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Original InhabitantsAt the time of the first appearance of Europeans in what today is Montana, there were native inhabitants living in two geographical regions. In the valleys near the Rocky and Bitterroot mountains to the west, the Bannock, Kalispel, Kootenai and Shoshone found their homelands more conducive to agriculture.Other tribes frequently spent a portion of the year in Montana, including the Cheyenne, Mandan, Nez Percé and Sioux.The Early EuropeansFrench fur traders and trappers may have ventured into present-day Montana in the 1740s, but the evidence is not conclusive. French authority in the area was weakened by defeat in the French and Indian War and they compensated Spain, their ally in that conflict, by passing title to Louisiana to them. France temporarily regained control of the region during the Napoleonic Era, but in 1803 sold it to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase.Explorers. President Thomas Jefferson`s curiosity about the newly purchased tract led to his support for an exploratory venture, fueled largely by the hope of discovering an easy water route that would lead to the Pacific Ocean. The Lewis and Clark Expedition set off in 1804 and reached the Forks of the Missouri River in present-day Montana the following July. The reports of Lewis and Clark at journey`s end were largely responsible for sparking interest in Louisiana, particularly in its abundance of fur-bearing animals.

Fur Traders. French and American traders and trappers had certainly visited the Montana area by the late 18th century, but Canadian François-Antoine Laroque left a record of his exploits along the Yellowstone River on behalf of the North West Company in 1806. The following year, Manuel Lisa, a Cuban who had relocated to St. Louis, established the first trading post, known variously as Fort Remon or Fort Lisa, on the Bighorn River. David Thompson, noted explorer and representative of the North West Company, established a post near Libby in 1807 and in other locations in later years. Although the number of white inhabitants in Montana remained small during the early decades of the 19th century, the competition among trading entities — the North West Company and its successor the Hudson`s Bay Company, the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, the American Fur Company and others — was intense and served to deplete the animal populations by the 1840s.The native populations of Montana both prospered and suffered from the fur trade with the Europeans. Indian life was improved by guns and tools received from the whites, but adversely impacted by exposure to alcohol and diseases against which they had no immunity, Smallpox in particular.Missionaries. The Flathead and Nez Percé sent representatives to the eastern United States in the 1830s for the purpose of requesting religious instruction, which touched off a wave of missionary activity. Some have viewed the Indian requests with some skepticism, speculating that the real aim was to receive the white man`s tools and medicines, not spiritual enlightenment. Several Protestant denominations sent missionaries into the West, but few found Montana to be appealing and most pressed on to the Oregon Country.In 1841 Jesuit priest Pierre Jean De Smet, a Belgian by birth, ministered to the Flathead in the Bitterroot Valley. St. Mary`s Mission, near present-day Stevensville, probably was the first permanent white settlement in Montana; it was later sold to a private individual who operated it as a trading post.Miners. A small gold strike was made at Gold Creek in 1858, but a series of more important finds was made after 1860. Gold was discovered in southwestern Montana along Grasshopper Creek in 1862 and in other locations in the following years. Boomtowns erupted at Bannack, Virginia City, Diamond City and Helena. Miners found relief from the drudgery of their work in the saloons and dance halls of the thriving towns. Once the gold had played out, the settlements were emptied of their residents as rapidly as they had filled up.Lawlessness was a frequent feature of the Montana boomtowns and mining camps. Henry Plummer led an especially notorious gang, while also serving as the local sheriff. Unable to depend on law enforcement officials, many communities resorted to vigilante justice. Some employed the cryptic numbers 3-7-77 — to indicate the width, depth and length of the graves of those outlaws brought to justice. The numbers appeared in 1879 to warn "undesirables" to leave Helena. Plummer and about two dozen of his gang were eventually captured and hanged.The Territorial StageBefore achieving statehood, Montana was included by Congress in a long list of territories — Louisiana, Missouri, Oregon, Washington, Nebraska, Dakota and Idaho.During these territorial years, settlement increased at a leisurely pace. The gold strikes of the 1860s brought many newcomers, most of whom moved on when the mines failed. However, the temporary increase in population sparked the arrival of the first railroad line, a regional organization that linked Fort Benton with Walla Walla in the Washington Territory.Many prospectors arrived in Montana by steamboat, venturing up the Missouri River during the high water months of spring and early summer. Sufficient population developed during the gold rush years that Montana was granted separate territorial status in May 1864. Sidney Edgerton, an official in the Idaho Territory, was instrumental in gaining this designation and was appointed governor. Virginia City served as the territorial capital until it was moved to Helena in 1875.Indian WarsEven before the influx of whites during the gold rush years, efforts were made to promote harmony between the races. In 1851, a treaty was concluded at Fort Laramie in present-day Wyoming. Among other provisions, recognition was given by the United States to a tribal homeland for the Crow along the Yellowstone River, the Assiniboine in northeastern Montana and the Blackfoot in the north central area.Four years later, Governor Isaac Stevens of the Washington Territory began negotiation of a series of treaties designed to obtain the best lands for white settlers and assign the natives to less desirable reservation areas. A number of tribes signed such treaties under the enticements of financial support and promises of improvements for the reservations.In the 1860s, clashes between the races became common as white miners encroached upon Indian homelands. Relations with the Sioux became particularly tense because the Bozeman Trail, which linked the Oregon Trail to the Montana gold fields, brought a steady stream of whites across Indian hunting grounds. Initial efforts to bring peace failed and ugly incidents continued to occur through the mid-1860s. However, a new government peace offensive resulted in the Fort Laramie Treaty with various Sioux bands in 1868. The Bozeman Trail was closed to white traffic and a number of the Sioux agreed to make their homes in the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory, lands that they held sacred. However, disgruntled Sioux under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse remained in Montana.Gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1874 and miners quickly poured into the area in violation of the Sioux treaty rights and demanded protection from the U.S. Army.In June 1876, the 7th Cavalry Regiment led by Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer was annihilated by Sioux and Cheyenne near the Little Big Horn River in southeastern Montana. This Indian victory was fleeting, however. Army reinforcements were dispatched to the area and Crazy Horse was forced to surrender in 1877; Sitting Bull held out for another four years before giving up his fight.The last significant clash occurred in 1877 when U.S. forces pursued Nez Percé under Chief Joseph. The Indians won a costly victory in the Battle of Big Hole near the Continental Divide in southwestern Montana, but later surrendered most of their numbers at Bear`s Paw Mountain about 40 miles south of the Canadian border.Economic Development in MontanaLivestock. Cattle had been brought into Montana from Oregon during the 1850s, but it was the demand for food from the gold miners of the following decade that created a thriving cattle industry. In 1866, Nelson Story drove a herd from Texas into Montana on the Bozeman Trail. The vast grasslands of the open range soon encouraged many other ranchers to try their luck.Railroads provided the final boost to the growing cattle industry. A regional line, the Utah and Northern, reached Montana in 1880 and the Northern Pacific, a transcontinental line, arrived three years later. Easy access to markets in other parts of the country made a number of the cattle ranchers wealthy.All was not well, however. A challenge for use of the land was made by sheep herders who were also attracted by the lush grasses. Sheep are inclined to chew plants off at root level, leaving the land unusable for long periods. Armed clashes were frequent between the cattle and sheep interests.The winter of 1886-87 created an economic disaster. Much of the land had already been overgrazed, then severe cold and storms wiped out over one-half of the cattle population and forced a change in the nature of the business. In later years, ranchers focused on maintaining smaller herds and kept them in enclosed areas. The era of the open range in Montana had ended.Mining. The gold strikes of the 1860s played out quickly. A few of the miners turned to silver, but its extraction was more difficult and expensive to accomplish. The discovery of huge silver deposits near Butte in 1875 made its mining a more lucrative proposition, at least temporarily.Silver mining interests were dismayed by the decision of the U.S. government of demonetize silver in 1873 — the so-called "Crime of `73" in the minds of many Westerners. A huge deposit of silver was discovered in Montana later, but demand dropped, pulling prices down as well.Further mining diversification was brought to Montana by Marcus Daly, one of the early silver miners. He was president of the Anaconda Company that became active in copper mining and was the chief competitor of William Clark, the other great copper king" of the era. Their rivalry dominated the economy and politics of the state for years, but Anaconda emerged as the victor and extended its control beyond mines to electric power, railroads, newspapers, banks and timberlands.StatehoodMontana`s territorial phase had been one of turmoil — livestock conflicts, Indian wars and wrangling between a Democratic electorate and governors appointed from Washington, D.C. Citizens groups tried on several occasions to press for statehood, but were not successful. A new constitution was prepared in 1889 and Montana was admitted as the 41st state by act of Congress on November 8. The new governing document had trimmed the power of the governor, a position first held by Joseph K. Toole. Helena became the state capital.Montana`s agricultural and mining economy provided a base for Populist political activity in the 1890s. Robert B. Smith was elected governor with Populist support and in later years Progressive Era reforms were enacted, including mine safety laws, the initiative and the referendum. Women had been granted the right to vote in certain elections in 1869 and full suffrage was extended to them in 1914. Two years later, Jeanette Rankin, a feminist leader from Missoula, became the first woman elected to the House of Representatives. She later cast the only vote in opposition to American entry into World War II.Development in Montana was heavily influenced by federal legislation. Congress in 1909 passed the Enlarged Homestead Act, a measure that applied to public lands in a number of Western states. Under its provisions, the size of homesteads was increased to 320 acres, but homesteaders were obligated to cultivate 80 acres; forest and mining areas were excluded from this program. The law`s implementation resulted in an increase in farming and cattle operations in Montana.The Era of the World WarsMontana enjoyed initial prosperity during World War I, which brought a strong demand for wheat and other grains. However, a devastating drought in 1919 caused a sharp downturn in the state`s fortunes. Insect plagues and severe wind erosion extended the hard times into the 1920s. The resumption of farming operations in Europe caused a worldwide glut and plummeting prices for U.S. farmers. By the time of the stock market crash in 1929, Montana was already in a deep depression. Mining was also hard hit at this time because of competition from foreign sources; many mines and factories in Montana closed their doors.The state benefited from a number of The New Deal programs of the 1930s. The Fort Peck Dam was started in 1933, provided employment for 10,000 workers and eventually contributed to electric power generation and flood control on the Missouri River. Other programs brought the construction of new highways, the development of parks and recreation areas, and the spread of electricity into rural areas.The federal government also made a major revision in its Indian policy during the 1930s. The Wheeler-Howard Act, also known as the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, reversed the earlier practice of encouraging Native Americans to own land individually and decreasing the influence of the tribes. Under the new law, tribes were urged to write constitutions, institute tribal councils and engage in common business ventures.The demands of waging World War II brought a large measure of prosperity back to Montana, which supplied oil, lumber, meat and grains. Farmers did not enjoy good fortune for long after the war; prices dropped quickly, prompting an exodus from the farms to the cities.Postwar DevelopmentDuring the 1950s, the emerging aluminum industry brought growth to the state as did the discovery of oil in the eastern plains area. Power and irrigation were enhanced by the construction of the Yellowtail Dam (1961) on the Bighorn River and later the Libby Dam on the Kootenai River.Tourism has played an increasingly important part in Montana`s economy. Building on the base provided by Yellowstone National Park (1872) and Glacier National Park (1910), the state and private ventures have developed year-round attractions — parks, dude ranches and resorts.Coal mining and natural gas operations prospered during the energy crisis of the 1970s, but declining prices in the following decade ended the boom. In 1990, Montana lost one of its two seats in the House of Representatives, an event that many residents accepted as preferable to large increases in population.Prominent political figures of recent times include the following:

  • Mike Mansfield (1903-2001) was born in New York City, but moved as a child with his family to Montana. He enlisted as a seaman with the Navy at age 14 in World War I and later served in the army. After the war, he worked as a mining engineer, continued his education and eventually became a political science professor at Montana State University. He represented Montana in the House of Representatives from 1943 to 1953, then in the Senate until his retirement in 1977. Mansfield served as the Senate Democratic whip and later as majority leader. From 1977 to 1988, he was the U.S. ambassador to Japan.
  • Marc Racicot (born 1948) is a Montana native and a graduate of Carroll College in Helena and the Montana Law School. He served in the armed forces for three years and became a county prosecutor. His early efforts at elective office were not successful, but in 1988 Racicot was victorious in a race for state attorney general. He was elected governor in 1992 and reelected four years later, and established a record for reducing the size of government and creating a budget surplus. In 2000, Racicot was named chairman of the Republican National Committee.

