfully completing a run of ore. Fire broke out and destroyed the hoisting plant and the shaft. In 1896 the concentrator at the Hope gold mine caught fire, suffocating seven miners to death. Even today Basin doesn't have a firehouse. A saloon owner tore down his building, which was connected to the firestation. When the saloon fell, a wall of the firehouse came down too.
Today, the area is well-known for its radon mines which are now marketed for their reputed health-giving benefits. Over the past few years, Basin has attracted artists and musicians, giving this tiny town a lively, electric feel.
Basin is located in southwestern Montana, just southeast of Boulder on I-15.