See also Montana.


The first people came to the area that’s now Montana at least 12,600 years ago. Thousands of years later Native American tribes, including Crow, Cheyenne, Blackfeet, and Kalispel lived on the land.

This land remained largely unexplored by outsiders until Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, accompanied by Native American guide Sacagawea, passed through the region in 1805 on their famous expedition through the American West. More than 50 years later, settlers found gold, and people quickly came to Montana in search of their own fortune. With its newly expanding population and mining value, the land was made a U.S. territory in 1864. In 1889 it became a state.

But the Native American tribes living on the land felt that the settlers were encroaching on their way of life. In 1876 the Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes banded together to take back their land, defeating the U.S. Army at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. Despite this victory, the Native Americans were ultimately defeated, and settlers continued to build on the land.

However many Native American tribes still live in Montana, including the Blackfeet, Crow, and Cheyenne.


Montana’s name comes from the Spanish word montaña, roughly meaning “mountainous.” That’s because the state has so many mountains—at least 300 peaks over 9,600 feet tall!

Gold and silver deposits were mined from the Montana mountains as early as the 1800s, earning the state its nickname, the Treasure State.

Distribution of Montana Mining Towns

The majority of Montana's historic mining towns are in the southwest part of the state. While a great number of these towns could be described as typical frontier gold towns, there are some notable exceptions.

Montana's gold rush started in 1863 at Bannack. By 1864 the town became Montana's first territorial capital. By 1865 many of the miners, and the territorial seat, moved on to the new strike at Virginia City.

Bannack, Montana - Bank Exchange Saloon

Helena was settled after gold discoveries in 1864 and would later become the state capitol. By the late 1880's, Helena had more millionaires per capita than anywhere in the world. Mining barons built fabulous mansions in what is now known as the Mansion District. Helena is one of the finest examples of victorian architecture and gilded age construction in the west.

Helena Montana ca. 1890

Despite the riches at Helena, Montana's mining legacy was built on the great copper mines of Butte. Butte became the greatest mining camp in the world and grew to a frontier metropolis of over 100,000 inhabitants. Today many of the mining-era buildings, homes, and mansions remain in what is undoubtedly the most historically significant location in the mining west.

History of Montana

The history of Montana is as interesting as the history of any other state, especially if you enjoy adventurous tales about some of the most famous explorers who ever lived. Lewis and Clark are just two of the major players who have contributed to Montana history. Native American cultures inhabited the state before and after the adventurers' arrival, and they left their mark on its history as well. In addition to reading up on Lewis and Clark and considering the impact of the area's Native American tribes, you can also investigate the state's past mining days, which will help you get a more complete idea of what Montana history is all about. Historical sites can be found all over Montana, and there are some fascinating monuments and landmarks here that any and all tourists should consider adding to their itineraries. To help you gain insight into historical facts on Montana, you can always visit the Montana Historical Society in Helena. This museum offers exhibits that center around the history of Montana and on the general region.

Montana didn't become a state until 1889. Before that, it was a fairly wild and open outpost where Native American tribes, gold and copper hunters, and fur traders largely made up the population. Native American tribes like the Crow, the Blackfeet, the Cheyenne, and the Kalispell were the first to inhabit what is present-day Montana, and they enjoyed free reign of the area until white settlers started moving west. Not much was known about the Montana region when everything east of the Continental Divide was included in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. The fact that most of the state was included in the Louisiana Purchase is one of the more interesting facts about Montana. To gain more knowledge on Montana and the growing northwest territory, President Thomas Jefferson enlisted two men to lead a brigade of U.S. Army recruits into the region. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark embarked on their historical Corps of Discovery expedition in 1804, which they completed in 1806.

The Montana Lewis and Clark Trail follows the route that the Corps of Discovery took through the state. Lewis and Clark passed through Montana twice, and they were the first white explorers to cross the state. If you've ever read any of their journal entries from the expedition, you know just how intense the experience was. You can learn about Lewis and Clark-related facts on Montana by visiting Pompey's Pillar and other historical monuments along the Lewis and Clark Trail. Found just east of Billings, Pompey's Pillar is a rock outcropping that bears an 1806 signature that William Clark left behind. Native American drawings and paintings also adorn the rock in places, adding to its historical importance. You can also learn more about Lewis and Clark by visiting the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls. As for gaining insight into Native American history and culture, many Montana museums offer informative exhibits that do well to cover the Native American plight. You can also consider visiting one of Montana's Indian reservations during your trip.

Montana Map

After Lewis and Clark passed through Montana, fur traders and trappers came to the region. This negatively affected the Native American tribes, as the trappers brought disease to the region, not to mention a new economic system and alcohol. By 1840, the fur trading industry had all but fizzled out, as the beaver population and the demand for beaver hats declined considerably. Marcus Daly, William Andrews Clark, and F. Augustus Heinze, who are known as the Copper Kings, moved into Montana after gold and copper were found in the 1850s. They would take Montana history in a completely different direction. By the 1870s, cities like Butte were among the most prosperous cities in the world. Butte, as such, is a great place to get some detailed facts on Montana mining and how it impacted the state's development. In addition to taking in some fascinating mining exhibits in Butte, you can also consider visiting the Copper King House. Built between the years of 1884 and 1888, this large Victorian home served as the local residence for Copper King William Andrews Clark. Today, the Copper King House is part bed and breakfast and part museum.


The name Montana comes from the Spanish word montaña, which in turn comes from the Latin word montanea, meaning "mountain" or more broadly "mountainous country". [9] [10] Montaña del Norte was the name given by early Spanish explorers to the entire mountainous region of the west. [10] The name Montana was added in 1863 to a bill by the United States House Committee on Territories (chaired at the time by James Ashley of Ohio) for the territory that would become Idaho Territory. [11]

The name was changed by representatives Henry Wilson (Massachusetts) and Benjamin F. Harding (Oregon), who complained Montana had "no meaning". [11] When Ashley presented a bill to establish a temporary government in 1864 for a new territory to be carved out of Idaho, he again chose Montana Territory. [12] This time, Rep. Samuel Cox, also of Ohio, objected to the name. [12] Cox complained the name was a misnomer given most of the territory was not mountainous and a Native American name would be more appropriate than a Spanish one. [12] Other names such as Shoshone were suggested, but the Committee on Territories decided that they had discretion to choose the name, so the original name of Montana was adopted. [12]

Various indigenous peoples lived in the territory of the present-day state of Montana for thousands of years. Historic tribes encountered by Europeans and settlers from the United States included the Crow in the south-central area, the Cheyenne in the southeast, the Blackfeet, Assiniboine, and Gros Ventres in the central and north-central area, and the Kootenai and Salish in the west. The smaller Pend d'Oreille and Kalispel tribes lived near Flathead Lake and the western mountains, respectively. A part of southeastern Montana was used as a corridor between the Crows and the related Hidatsas in North Dakota. [13]

As part of the Missouri River watershed, all of the land in Montana east of the Continental Divide was part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Subsequent to and particularly in the decades following the Lewis and Clark Expedition, European, Canadian and American traders operated a fur trade, trading with indigenous peoples, in both eastern and western portions of what would become Montana. Though the increased interaction between fur traders and indigenous peoples frequently proved to be a profitable partnership, conflicts broke out when indigenous interests where threatened, such as the conflict between American trappers and the Blackfeet. Indigenous peoples in the region were also decimated by diseases introduced by fur traders to which they had no immunity. [14] [15] The trading post Fort Raymond (1807–1811) was constructed in Crow Indian country in 1807. [16] Until the Oregon Treaty of 1846, land west of the continental divide was disputed between the British and U.S. governments and was known as the Oregon Country. The first permanent settlement by Euro-Americans in what today is Montana was St. Mary's, established in 1841 near present-day Stevensville. [17] In 1847, Fort Benton was built as the uppermost fur-trading post on the Missouri River. [18] In the 1850s, settlers began moving into the Beaverhead and Big Hole valleys from the Oregon Trail and into the Clark's Fork valley. [19]

The first gold discovered in Montana was at Gold Creek near present-day Garrison in 1852. Gold rushes to the region commenced in earnest starting in 1862. A series of major mineral discoveries in the western part of the state found gold, silver, copper, lead, and coal (and later oil) which attracted tens of thousands of miners to the area. The richest of all gold placer diggings was discovered at Alder Gulch, where the town of Virginia City was established. Other rich placer deposits were found at Last Chance Gulch, where the city of Helena now stands, Confederate Gulch, Silver Bow, Emigrant Gulch, and Cooke City. Gold output between 1862 and 1876 reached $144 million, after which silver became even more important. The largest mining operations were at Butte, with important silver deposits and expansive copper deposits.

Montana territory Edit

Before the creation of Montana Territory (1864–1889), areas within present-day Montana were part of the Oregon Territory (1848–1859), Washington Territory (1853–1863), Idaho Territory (1863–1864), and Dakota Territory (1861–1864). Montana Territory became a United States territory (Montana Territory) on May 26, 1864. The first territorial capital was located at Bannack. Sidney Edgerton served as the first territorial governor. The capital moved to Virginia City in 1865 and to Helena in 1875. In 1870, the non-Indian population of the Montana Territory was 20,595. [21] The Montana Historical Society, founded on February 2, 1865, in Virginia City, is the oldest such institution west of the Mississippi (excluding Louisiana). [22] In 1869 and 1870 respectively, the Cook–Folsom–Peterson and the Washburn–Langford–Doane Expeditions were launched from Helena into the Upper Yellowstone region. The extraordinary discoveries and reports from these expeditions led to the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872.

Conflicts Edit

As settlers began populating Montana from the 1850s through the 1870s, disputes with Native Americans ensued, primarily over land ownership and control. In 1855, Washington Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens negotiated the Hellgate treaty between the United States government and the Salish, Pend d'Oreille, and Kootenai people of western Montana, which established boundaries for the tribal nations. The treaty was ratified in 1859. [23] While the treaty established what later became the Flathead Indian Reservation, trouble with interpreters and confusion over the terms of the treaty led Whites to believe the Bitterroot Valley was opened to settlement, but the tribal nations disputed those provisions. [24] The Salish remained in the Bitterroot Valley until 1891. [25]

The first U.S. Army post established in Montana was Camp Cooke in 1866, on the Missouri River, to protect steamboat traffic to Fort Benton. More than a dozen additional military outposts were established in the state. Pressure over land ownership and control increased due to discoveries of gold in various parts of Montana and surrounding states. Major battles occurred in Montana during Red Cloud's War, the Great Sioux War of 1876, and the Nez Perce War and in conflicts with Piegan Blackfeet. The most notable were the Marias Massacre (1870), Battle of the Little Bighorn (1876), Battle of the Big Hole (1877), and Battle of Bear Paw (1877). The last recorded conflict in Montana between the U.S. Army and Native Americans occurred in 1887 during the Battle of Crow Agency in the Big Horn country. Indian survivors who had signed treaties were generally required to move onto reservations. [26]

Simultaneously with these conflicts, bison, a keystone species and the primary protein source that Native people had survived on for many centuries, were being destroyed. Experts estimate than around 13 million bison roamed Montana in 1870. [27] In 1875, General Philip Sheridan pleaded to a joint session of Congress to authorize the slaughtering of bison herds to deprive the Indians of their source of food. [28] By 1884, commercial hunting had brought bison to the verge of extinction only about 325 bison remained in the entire United States. [29]

Cattle ranching Edit

Cattle ranching has been central to Montana's history and economy since Johnny Grant began wintering cattle in the Deer Lodge Valley in the 1850s and traded cattle fattened in fertile Montana valleys with emigrants on the Oregon Trail. [30] Nelson Story brought the first Texas Longhorn cattle into the territory in 1866. [31] [32] Granville Stuart, Samuel Hauser, and Andrew J. Davis started a major open-range cattle operation in Fergus County in 1879. [33] [34] The Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Deer Lodge is maintained today as a link to the ranching style of the late 19th century. Operated by the National Park Service, it is a 1,900-acre (7.7 km 2 ) working ranch. [35]

Railroads Edit

Tracks of the Northern Pacific Railroad (NPR) reached Montana from the west in 1881 and from the east in 1882. However, the railroad played a major role in sparking tensions with Native American tribes in the 1870s. Jay Cooke, the NPR president, launched major surveys into the Yellowstone valley in 1871, 1872, and 1873, which were challenged forcefully by the Sioux under chief Sitting Bull. These clashes, in part, contributed to the Panic of 1873, a financial crisis that delayed the construction of the railroad into Montana. [36] Surveys in 1874, 1875, and 1876 helped spark the Great Sioux War of 1876. The transcontinental NPR was completed on September 8, 1883, at Gold Creek.

In 1881, the Utah and Northern Railway, a branch line of the Union Pacific, completed a narrow-gauge line from northern Utah to Butte. [37] A number of smaller spur lines operated in Montana from 1881 into the 20th century, including the Oregon Short Line, Montana Railroad, and Milwaukee Road.

Tracks of the Great Northern Railroad (GNR) reached eastern Montana in 1887 and when they reached the northern Rocky Mountains in 1890, the GNR became a significant promoter of tourism to Glacier National Park region. The transcontinental GNR was completed on January 6, 1893, at Scenic, Washington <and is known as the Hi Line, being the northern most transcontinental rail line in the United States.

Statehood Edit

WASHINGTON, D.C. Nov. 7, 1889
To Hon. Joseph K. Toole, Governor of the State of Montana:
The president signed and issued the proclamation declaring Montana a state of the union at 10:40 o'clock this morning.

Secretary of State [38]

Under Territorial Governor Thomas Meagher, Montanans held a constitutional convention in 1866 in a failed bid for statehood. A second constitutional convention held in Helena in 1884 produced a constitution ratified 3:1 by Montana citizens in November 1884. For political reasons, Congress did not approve Montana statehood until February 1889 and President Grover Cleveland signed an omnibus bill granting statehood to Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Washington once the appropriate state constitutions were crafted. In July 1889, Montanans convened their third constitutional convention and produced a constitution accepted by the people and the federal government. On November 8, 1889, President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed Montana the union's 41st state. The first state governor was Joseph K. Toole. [40] In the 1880s, Helena (the state capital) had more millionaires per capita than any other United States city. [41]

Homesteading Edit

The Homestead Act of 1862 provided free land to settlers who could claim and "prove-up" 160 acres (0.65 km 2 ) of federal land in the Midwest and western United States. Montana did not see a large influx of immigrants from this act because 160 acres were usually insufficient to support a family in the arid territory. [42] The first homestead claim under the act in Montana was made by David Carpenter near Helena in 1868. The first claim by a woman was made near Warm Springs Creek by Gwenllian Evans, the daughter of Deer Lodge Montana pioneer, Morgan Evans. [43] By 1880, farms were in the more verdant valleys of central and western Montana, but few were on the eastern plains. [42]

The Desert Land Act of 1877 was passed to allow settlement of arid lands in the west and allotted 640 acres (2.6 km 2 ) to settlers for a fee of $.25 per acre and a promise to irrigate the land. After three years, a fee of one dollar per acre would be paid and the settler would own the land. This act brought mostly cattle and sheep ranchers into Montana, many of whom grazed their herds on the Montana prairie for three years, did little to irrigate the land and then abandoned it without paying the final fees. [43] Some farmers came with the arrival of the Great Northern and Northern Pacific Railroads throughout the 1880s and 1890s, though in relatively small numbers. [44]

In the early 1900s, James J. Hill of the Great Northern began to promote settlement in the Montana prairie to fill his trains with settlers and goods. Other railroads followed suit. [45] In 1902, the Reclamation Act was passed, allowing irrigation projects to be built in Montana's eastern river valleys. In 1909, Congress passed the Enlarged Homestead Act that expanded the amount of free land from 160 to 320 acres (0.6 to 1.3 km 2 ) per family and in 1912 reduced the time to "prove up" on a claim to three years. [46] In 1916, the Stock-Raising Homestead Act allowed homesteads of 640 acres in areas unsuitable for irrigation. [47] This combination of advertising and changes in the Homestead Act drew tens of thousands of homesteaders, lured by free land, with World War I bringing particularly high wheat prices. In addition, Montana was going through a temporary period of higher-than-average precipitation. [48] Homesteaders arriving in this period were known as "Honyockers", or "scissorbills". [44] Though the word "honyocker", possibly derived from the ethnic slur "hunyak", [49] was applied in a derisive manner at homesteaders as being "greenhorns", "new at his business", or "unprepared", [50] most of these new settlers had farming experience, though many did not. [51]

Honyocker, scissorbill, nester . He was the Joad of a [half] century ago, swarming into a hostile land: duped when he started, robbed when he arrived hopeful, courageous, ambitious: he sought independence or adventure, comfort and security . The honyocker was farmer, spinster, deep-sea diver fiddler, physician, bartender, cook. He lived in Minnesota or Wisconsin, Massachusetts or Maine. There the news sought him out—Jim Hill's news of free land in the Treasure State .

However, farmers faced a number of problems. Massive debt was one. [52] Also, most settlers were from wetter regions, unprepared for the dry climate, lack of trees, and scarce water resources. [53] In addition, small homesteads of fewer than 320 acres (130 ha) were unsuited to the environment. Weather and agricultural conditions are much harsher and drier west of the 100th meridian. [54] Then, the droughts of 1917–1921 proved devastating. Many people left, and half the banks in the state went bankrupt as a result of providing mortgages that could not be repaid. [55] As a result, farm sizes increased while the number of farms decreased. [54]

By 1910, homesteaders filed claims on over five million acres, and by 1923, over 93 million acres were farmed. [56] In 1910, the Great Falls land office alone had more than a thousand homestead filings per month, [57] and at the peak of 1917–1918 it had 14,000 new homesteads each year. [52] Significant drops occurred following the drought in 1919. [54]

Montana and World War I Edit

As World War I broke out, Jeannette Rankin, the first woman in the United States to be a member of Congress, voted against the United States' declaration of war. Her actions were widely criticized in Montana, where support for the war and patriotism was strong. [58] In 1917–18, due to a miscalculation of Montana's population, about 40,000 Montanans, 10% of the state's population, [58] volunteered or were drafted into the armed forces. This represented a manpower contribution to the war that was 25% higher than any other state on a per capita basis. Around 1500 Montanans died as a result of the war and 2437 were wounded, also higher than any other state on a per capita basis. [59] Montana's Remount station in Miles City provided 10,000 cavalry horses for the war, more than any other Army post in the country. The war created a boom for Montana mining, lumber, and farming interests, as demand for war materials and food increased. [58]

In June 1917, the U.S. Congress passed the Espionage Act of 1917, which was extended by the Sedition Act of 1918. [60] In February 1918, the Montana legislature had passed the Montana Sedition Act, which was a model for the federal version. [61] In combination, these laws criminalized criticism of the U.S. government, military, or symbols through speech or other means. The Montana Act led to the arrest of more than 200 individuals and the conviction of 78, mostly of German or Austrian descent. More than 40 spent time in prison. In May 2006, then-Governor Brian Schweitzer posthumously issued full pardons for all those convicted of violating the Montana Sedition Act. [62]

The Montanans who opposed U.S. entry into the war included immigrant groups of German and Irish heritage, as well as pacifist Anabaptist people such as the Hutterites and Mennonites, many of whom were also of Germanic heritage. In turn, pro-War groups formed, such as the Montana Council of Defense, created by Governor Samuel V. Stewart and local "loyalty committees". [58]

War sentiment was complicated by labor issues. The Anaconda Copper Company, which was at its historic peak of copper production, [63] was an extremely powerful force in Montana, but it also faced criticism and opposition from socialist newspapers and unions struggling to make gains for their members. [64] In Butte, a multiethnic community with a significant European immigrant population, labor unions, particularly the newly formed Metal Mine Workers' Union, opposed the war on grounds it mostly profited large lumber and mining interests. [58] In the wake of ramped-up mine production and the Speculator Mine disaster in June 1917, [58] Industrial Workers of the World organizer Frank Little arrived in Butte to organize miners. He gave some speeches with inflammatory antiwar rhetoric. On August 1, 1917, he was dragged from his boarding house by masked vigilantes, and hanged from a railroad trestle, considered a lynching. [65] Little's murder and the strikes that followed resulted in the National Guard being sent to Butte to restore order. [58] Overall, anti-German and antilabor sentiment increased and created a movement that led to the passage of the Montana Sedition Act the following February. [66] In addition, the Council of Defense was made a state agency with the power to prosecute and punish individuals deemed in violation of the Act. The council also passed rules limiting public gatherings and prohibiting the speaking of German in public. [58]

In the wake of the legislative action in 1918, emotions rose. U.S. Attorney Burton K. Wheeler and several district court judges who hesitated to prosecute or convict people brought up on charges were strongly criticized. Wheeler was brought before the Council of Defense, though he avoided formal proceedings, and a district court judge from Forsyth was impeached. Burnings of German-language books and several near-hangings occurred. The prohibition on speaking German remained in effect into the early 1920s. Complicating the wartime struggles, the 1918 influenza epidemic claimed the lives of more than 5,000 Montanans. [58] The suppression of civil liberties that occurred led some historians to dub this period "Montana's Agony". [64]

Depression era Edit

An economic depression began in Montana after World War I and lasted through the Great Depression until the beginning of World War II. This caused great hardship for farmers, ranchers, and miners. The wheat farms in eastern Montana make the state a major producer the wheat has a relatively high protein content, thus commands premium prices. [67] [68]

Montana and World War II Edit

By the time the U.S. entered World War II on December 8, 1941, many Montanans had enlisted in the military to escape the poor national economy of the previous decade. Another 40,000-plus Montanans entered the armed forces in the first year following the declaration of war, and more than 57,000 joined up before the war ended. These numbers constituted about ten percent of the state's population, and Montana again contributed one of the highest numbers of soldiers per capita of any state. Many Native Americans were among those who served, including soldiers from the Crow Nation who became Code Talkers. At least 1,500 Montanans died in the war. [69] Montana also was the training ground for the First Special Service Force or "Devil's Brigade", a joint U.S-Canadian commando-style force that trained at Fort William Henry Harrison for experience in mountainous and winter conditions before deployment. [69] [70] Air bases were built in Great Falls, Lewistown, Cut Bank, and Glasgow, some of which were used as staging areas to prepare planes to be sent to allied forces in the Soviet Union. During the war, about 30 Japanese Fu-Go balloon bombs were documented to have landed in Montana, though no casualties nor major forest fires were attributed to them. [69]

In 1940, Jeannette Rankin was again elected to Congress. In 1941, as she had in 1917, she voted against the United States' declaration of war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Hers was the only vote against the war, and in the wake of public outcry over her vote, Rankin required police protection for a time. Other pacifists tended to be those from "peace churches" who generally opposed war. Many individuals claiming conscientious objector status from throughout the U.S. were sent to Montana during the war as smokejumpers and for other forest fire-fighting duties. [69]

In 1942, the US Army established Camp Rimini near Helena for the purpose of training sled dogs in winter weather.

Other military Edit

During World War II, the planned battleship USS Montana was named in honor of the state but it was never completed. Montana is the only one of the first 48 states lacking a completed battleship being named for it. Alaska and Hawaii have both had nuclear submarines named after them. Montana is the only state in the union without a modern naval ship named in its honor. However, in August 2007, Senator Jon Tester asked that a submarine be christened USS Montana. [71] Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced on September 3, 2015, that Virginia Class attack submarine SSN-794 will become the second commissioned warship to bear the name. [72]

Cold War Montana Edit

In the post-World War II Cold War era, Montana became host to U.S. Air Force Military Air Transport Service (1947) for airlift training in C-54 Skymasters and eventually, in 1953 Strategic Air Command air and missile forces were based at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls. The base also hosted the 29th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Air Defense Command from 1953 to 1968. In December 1959, Malmstrom AFB was selected as the home of the new Minuteman I intercontinental ballistic missile. The first operational missiles were in place and ready in early 1962. In late 1962, missiles assigned to the 341st Strategic Missile Wing played a major role in the Cuban Missile Crisis. When the Soviets removed their missiles from Cuba, President John F. Kennedy said the Soviets backed down because they knew he had an "ace in the hole", referring directly to the Minuteman missiles in Montana. Montana eventually became home to the largest ICBM field in the U.S. covering 23,500 square miles (61,000 km 2 ). [73]

Montana is one of the eight Mountain States, located in the north of the region known as the Western United States. It borders North Dakota and South Dakota to the east. Wyoming is to the south, Idaho is to the west and southwest, [ citation needed ] and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, are to the north, making it the only state to border three Canadian provinces.

With an area of 147,040 square miles (380,800 km 2 ), [1] Montana is slightly larger than Japan. It is the fourth-largest state in the United States after Alaska, Texas, and California [74] it is the largest landlocked state. [75]

Topography Edit

The state's topography is roughly defined by the Continental Divide, which splits much of the state into distinct eastern and western regions. [76] Most of Montana's hundred or more named mountain ranges are in the state's western half, most of which is geologically and geographically part of the northern Rocky Mountains. [76] [77] The Absaroka and Beartooth ranges in the state's south-central part are technically part of the Central Rocky Mountains. [78] The Rocky Mountain Front is a significant feature in the state's north-central portion, [79] and isolated island ranges that interrupt the prairie landscape common in the central and eastern parts of the state. [80] About 60 percent of the state is prairie, part of the northern Great Plains. [81]

The Bitterroot Mountains—one of the longest continuous ranges in the Rocky Mountain chain from Alaska to Mexico [82] —along with smaller ranges, including the Coeur d'Alene Mountains and the Cabinet Mountains, divide the state from Idaho. The southern third of the Bitterroot range blends into the Continental Divide. [83] Other major mountain ranges west of the divide include the Cabinet Mountains, the Anaconda Range, the Missions, the Garnet Range, the Sapphire Mountains, and the Flint Creek Range. [84]

The divide's northern section, where the mountains rapidly give way to prairie, is part of the Rocky Mountain Front. [85] The front is most pronounced in the Lewis Range, located primarily in Glacier National Park. [86] Due to the configuration of mountain ranges in Glacier National Park, the Northern Divide (which begins in Alaska's Seward Peninsula) [87] crosses this region and turns east in Montana at Triple Divide Peak. [88] It causes the Waterton River, Belly, and Saint Mary rivers to flow north into Alberta, Canada. [89] There they join the Saskatchewan River, which ultimately empties into Hudson Bay. [90]

East of the divide, several roughly parallel ranges cover the state's southern part, including the Gravelly Range, Madison Range, Gallatin Range, Absaroka Mountains, and Beartooth Mountains. [91] The Beartooth Plateau is the largest continuous land mass over 10,000 feet (3,000 m) high in the continental United States. [92] It contains the state's highest point, Granite Peak, 12,799 feet (3,901 m) high. [92] North of these ranges are the Big Belt Mountains, Bridger Mountains, Tobacco Roots, and several island ranges, including the Crazy Mountains and Little Belt Mountains. [93]

Between many mountain ranges are several rich river valleys. The Big Hole Valley, [94] Bitterroot Valley, [95] Gallatin Valley, [96] Flathead Valley, [97] [98] and Paradise Valley [99] have extensive agricultural resources and multiple opportunities for tourism and recreation.

East and north of this transition zone are the expansive and sparsely populated Northern Plains, with tableland prairies, smaller island mountain ranges, and badlands. [100] The isolated island ranges east of the Divide include the Bear Paw Mountains, [101] Bull Mountains, [102] Castle Mountains, [103] Crazy Mountains, [104] Highwood Mountains, [105] Judith Mountains, [105] Little Belt Mountains, [103] Little Rocky Mountains, [105] the Pryor Mountains, [104] Little Snowy Mountains, Big Snowy Mountains, [102] Sweet Grass Hills, [102] and—in the state's southeastern corner near Ekalaka—the Long Pines. [77] Many of these isolated eastern ranges were created about 120 to 66 million years ago when magma welling up from the interior cracked and bowed the earth's surface here. [106]

The area east of the divide in the state's north-central portion is known for the Missouri Breaks and other significant rock formations. [107] Three buttes south of Great Falls are major landmarks: Cascade, Crown, Square, Shaw, and Buttes. [108] Known as laccoliths, they formed when igneous rock protruded through cracks in the sedimentary rock. [108] The underlying surface consists of sandstone and shale. [109] Surface soils in the area are highly diverse, and greatly affected by the local geology, whether glaciated plain, intermountain basin, mountain foothills, or tableland. [110] Foothill regions are often covered in weathered stone or broken slate, or consist of uncovered bare rock (usually igneous, quartzite, sandstone, or shale). [111] The soil of intermountain basins usually consists of clay, gravel, sand, silt, and volcanic ash, much of it laid down by lakes which covered the region during the Oligocene 33 to 23 million years ago. [112] Tablelands are often topped with argillite gravel and weathered quartzite, occasionally underlain by shale. [113] The glaciated plains are generally covered in clay, gravel, sand, and silt left by the proglacial Lake Great Falls or by moraines or gravel-covered former lake basins left by the Wisconsin glaciation 85,000 to 11,000 years ago. [114] Farther east, areas such as Makoshika State Park near Glendive and Medicine Rocks State Park near Ekalaka contain some of the most scenic badlands regions in the state. [115]

The Hell Creek Formation in Northeast Montana is a major source of dinosaur fossils. [116] Paleontologist Jack Horner of the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman brought this formation to the world's attention with several major finds. [117]

Rivers, lakes and reservoirs Edit

Montana has thousands of named rivers and creeks, [118] 450 miles (720 km) of which are known for "blue-ribbon" trout fishing. [119] [120] Montana's water resources provide for recreation, hydropower, crop and forage irrigation, mining, and water for human consumption.

Montana is one of few geographic areas in the world whose rivers form parts of three major watersheds (i.e. where two continental divides intersect). Its rivers feed the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and Hudson Bay. The watersheds divide at Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park. [121] If Hudson Bay is considered part of the Arctic Ocean, Triple Divide Peak is the only place on Earth with drainage to three different oceans.

Pacific Ocean drainage basin Edit

All waters in Montana west of the divide flow into the Columbia River. The Clark Fork of the Columbia (not to be confused with the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River) rises near Butte [122] and flows northwest to Missoula, where it is joined by the Blackfoot River and Bitterroot River. [123] Farther downstream, it is joined by the Flathead River before entering Idaho near Lake Pend Oreille. [89] [124] The Pend Oreille River forms the outflow of Lake Pend Oreille. The Pend Oreille River joined the Columbia River, which flows to the Pacific Ocean—making the 579-mile (932 km) long Clark Fork/Pend Oreille (considered a single river system) the longest river in the Rocky Mountains. [125] The Clark Fork discharges the greatest volume of water of any river exiting the state. [126] The Kootenai River in northwest Montana is another major tributary of the Columbia. [127]

Gulf of Mexico drainage basin Edit

East of the divide the Missouri River, which is formed by the confluence of the Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin Rivers near Three Forks, [128] flows due north through the west-central part of the state to Great Falls. [129] From this point, it then flows generally east through fairly flat agricultural land and the Missouri Breaks to Fort Peck reservoir. [130] The stretch of river between Fort Benton and the Fred Robinson Bridge at the western boundary of Fort Peck Reservoir was designated a National Wild and Scenic River in 1976. [130] The Missouri enters North Dakota near Fort Union, [131] having drained more than half the land area of Montana (82,000 square miles (210,000 km 2 )). [129] Nearly one-third of the Missouri River in Montana lies behind 10 dams: Toston, Canyon Ferry, Hauser, Holter, Black Eagle, Rainbow, Cochrane, Ryan, Morony, and Fort Peck. [132] Other major Montana tributaries of the Missouri include the Smith, [133] Milk, [134] Marias, [135] Judith, [136] and Musselshell Rivers. [137] Montana also claims the disputed title of possessing the world's shortest river, the Roe River, just outside Great Falls. [138] Through the Missouri, these rivers ultimately join the Mississippi River and flow into the Gulf of Mexico. [139]

Hell Roaring Creek begins in southern Montana, and when combined with the Red Rock, Beaverhead, Jefferson, Missouri, and Mississippi River, is the longest river in North America and the fourth longest river in the world.

The Yellowstone River rises on the Continental Divide near Younts Peak in Wyoming's Teton Wilderness. [140] It flows north through Yellowstone National Park, enters Montana near Gardiner, and passes through the Paradise Valley to Livingston. [141] It then flows northeasterly [141] across the state through Billings, Miles City, Glendive, and Sidney. [142] The Yellowstone joins the Missouri in North Dakota just east of Fort Union. [143] It is the longest undammed, free-flowing river in the contiguous United States, [144] [145] and drains about a quarter of Montana (36,000 square miles (93,000 km 2 )). [129] Major tributaries of the Yellowstone include the Boulder, [146] Stillwater, [147] Clarks Fork, [148] Bighorn, [149] Tongue, [150] and Powder Rivers. [151]

Hudson Bay drainage basin Edit

The Northern Divide turns east in Montana at Triple Divide Peak, causing the Waterton, Belly, and Saint Mary Rivers to flow north into Alberta. There they join the Saskatchewan River, which ultimately empties into Hudson Bay. [90]

Lakes and reservoirs Edit

Montana has some 3,000 named lakes and reservoirs, including Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in the western United States. Other major lakes include Whitefish Lake in the Flathead Valley and Lake McDonald and St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park. The largest reservoir in the state is Fort Peck Reservoir on the Missouri river, which is contained by the second largest earthen dam and largest hydraulically filled dam in the world. [152] Other major reservoirs include Hungry Horse on the Flathead River Lake Koocanusa on the Kootenai River Lake Elwell on the Marias River Clark Canyon on the Beaverhead River Yellowtail on the Bighorn River, Canyon Ferry, Hauser, Holter, Rainbow and Black Eagle on the Missouri River.

Flora and fauna Edit

Vegetation of the state includes lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, larch, spruce, aspen, birch, red cedar, hemlock, ash, alder, rocky mountain maple and cottonwood trees. Forests cover about 25% of the state. Flowers native to Montana include asters, bitterroots, daisies, lupins, poppies, primroses, columbine, lilies, orchids, and dryads. Several species of sagebrush and cactus and many species of grasses are common. Many species of mushrooms and lichens [153] are also found in the state.

Montana is home to diverse fauna including 14 amphibian, [154] 90 fish, [155] 117 mammal, [156] 20 reptile, [157] and 427 bird [158] species. Additionally, more than 10,000 invertebrate species are present, including 180 mollusks and 30 crustaceans. Montana has the largest grizzly bear population in the lower 48 states. [159] Montana hosts five federally endangered species–black-footed ferret, whooping crane, least tern, pallid sturgeon, and white sturgeon and seven threatened species including the grizzly bear, Canadian lynx, and bull trout. [160] [a] Since re-introduction the gray wolf population has stabilized at about 900 animals, and they have been delisted as endangered. [161] The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks manages fishing and hunting seasons for at least 17 species of game fish, including seven species of trout, walleye, and smallmouth bass [162] and at least 29 species of game birds and animals including ring-neck pheasant, grey partridge, elk, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, whitetail deer, gray wolf, and bighorn sheep. [163]

Protected lands Edit

Montana contains Glacier National Park, "The Crown of the Continent" and parts of Yellowstone National Park, including three of the park's five entrances. Other federally recognized sites include the Little Bighorn National Monument, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, and Big Hole National Battlefield. The Bison Range is managed by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the American Prairie Reserve is owned and operated by a non-profit organization.

Federal and state agencies administer approximately 31,300,000 acres (127,000 km 2 ), or 35 percent of Montana's land. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service administers 16,800,000 acres (68,000 km 2 ) of forest land in ten National Forests. There are approximately 3,300,000 acres (13,000 km 2 ) of wilderness in 12 separate wilderness areas that are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System established by the Wilderness Act of 1964. The U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management controls 8,100,000 acres (33,000 km 2 ) of federal land. The U.S. Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service administers 110,000 acres (450 km 2 ) of 1.1 million acres of National Wildlife Refuges and waterfowl production areas in Montana. The U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation administers approximately 300,000 acres (1,200 km 2 ) of land and water surface in the state. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks operate approximately 275,265 acres (1,113.96 km 2 ) of state parks and access points on the state's rivers and lakes. The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation manages 5,200,000 acres (21,000 km 2 ) of School Trust Land ceded by the federal government under the Land Ordinance of 1785 to the state in 1889 when Montana was granted statehood. These lands are managed by the state for the benefit of public schools and institutions in the state. [164]

Areas managed by the National Park Service include: [165]

Climate Edit

Montana is a large state with considerable variation in geography, topography and altitude, and the climate is equally varied. The state spans from below the 45th parallel (the line equidistant between the equator and North Pole) to the 49th parallel, and elevations range from under 2,000 feet (610 m) to nearly 13,000 feet (4,000 m) above sea level. The western half is mountainous, interrupted by numerous large valleys. Eastern Montana comprises plains and badlands, broken by hills and isolated mountain ranges, and has a semiarid, continental climate (Köppen climate classification BSk). The Continental Divide has a considerable effect on the climate, as it restricts the flow of warmer air from the Pacific from moving east, and drier continental air from moving west. The area west of the divide has a modified northern Pacific Coast climate, with milder winters, cooler summers, less wind, and a longer growing season. [166] Low clouds and fog often form in the valleys west of the divide in winter, but this is rarely seen in the east. [167]

Average daytime temperatures vary from 28 °F or −2.2 °C in January to 84.5 °F or 29.2 °C in July. [168] [ verification needed ] The variation in geography leads to great variation in temperature. The highest observed summer temperature was 117 °F or 47.2 °C at Glendive on July 20, 1893, and Medicine Lake on July 5, 1937. Throughout the state, summer nights are generally cool and pleasant. Extreme hot weather is less common above 4,000 feet or 1,200 meters. [166] Snowfall has been recorded in all months of the year in the more mountainous areas of central and western Montana, though it is rare in July and August. [166]

The coldest temperature on record for Montana is also the coldest temperature for the contiguous United States. On January 20, 1954, −70 °F or −56.7 °C was recorded at a gold mining camp near Rogers Pass. Temperatures vary greatly on cold nights, and Helena, 40 miles (64 km) to the southeast had a low of only −36 °F or −37.8 °C on the same date, and an all-time record low of −42 °F or −41.1 °C. [166] Winter cold spells are usually the result of cold continental air coming south from Canada. The front is often well defined, causing a large temperature drop in a 24-hour period. Conversely, air flow from the southwest results in "chinooks". These steady 25–50 mph (40–80 km/h) (or more) winds can suddenly warm parts of Montana, especially areas just to the east of the mountains, where temperatures sometimes rise up to 50–60 °F (10.0–15.6 °C) for 10 days or longer. [166] [169]

Loma is the site of the most extreme recorded temperature change in a 24-hour period in the United States. On January 15, 1972, a chinook wind blew in and the temperature rose from −54 to 49 °F (−47.8 to 9.4 °C). [170]

Average annual precipitation is 15 inches (380 mm), but great variations are seen. The mountain ranges block the moist Pacific air, holding moisture in the western valleys, and creating rain shadows to the east. Heron, in the west, receives the most precipitation, 34.70 inches (881 mm). On the eastern (leeward) side of a mountain range, the valleys are much drier Lonepine averages 11.45 inches (291 mm), and Deer Lodge 11.00 inches (279 mm) of precipitation. The mountains can receive over 100 inches (2,500 mm), for example the Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park gets 105 inches (2,700 mm). [167] An area southwest of Belfry averaged only 6.59 inches (167 mm) over a 16-year period. Most of the larger cities get 30 to 50 inches or 0.76 to 1.27 meters of snow each year. Mountain ranges can accumulate 300 inches or 7.62 meters of snow during a winter. Heavy snowstorms may occur from September through May, though most snow falls from November to March. [166]

The climate has become warmer in Montana [ when? ] and continues to do so. [171] The glaciers in Glacier National Park have receded and are predicted to melt away completely in a few decades. [172] Many Montana cities set heat records during July 2007, the hottest month ever recorded in Montana. [171] [173] Winters are warmer, too, and have fewer cold spells. Previously, these cold spells had killed off bark beetles, but these are now attacking the forests of western Montana. [174] [175] The warmer winters in the region have allowed various species to expand their ranges and proliferate. [176] The combination of warmer weather, attack by beetles, and mismanagement has led to a substantial increase in the severity of forest fires in Montana. [171] [175] According to a study done for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science, parts of Montana will experience a 200% increase in area burned by wildfires and an 80% increase in related air pollution. [177] [178]

The table below lists average temperatures for the warmest and coldest month for Montana's seven largest cities. The coldest month varies between December and January depending on location, although figures are similar throughout.

Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for selected cities in Montana [179]
Location July (°F) Coldest month (°F) July (°C) Coldest month (°C)
Billings 89/54 32/14 32/15 4/–9
Missoula 86/51 30/11 31/16 −0/–8
Great Falls 83/51 28/11 34/15 1/–9
Bozeman 81/51 27/10 31/12 −0/–11
Butte 80/45 27/7 30/5 −1/–15
Helena 86/54 30/12 31/12 −0/–11
Kalispell 81/48 27/9 29/14 −1/–10

Antipodes Edit

Montana is one of only two contiguous states (along with Colorado) that are antipodal to land. The Kerguelen Islands are antipodal to the Montana–Saskatchewan–Alberta border. No towns are precisely antipodal to Kerguelen, though Chester and Rudyard are close. [180]

Cities and towns Edit

Montana has 56 counties and a total of 364 "places" as defined by the United States Census Bureau the latter comprising 129 incorporated places and 235 census-designated places. The incorporated places are made up of 52 cities, 75 towns, and two consolidated city-counties. [181]

Montana has one city, Billings, with a population over 100,000 and two cities with populations over 50,000: Missoula and Great Falls. These three communities are the centers of Montana's three Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The state also has five Micropolitan Statistical Areas, centered on Bozeman, Butte, Helena, Kalispell and Havre. [182]

Collectively all of these areas (excluding Havre) are known informally as the "big seven", as they are consistently the seven largest communities in the state (their rank order in terms of population is Billings, Missoula, Great Falls, Bozeman, Butte, Helena and Kalispell, according to the 2010 U.S. Census). [183] Based on 2013 census numbers, they contain 35 percent of Montana's population, [184] and the counties in which they are located are home to 62 percent of the state's population. [185]

The geographic center of population of Montana is in sparsely populated Meagher County, in the town of White Sulphur Springs.

Historical population
Census Pop.
188039,159 90.1%
1890142,924 265.0%
1900243,329 70.3%
1910376,053 54.5%
1920548,889 46.0%
1930537,606 −2.1%
1940559,456 4.1%
1950591,024 5.6%
1960674,767 14.2%
1970694,409 2.9%
1980786,690 13.3%
1990799,065 1.6%
2000902,195 12.9%
2010989,415 9.7%
20201,084,225 9.6%
Source: 1910–2020 [186]

The United States Census Bureau states that the population of Montana was 1,085,407 on April 1, 2020, [5] an 9.7% increase since the 2010 United States census. [187] The 2010 census put Montana's population at 989,415. [183] During the first decade of the new century, growth was mainly concentrated in Montana's seven largest counties, with the highest percentage growth in Gallatin County, which had a 32% increase in its population from 2000 to 2010. [188] The city having the largest percentage growth was Kalispell, with 40.1%, and the city with the largest increase in actual residents was Billings, with an increase in population of 14,323 from 2000 to 2010. [189]

On January 3, 2012, the Census and Economic Information Center (CEIC) at the Montana Department of Commerce estimated Montana had hit the one million population mark sometime between November and December 2011. [190]

According to the 2010 census, 89.4% of the population was White (87.8% non-Hispanic White), 6.3% American Indian and Alaska Native, 2.9% Hispanics and Latinos of any race, 0.6% Asian, 0.4% Black or African American, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 0.6% from some other race, and 2.5% from two or more races. [191] The largest European ancestry groups in Montana as of 2010 are: German (27.0%), Irish (14.8%), English (12.6%), Norwegian (10.9%), French (4.7%), and Italian (3.4%). [192]

Montana Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1990 [193] 2000 [194] 2010 [195]
White 92.7% 90.6% 89.4%
Native 6.0% 6.2% 6.3%
Asian 0.5% 0.5% 0.6%
Black 0.3% 0.3% 0.4%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.1% 0.1%
Other race 0.5% 0.6% 0.6%
Two or more races 1.7% 2.5%

Intrastate demographics Edit

Montana has a larger Native American population, both numerically and as a percentage, than most U.S. states. Ranked 45th in population (by the 2010 Census) it is 19th in native people, [196] who are 6.5% of the state's population—the sixth-highest percentage of all fifty. [196] Of Montana's 56 counties, Native Americans constitute a majority in three: Big Horn, Glacier, and Roosevelt. [197] Other counties with large Native American populations include Blaine, Cascade, Hill, Missoula, and Yellowstone Counties. [198] The state's Native American population grew by 27.9% between 1980 and 1990 (at a time when Montana's entire population rose 1.6%), [198] and by 18.5 percent between 2000 and 2010. [199]

As of 2009, almost two-thirds of Native Americans in the state live in urban areas. [198] Of Montana's 20 largest cities, Polson (15.7%), Havre (13.0%), Great Falls (5.0%), Billings (4.4%), and Anaconda (3.1%) had the greatest percentages of Native American residents in 2010. [200] Billings (4,619), Great Falls (2,942), Missoula (1,838), Havre (1,210), and Polson (706) have the most Native Americans living there. [200] The state's seven reservations include more than 12 distinct Native American ethnolinguistic groups. [191]

While the largest European-American population in Montana overall is German, pockets of significant Scandinavian ancestry are prevalent in some of the farming-dominated northern and eastern prairie regions, parallel to nearby regions of North Dakota and Minnesota. Farmers of Irish, Scots, and English roots also settled in Montana. The historically mining-oriented communities of western Montana such as Butte have a wider range of European-American ethnicity Finns, Eastern Europeans and especially Irish settlers left an indelible mark on the area, as well as people originally from British mining regions such as Cornwall, Devon, and Wales. The nearby city of Helena, also founded as a mining camp, had a similar mix in addition to a small Chinatown. [191] Many of Montana's historic logging communities originally attracted people of Scottish, Scandinavian, Slavic, English, and Scots-Irish descent. [ citation needed ]

The Hutterites, an Anabaptist sect originally from Switzerland, settled here, and today Montana is second only to South Dakota in U.S. Hutterite population, with several colonies spread across the state. Beginning in the mid-1990s, the state also had an influx of Amish, who moved to Montana from the increasingly urbanized areas of Ohio and Pennsylvania. [201]

Montana's Hispanic population is concentrated in the Billings area in south-central Montana, where many of Montana's Mexican-Americans have been in the state for generations. Great Falls has the highest percentage of African-Americans in its population, although Billings has more African-American residents than Great Falls. [200]

The Chinese in Montana, while a low percentage today, have been an important presence. About 2000–3000 Chinese miners were in the mining areas of Montana by 1870, and 2500 in 1890. However, public opinion grew increasingly negative toward them in the 1890s, and nearly half of the state's Asian population left the state by 1900. [202] Today, the Missoula area has a large Hmong population [203] and the nearly 3,000 Montanans who claim Filipino ancestry are the largest Asian-American group in the state. [191]

In the 2015 United States census estimates, Montana had the second-highest percentage of U.S. military veterans of another state. Only the state of Alaska had a higher percentage with Alaska having roughly 14 percent of its population over 18 being veterans and Montana having roughly 12 percent of its population over 18 being veterans. [204]

Native Americans Edit

About 66,000 people of Native American heritage live in Montana. Stemming from multiple treaties and federal legislation, including the Indian Appropriations Act (1851), the Dawes Act (1887), and the Indian Reorganization Act (1934), seven Indian reservations, encompassing 11 federally recognized tribal nations, were created in Montana. A 12th nation, the Little Shell Chippewa is a "landless" people headquartered in Great Falls it is recognized by the state of Montana, but not by the U.S. government. The Blackfeet nation is headquartered on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation (1851) in Browning, Crow on the Crow Indian Reservation (1868) [205] in Crow Agency, Confederated Salish and Kootenai and Pend d'Oreille on the Flathead Indian Reservation (1855) in Pablo, Northern Cheyenne on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation (1884) at Lame Deer, Assiniboine and Gros Ventre on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation (1888) in Fort Belknap Agency, Assiniboine and Sioux on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation (1888) at Poplar, and Chippewa-Cree on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation (1916) near Box Elder. Approximately 63% of all Native people live off the reservations, concentrated in the larger Montana cities, with the largest concentration of urban Indians in Great Falls. The state also has a small Métis population and 1990 census data indicated that people from as many as 275 different tribes lived in Montana. [206]

Montana's Constitution specifically reads, "the state recognizes the distinct and unique cultural heritage of the American Indians and is committed in its educational goals to the preservation of their cultural integrity." [207] It is the only state in the U.S. with such a constitutional mandate. The Indian Education for All Act was passed in 1999 to provide funding for this mandate and ensure implementation. [208] It mandates that all schools teach American Indian history, culture, and heritage from preschool through college. [209] For kindergarten through 12th-grade students, an "Indian Education for All" curriculum from the Montana Office of Public Instruction is available free to all schools. [210] The state was sued in 2004 because of lack of funding, and the state has increased its support of the program. [208] South Dakota passed similar legislation in 2007, and Wisconsin was working to strengthen its own program based on this model—and the current practices of Montana's schools. [208] Each Indian reservation in the state has a fully accredited tribal college. The University of Montana "was the first to establish dual admission agreements with all of the tribal colleges and as such it was the first institution in the nation to actively facilitate student transfer from the tribal colleges." [209]

Birth data Edit

Note: Births in table do not add up, because Hispanics are counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.

  • Since 2016, data for births of White Hispanic origin are not collected, but included in one Hispanic group persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

Languages Edit

English is the official language in the state of Montana, as it is in many U.S. states. According to the 2000 Census, 94.8% of the population aged five and older speak English at home. [218] Spanish is the language next most commonly spoken at home, with about 13,040 Spanish-language speakers in the state (1.4% of the population) in 2011. [219] Also, 15,438 (1.7% of the state population) were speakers of Indo-European languages other than English or Spanish, 10,154 (1.1%) were speakers of a Native American language, and 4,052 (0.4%) were speakers of an Asian or Pacific Islander language. [219] Other languages spoken in Montana (as of 2013) include Assiniboine (about 150 speakers in the Montana and Canada), Blackfoot (about 100 speakers), Cheyenne (about 1,700 speakers), Plains Cree (about 100 speakers), Crow (about 3,000 speakers), Dakota (about 18,800 speakers in Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota), German Hutterite (about 5,600 speakers), Gros Ventre (about 10 speakers), Kalispel-Pend d'Oreille (about 64 speakers), Kutenai (about six speakers), and Lakota (about 6,000 speakers in Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota). [220] The United States Department of Education estimated in 2009 that 5,274 students in Montana spoke a language at home other than English. These included a Native American language (64%), German (4%), Spanish (3%), Russian (1%), and Chinese (less than 0.5%). [221]

Top 14 non-English languages spoken in Montana
Language Percentage of population
(as of 2000) [222]
Spanish 1.5%
German 1.1%
French and Crow (tied) 0.4%
Scandinavian languages (including Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish) 0.2%
Italian, Japanese, Russian, Native American languages (other than Crow significantly Cheyenne), [223] Slavic languages (including Czech, Slovak, and Ukrainian) (tied) 0.1%

Religion Edit

According to the Pew Forum, the religious affiliations of the people of Montana are: Protestant 47%, Catholic 23%, LDS (Mormon) 5%, Jehovah's Witness 2%, Buddhist 1%, Jewish 0.5%, Muslim 0.5%, Hindu 0.5% and nonreligious at 20%. [224]

The largest denominations in Montana as of 2010 were the Catholic Church with 127,612 adherents, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 46,484 adherents, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with 38,665 adherents, and nondenominational Evangelical Protestant with 27,370 adherents. [225]

As of 2020 [update] , the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated Montana's state product was $51.91 billion (47th in the nation) and per capita personal income was $41,280 (37th in the nation). "Personal Income for Montana". BEARFACTS. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Archived from the original on April 6, 2016. [ needs update ]

  • Total employment: 371,239 (As of 2018 [update] ) [226]
  • Total employer establishments: 38,720 (As of 2018 [update] ) [226]

Montana is a relative hub of beer microbrewing, ranking third in the nation in number of craft breweries per capita in 2011. [227] Significant industries exist for lumber and mineral extraction the state's resources include gold, coal, silver, talc, and vermiculite. Ecotaxes on resource extraction are numerous. A 1974 state severance tax on coal (which varied from 20 to 30%) was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in Commonwealth Edison Co. v. Montana, 453 U.S. 609 (1981). [228]

Tourism is also important to the economy, with more than ten million visitors a year to Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake, the Missouri River headwaters, the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn, and three of the five entrances to Yellowstone National Park. [229]

Montana's personal income tax contains seven brackets, with rates ranging from 1.0 to 6.9 percent. Montana has no sales tax*, and household goods are exempt from property taxes. However, property taxes are assessed on livestock, farm machinery, heavy equipment, automobiles, trucks, and business equipment. The amount of property tax owed is not determined solely by the property's value. The property's value is multiplied by a tax rate, set by the Montana Legislature, to determine its taxable value. The taxable value is then multiplied by the mill levy established by various taxing jurisdictions—city and county government, school districts, and others. [230]

In the 1980s the absence of a sales tax became economically deleterious to communities bound to the state's tourism industry, as the revenue from income and property taxes provided by residents was grossly insignificant in regards to paying for the impact of non-residential travel—especially road repair. In 1985, the Montana Legislature passed a law allowing towns with fewer than 5,500 residents and unincorporated communities with fewer than 2,500 to levy a resort tax if more than half the community's income came from tourism. The resort tax is a sales tax that applies to hotels, motels and other lodging and camping facilities restaurants, fast-food stores, and other food service establishments taverns, bars, night clubs, lounges, or other public establishments that serve alcohol as well as destination ski resorts or other destination recreational facilities. [231]

It also applies to "luxuries"- defined by law as any item normally sold to the public or to transient visitors or tourists that does not include food purchased unprepared or unserved, medicine, medical supplies and services, appliances, hardware supplies and tools, or any necessities of life. [232] Approximately 12.2 million non-residents visited Montana in 2018, and the population was estimated to be 1.06 million. This extremely disproportionate ratio of residents paying taxes vs. non-residents using state-funded services and infrastructure makes Montana's resort tax crucial in order to safely maintain heavily used roads and highways, as well as protect and preserve state parks.

As of September 2020 [update] , the state's unemployment rate is 5.3%. [233]

Colleges and universities Edit

Tribal colleges in Montana include:

Four private colleges are in Montana:

Schools Edit

The Montana Territory was formed on April 26, 1864, when the U.S. passed the Organic Act. [234] Schools started forming in the area before it was officially a territory as families started settling into the area. The first schools were subscription schools that typically met in the teacher's home. The first formal school on record was at Fort Owen in Bitterroot valley in 1862. The students were Indian children and the children of Fort Owen employees. The first school term started in early winter and lasted only until February 28. Classes were taught by Mr. Robinson. [235] Another early subscription school was started by Thomas Dimsdale in Virginia City in 1863. In this school students were charged $1.75 per week. [236] The Montana Territorial Legislative Assembly had its inaugural meeting in 1864. [237] The first legislature authorized counties to levy taxes for schools, which set the foundations for public schooling. [238] Madison County was the first to take advantage of the newly authorized taxes and it formed the first public school in Virginia City in 1886. [236] The first school year was scheduled to begin in January 1866, but severe weather postponed its opening until March. The first school year ran through the summer and did not end until August 17. One of the first teachers at the school was Sarah Raymond. She was a 25-year-old woman who had traveled to Virginia City via wagon train in 1865. To become a certified teacher, Raymond took a test in her home and paid a $6 fee in gold dust to obtain a teaching certificate. With the help of an assistant teacher, Mrs. Farley, [239] Raymond was responsible for teaching 50 to 60 students each day out of the 81 students enrolled at the school. Sarah Raymond was paid $125 per month, and Mrs. Farley was paid $75 per month. No textbooks were used in the school. In their place was an assortment of books brought by various emigrants. [240] Sarah quit teaching the following year, but she later became the Madison County superintendent of schools. [239]

Many well-known artists, photographers and authors have documented the land, culture and people of Montana in the last 130 years. Painter and sculptor Charles Marion Russell, known as "the cowboy artist", created more than 2,000 paintings of cowboys, Native Americans, and landscapes set in the Western United States and in Alberta, Canada. [241] The C. M. Russell Museum Complex in Great Falls, Montana, houses more than 2,000 Russell artworks, personal objects, and artifacts.

Pioneering feminist author, film-maker, and media personality Mary MacLane attained international fame in 1902 with her memoir of three months in her life in Butte, The Story of Mary MacLane. She referred to Butte throughout the rest of her career and remains a controversial figure there for her mixture of criticism and love for Butte and its people.

Evelyn Cameron, a naturalist and photographer from Terry documented early 20th-century life on the Montana prairie, taking startlingly clear pictures of everything around her: cowboys, sheepherders, weddings, river crossings, freight wagons, people working, badlands, eagles, coyotes and wolves. [242]

Many notable Montana authors have documented or been inspired by life in Montana in both fiction and non-fiction works. Pulitzer Prize winner Wallace Earle Stegner from Great Falls was often called "The Dean of Western Writers". [243] James Willard Schultz ("Apikuni") from Browning is most noted for his prolific stories about Blackfeet life and his contributions to the naming of prominent features in Glacier National Park. [244]

Major cultural events Edit

Montana hosts numerous arts and cultural festivals and events every year. Major events include:

    was once known as the "Sweet Pea capital of the nation" referencing the prolific edible pea crop. To promote the area and celebrate its prosperity, local business owners began a "Sweet Pea Carnival" that included a parade and queen contest. The annual event lasted from 1906 to 1916. Promoters used the inedible but fragrant and colorful sweet pea flower as an emblem of the celebration. In 1977 the "Sweet Pea" concept was revived as an arts festival rather than a harvest celebration, growing into a three-day event that is one of the largest festivals in Montana. [245]
  • Montana Shakespeare in the Parks has been performing free, live theatrical productions of Shakespeare and other classics throughout Montana and the Northwest region since 1973. The organization is an outreach endeavor that is part of the College of Arts & Architecture at Montana State University, Bozeman. [246] The Montana Shakespeare Company is based in Helena. [247]
  • Since 1909, the Crow Fair and Rodeo, near Hardin, has been an annual event every August in Crow Agency and is the largest Northern Native American gathering, attracting nearly 45,000 spectators and participants. [248] Since 1952, North American Indian Days has been held every July in Browning. [249] hosts the annual Northern Cheyenne Powwow.

Sports Edit

Professional sports Edit

There are no major league sports franchises in Montana due to the state's relatively small and dispersed population, but a number of minor league teams play in the state. Baseball is the minor-league sport with the longest heritage in the state, and Montana is home to three Minor League Baseball teams, all members of the Pioneer League: the Billings Mustangs, Great Falls Voyagers, and Missoula Osprey.

College sports Edit

All of Montana's four-year colleges and universities field intercollegiate sports teams. The two largest schools, the University of Montana and Montana State University, are members of the Big Sky Conference and have enjoyed a strong athletic rivalry since the early twentieth century. Six of Montana's smaller four-year schools are members of the Frontier Conference. [250] One is a member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. [251]

Other sports Edit

A variety of sports are offered at Montana high schools. [252] Montana allows the smallest—"Class C"—high schools to utilize six-man football teams, [253] dramatized in the independent 2002 film The Slaughter Rule. [254]

There are junior ice hockey teams in Montana, three of which are affiliated with the North American 3 Hockey League: the Bozeman Icedogs, Great Falls Americans, and Helena Bighorns.

Olympic competitors Edit

    champion and United States Skiing Hall of Fame inductee Casper Oimoen was captain of the U.S. Olympic team at the 1936 Winter Olympics while he was a resident of Anaconda. He placed thirteenth that year, and had previously finished fifth at the 1932 Winter Olympics. [255][256]
  • Montana has produced two U.S. champions and Olympic competitors in men's figure skating, both from Great Falls: John Misha Petkevich, lived and trained in Montana before entering college, competed in the 1968 and 1972 Winter Olympics. [257][258]Scott Davis, also from Great Falls, competed at the 1994 Winter Olympics. [259]
  • Missoulian Tommy Moe won Olympic gold and silver medals at the 1994 Winter Olympics in downhill skiing and super G, the first American skier to win two medals at any Winter Olympics. [260] , also of Missoula, won an Olympic gold medal in freestyle aerial skiing at the 1998 Winter Olympics, also competing in 1994, 2002 and 2006 Olympics plus winning 13 World Cup titles. [261]

Sporting achievements Edit

Montanans have been a part of several major sporting achievements:

  • In 1889, Spokane became the first and only Montana horse to win the Kentucky Derby. For this accomplishment, the horse was admitted to the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2008. [262][263]
  • In 1904 a basketball team of young Native American women from Fort Shaw, after playing undefeated during their previous season, went to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in St. Louis in 1904, defeated all challenging teams and were declared to be world champions. [264]
  • In 1923, the controversial Jack Dempsey vs. Tommy Gibbons fight for the heavyweight boxing championship, won by Dempsey, took place in Shelby. [265]

Outdoor recreation Edit

Montana provides year-round outdoor recreation opportunities for residents and visitors. Hiking, fishing, hunting, watercraft recreation, camping, golf, cycling, horseback riding, and skiing are popular activities. [266]

Fishing and hunting Edit

Montana has been a destination for its world-class trout fisheries since the 1930s. [267] Fly fishing for several species of native and introduced trout in rivers and lakes is popular for both residents and tourists throughout the state. Montana is the home of the Federation of Fly Fishers and hosts many of the organization's annual conclaves. The state has robust recreational lake trout and kokanee salmon fisheries in the west, walleye can be found in many parts of the state, while northern pike, smallmouth and largemouth bass fisheries as well as catfish and paddlefish can be found in the waters of eastern Montana. [268] Robert Redford's 1992 film of Norman Mclean's novel, A River Runs Through It, was filmed in Montana and brought national attention to fly fishing and the state. [269] Fishing makes up a sizeable component of Montana's total tourism economic output: in 2017, nonresidents generated $4.7 billion in economic output, of which, $1.3 billion was generated by visitor groups participating in guided fishing experiences. [270]

Montana is home to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and has a historic big game hunting tradition. There are fall bow and general hunting seasons for elk, pronghorn antelope, whitetail deer and mule deer. A random draw grants a limited number of permits for moose, mountain goats and bighorn sheep. There is a spring hunting season for black bear and in most years, limited hunting of bison that leave Yellowstone National Park is allowed. Current law allows both hunters and trappers specified numbers ("limits") of wolves and mountain lions. Trapping of assorted fur-bearing animals is allowed in certain seasons and many opportunities exist for migratory waterfowl and upland bird hunting. [271] [272]

Winter sports Edit

Both downhill skiing and cross-country skiing are popular in Montana, which has 15 developed downhill ski areas open to the public, [273] including:

    near Havre in Big Sky near Lakeside near Bozeman near Philipsburg near Helena off Interstate 90 at the Montana-Idaho border near Darby near Dillon near Missoula near Red Lodge near White Sulphur Springs near Choteau near Libby near Whitefish

Big Sky Resort and Whitefish Mountain Resort are destination resorts, while the remaining areas do not have overnight lodging at the ski area, though several host restaurants and other amenities. [273]

Montana also has millions of acres open to cross-country skiing on nine of its national forests and in Glacier National Park. In addition to cross-country trails at most of the downhill ski areas, there are also 13 private cross-country skiing resorts. [274] Yellowstone National Park also allows cross-country skiing. [275]

Snowmobiling is popular in Montana, which boasts over 4,000 miles of trails and frozen lakes available in winter. [276] There are 24 areas where snowmobile trails are maintained, most also offering ungroomed trails. [277] West Yellowstone offers a large selection of trails and is the primary starting point for snowmobile trips into Yellowstone National Park, [278] where "oversnow" vehicle use is strictly limited, usually to guided tours, and regulations are in considerable flux. [279]

Snow coach tours are offered at Big Sky, Whitefish, West Yellowstone and into Yellowstone National Park. [280] Equestrian skijoring has a niche in Montana, which hosts the World Skijoring Championships in Whitefish as part of the annual Whitefish Winter Carnival. [281]

Montana does not have a Trauma I hospital but does have Trauma II hospitals in Missoula, Billings, and Great Falls. [282] In 2013, AARP The Magazine named the Billings Clinic one of the safest hospitals in the United States. [283]

Montana is ranked as the least obese state in the U.S., at 19.6%, according to the 2014 Gallup Poll. [284]

Montana has the highest suicide rate of any state in the US as of 2017. [285]

As of 2010, Missoula is the 166th largest media market in the United States as ranked by Nielsen Media Research, while Billings is 170th, Great Falls is 190th, the Butte-Bozeman area 191st, and Helena is 206th. [286] There are 25 television stations in Montana, representing each major U.S. network. [287] As of August 2013, there are 527 FCC-licensed FM radio stations broadcast in Montana, with 114 such AM stations. [288] [289]

During the age of the Copper Kings, each Montana copper company had its own newspaper. This changed in 1959 when Lee Enterprises bought several Montana newspapers. [290] [291] Montana's largest circulating daily city newspapers are the Billings Gazette (circulation 39,405), Great Falls Tribune (26,733), and Missoulian (25,439). [292]

Railroads have been an important method of transportation in Montana since the 1880s. Historically, the state was traversed by the main lines of three east–west transcontinental routes: the Milwaukee Road, the Great Northern, and the Northern Pacific. Today, the BNSF Railway is the state's largest railroad, its main transcontinental route incorporating the former Great Northern main line across the state. Montana RailLink, a privately held Class II railroad, operates former Northern Pacific trackage in western Montana.

Historically, U.S. Route 10 was the primary east–west highway route across Montana, connecting the major cities in the southern half of the state. Still, the state's most important east–west travel corridor, the route is today served by Interstate 90 and Interstate 94 which roughly follow the same route as the Northern Pacific. U.S. Routes 2 and 12 and Montana Highway 200 also traverse the entire state from east to west.

Montana's only north–south Interstate Highway is Interstate 15. Other major north–south highways include U.S. Routes 87, 89, 93 and 191.

Montana and South Dakota are the only states to share a land border that is not traversed by a paved road. Highway 212, the primary paved route between the two, passes through the northeast corner of Wyoming between Montana and South Dakota. [296] [297]

Constitution Edit

Montana is governed by a constitution. The first constitution was drafted by a constitutional convention in 1889, in preparation for statehood. Ninety percent of its language came from an 1884 constitution which was never acted upon by Congress for national political reasons. The 1889 constitution mimicked the structure of the United States Constitution, as well as outlining almost the same civil and political rights for citizens. However, the 1889 Montana constitution significantly restricted the power of state government, the legislature was much more powerful than the executive branch, and the jurisdiction of the District Courts very specifically described. [298] Montana voters amended the 1889 constitution 37 times between 1889 and 1972. [299] In 1914, Montana granted women the vote. In 1916, Montana became the first state to elect a woman, Progressive Republican Jeannette Rankin, to Congress. [300] [301]

In 1971, Montana voters approved the call for a state constitutional convention. A new constitution was drafted, which made the legislative and executive branches much more equal in power and which was much less prescriptive in outlining powers, duties, and jurisdictions. [302] The draft included an expanded, more progressive list of civil and political rights, extended these rights to children for the first time, transferred administration of property taxes to the counties from the state, implemented new water rights, eliminated sovereign immunity, and gave the legislature greater power to spend tax revenues. The constitution was narrowly approved, 116,415 to 113,883, and declared ratified on June 20, 1972. Three issues that the constitutional convention was unable to resolve were submitted to voters simultaneously with the proposed constitution. Voters approved the legalization of gambling, a bicameral legislature, and retention of the death penalty. [303]

The 1972 constitution has been amended 31 times as of 2015. [304] Major amendments include establishment of a reclamation trust (funded by taxes on natural resource extraction) to restore mined land (1974) restoration of sovereign immunity, when such immunity has been approved by a two-thirds vote in each house (1974) establishment of a 90-day biennial (rather than annual) legislative session (1974) establishment of a coal tax trust fund, funded by a tax on coal extraction (1976) conversion of the mandatory decennial review of county government into a voluntary one, to be approved or disallowed by residents in each county (1978) conversion of the provision of public assistance from a mandatory civil right to a non-fundamental legislative prerogative (1988) [305] a new constitutional right to hunt and fish (2004) a prohibition on gay marriage (2004) and a prohibition on new taxes on the sale or transfer of real property (2010). [304] In 1992, voters approved a constitutional amendment implementing term limits for certain statewide elected executive branch offices (governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, attorney general, superintendent of public instruction) and for members of the Montana Legislature. Extensive new constitutional rights for victims of crime were approved in 2016. [306]

The 1972 constitution requires that voters determine every 20 years whether to hold a new constitutional convention. Voters turned down a new convention in 1990 (84 percent no) [307] and again in 2010 (58.6 percent no). [308]

Executive Edit

Montana has three branches of state government: legislative, executive, and judicial. The executive branch is headed by an elected governor. The governor is Greg Gianforte, a Republican elected in 2020. There are also nine other statewide elected offices in the executive branch: Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor (who also serves as Commissioner of Securities and Insurance), and Superintendent of Public Instruction. There are five public service commissioners, who are elected on a regional basis. (The Public Service Commission's jurisdiction is statewide.)

There are 18 departments and offices which make up the executive branch: Administration Agriculture Auditor (securities and insurance) Commerce Corrections Environmental Quality Fish, Wildlife & Parks Justice Labor and Industry Livestock Military Affairs Natural Resources and Conservation Public Health and Human Services Revenue State and Transportation. Elementary and secondary education are overseen by the Office of Public Instruction (led by the elected superintendent of public instruction), in cooperation with the governor-appointed Board of Public Education. Higher education is overseen by a governor-appointed Board of Regents, which in turn appoints a commissioner of higher education. The Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education acts in an executive capacity on behalf of the regents and oversees the state-run Montana University System.

Independent state agencies not within a department or office include the Montana Arts Council, Montana Board of Crime Control, Montana Historical Society, Montana Public Employees Retirement Administration, Commissioner of Political Practices, the Montana Lottery, Office of the State Public Defender, Public Service Commission, the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind, the Montana State Fund (which operates the state's unemployment insurance, worker compensation, and self-insurance operations), the Montana State Library, and the Montana Teachers Retirement System.

Legislative Edit

The Montana Legislature is bicameral and consists of the 50-member Montana Senate and the 100-member Montana House of Representatives. The legislature meets in the Montana State Capitol in Helena in odd-numbered years for 90 days, beginning the first weekday of the year. The deadline for a legislator to introduce a general bill is the 40th legislative day. The deadline for a legislator to introduce an appropriations, revenue, or referenda bill is the 62nd legislative day. Senators serve four-year terms, while Representatives serve two-year terms. All members are limited to serving no more than eight years in a single 16-year period.

Judicial Edit

The Courts of Montana are established by the Constitution of Montana. The constitution requires the establishment of a Montana Supreme Court and Montana District Courts, and permits the legislature to establish Justice Courts, City Courts, Municipal Courts, and other inferior courts such as the legislature sees fit to establish.

The Montana Supreme Court is the court of last resort in the Montana court system. The constitution of 1889 provided for the election of no fewer than three Supreme Court justices, and one chief justice. Each court member served a six-year term. The legislature increased the number of justices to five in 1919. The 1972 constitution lengthened the term of office to eight years and established the minimum number of justices at five. It allowed the legislature to increase the number of justices by two, which the legislature did in 1979. The Montana Supreme Court has the authority to declare acts of the legislature and executive unconstitutional under either the Montana or U.S. constitutions. Its decisions may be appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. The clerk of the Supreme Court is also an elected position and serves a six-year term. Neither justices nor the clerk is term-limited.

Montana District Courts are the courts of general jurisdiction in Montana. There are no intermediate appellate courts. District Courts have jurisdiction primarily over most civil cases, cases involving a monetary claim against the state, felony criminal cases, probate, and cases at law and in equity. When so authorized by the legislature, actions of executive branch agencies may be appealed directly to a District Court. The District Courts also have de novo appellate jurisdiction from inferior courts (city courts, justice courts, and municipal courts), and oversee naturalization proceedings. District Court judges are elected and serve six-year terms. They are not term-limited. There are 22 judicial districts in Montana, served by 56 District Courts and 46 District Court judges. The District Courts suffer from excessive workload, and the legislature has struggled to find a solution to the problem.

Montana Youth Courts were established by the Montana Youth Court Act of 1974. They are overseen by District Court judges. They consist of a chief probation officer, one or more juvenile probation officers, and support staff. Youth Courts have jurisdiction over misdemeanor and felony acts committed by those charged as a juvenile under the law. There is a Youth Court in every judicial district, and decisions of the Youth Court are appealable directly to the Montana Supreme Court.

The Montana Worker's Compensation Court was established by the Montana Workers' Compensation Act in 1975. There is a single Workers' Compensation Court. It has a single judge, appointed by the governor. The Worker's Compensation Court has statewide jurisdiction and holds trials in Billings, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. The court hears cases arising under the Montana Workers' Compensation Act and is the court of original jurisdiction for reviews of orders and regulations issued by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. Decisions of the court are appealable directly to the Montana Supreme Court.

The Montana Water Court was established by the Montana Water Court Act of 1979. The Water Court consists of a chief water judge and four district water judges (Lower Missouri River Basin, Upper Missouri River Basin, Yellowstone River Basin, and Clark Fork River Basin). The court employs 12 permanent special masters. The Montana Judicial Nomination Commission develops short lists of nominees for all five Water Judges, who are then appointed by the Chief justice of the Montana Supreme Court (subject to confirmation by the Montana Senate). The Water Court adjudicates water rights claims under the Montana Water Use Act of 1973 and has statewide jurisdiction. District Courts have the authority to enforce decisions of the Water Court, but only the Montana Supreme Court has the authority to review decisions of the Water Court.

From 1889 to 1909, elections for judicial office in Montana were partisan. Beginning in 1909, these elections became nonpartisan. The Montana Supreme Court struck down the nonpartisan law in 1911 on technical grounds, but a new law was enacted in 1935 which barred political parties from endorsing, making contributions to, or making expenditures on behalf of or against judicial candidates. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Montana's judicial nonpartisan election law in American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock , 567 U.S. ____ (Sup.Ct. 2012).Although candidates must remain nonpartisan, spending by partisan entities is now permitted. Spending on state supreme court races exponentially increased to $1.6 million in 2014, and to more than $1.6 million in 2016 (both new records).

Federal offices and courts Edit

The U.S. Constitution provides each state with two senators. Montana's two U.S. senators are Jon Tester (Democrat), who was reelected in 2018, and Steve Daines (Republican), first elected in 2014. The U.S. Constitution provides each state with a single representative, with additional representatives apportioned based on population. From statehood in 1889 until 1913, Montana was represented in the United States House of Representatives by a single representative, elected at-large. Montana received a second representative in 1913, following the 1910 census and reapportionment. Both members, however, were still elected at-large. Beginning in 1919, Montana moved to district, rather than at-large, elections for its two House members. This created Montana's 1st congressional district in the west and Montana's 2nd congressional district in the east. In the reapportionment following the 1990 census, Montana lost one of its House seats. The remaining seat was again elected at-large. Matt Rosendale is the current officeholder.

Montana's Senate district is the fourth largest by area, behind Alaska, Texas, and California. The most notorious of Montana's early senators was William A. Clark, a "Copper King" and one of the 50 richest Americans ever. He is well known for having bribed his way into the U.S. Senate. Among Montana's most historically prominent senators are Thomas J. Walsh (serving from 1913 to 1933), who was President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt's choice for attorney general when he died Burton K. Wheeler (serving from 1923 to 1947), an oft-mentioned presidential candidate and strong supporter of isolationism Mike Mansfield, the longest-serving Senate majority leader in U.S. history Max Baucus (served 1978 to 2014), longest-serving U.S. senator in Montana history, and the senator who shepherded the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act through the Senate in 2010 and Lee Metcalf (served 1961 to 1978), a pioneer of the environmental movement.

Montana's House district is the largest congressional district in the United States by population, with just over 1,023,000 constituents. It is the second-largest House district by area, after Alaska's at-large congressional district. Of Montana's House delegates, Jeannette Rankin was the first woman to hold national office in the United States when she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1916. [311] Also notable is Representative (later Senator) Thomas H. Carter, the first Catholic to serve as chairman of the Republican National Committee (from 1892 to 1896). [312]

Federal courts in Montana include the United States District Court for the District of Montana and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Montana. Three former Montana politicians have been named judges on the U.S. District Court: Charles Nelson Pray (who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1907 to 1913), James F. Battin (who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969), and Paul G. Hatfield (who served as an appointed U.S. Senator in 1978). Brian Morris, who served as an associate justice of the Montana Supreme Court from 2005 to 2013, currently serves as a judge on the court.

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2020 56.92% 343,602 40.55% 244,786
2016 56.17% 279,240 35.75% 177,709
2012 55.35% 267,928 41.70% 201,839
2008 49.49% 243,882 47.11% 232,159
2004 59.10% 266,063 38.60% 173,710
2000 58.40% 240,178 33.40% 137,126
1996 44.11% 179,652 41.23% 167,922
1992 35.12% 144,207 37.63% 154,507
1988 52.07% 190,412 46.20% 168,936
1984 60.47% 232,450 38.18% 146,742

Elections in the state have been competitive, with the Democrats usually holding an edge, thanks to the support among unionized miners and railroad workers. Large-scale battles revolved around the giant Anaconda Copper company, based in Butte and controlled by Rockefeller interests, until it closed in the 1970s. Until 1959, the company owned five of the state's six largest newspapers. [313]

Historically, Montana is a swing state of cross-ticket voters who tend to fill elected offices with individuals from both parties. Through the mid-20th century, the state had a tradition of "sending the liberals to Washington and the conservatives to Helena". Between 1988 and 2006, the pattern flipped, with voters more likely to elect conservatives to federal offices. There have also been long-term shifts in party control. From 1968 through 1988, the state was dominated by the Democratic Party, with Democratic governors for a 20-year period, and a Democratic majority of both the national congressional delegation and during many sessions of the state legislature. This pattern shifted, beginning with the 1988 election when Montana elected a Republican governor for the first time since 1964 and sent a Republican to the U.S. Senate for the first time since 1948. This shift continued with the reapportionment of the state's legislative districts that took effect in 1994, when the Republican Party took control of both chambers of the state legislature, consolidating a Republican party dominance that lasted until the 2004 reapportionment produced more swing districts and a brief period of Democratic legislative majorities in the mid-2000s. [314]

In more recent presidential elections, Montana has voted for the Republican candidate in all but two elections from 1952 to the present. [315] The state last supported a Democrat for president in 1992, when Bill Clinton won a plurality victory. Overall, since 1889 the state has voted for Democratic governors 60 percent of the time and Republican governors 40 percent of the time. In the 2008 presidential election, Montana was considered a swing state and was ultimately won by Republican John McCain, albeit by a narrow margin of two percent. [316]

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

See you next fall, if not before

Teaching Montana History is going on hiatus for summer break--unless something time sensitive comes along that is so good I can't bear not to share it.

If you are changing schools, please re-subscribe using your new address! We'd hate to lose touch.

If your travels bring you to Helena this summer, please stop in and say "hello." And of course, don't hesitate to contact me if I can help you as you prepare for your classes next fall: [email protected]

Do know that there's still time to complete our annual survey and to share your favorite lesson. (Need more incentive? The prize for the forty-eighth person to complete the survey is still waiting to be claimed.)

Whether through the survey, an email, or if your vacation takes you through Helena, I look forward to hearing from you.

P.S. Missing the Teaching Montana History already? Browse back posts. Use the labels on the right-hand side to browse general areas (IEFA) or the search bar to search by keywords (primary sources). And if you have time this summer, consider taking some online professional development to learn more about Montana history and teaching resources while earning OPI Renewal Units.

Historical Note Return to Top

The Society of Montana Pioneers was founded in Helena on September 11, 1884. James Fergus was elected the first president George Irvine II, recording secretary and Samuel T. Hauser, treasurer. Thirteen vice presidents represented the state's counties. Membership was open to "all persons who were residents within the Territory, on or before May 26, 1864." In 1901, the date of the residency requirement was changed to December 31, 1868. Dues were set at two dollars a year, "but no person shall be expelled for non-payment of same."

The Society sponsored annual conventions in various Montana communities, promoting an interest in local history. Pioneers were encouraged to contribute biographical reminiscences, and officers gave papers at these meetings. The Society's growth led to the organization of six county Pioneer Societies by 1897.

On August 18, 1892, the Society of Sons and Daughters of Montana Pioneers was founded. Membership was open to anyone with a relative who would have qualified for membership in the Society of Montana Pioneers.

As a result of the Pioneers' research, the Society compiled and published a Register in 1899, containing biographical sketches of over 1,800 pioneers. In succeeding decades, the Society continued to preserve records, to promote the restoration of monuments, to solicit historical reminiscences, and often to provide small financial contributions to needy pioneers.

Content Description Return to Top

The collection includes a variety of biographical materials contributed by the membership and other early residents. Minutes of the annual meetings (1886-1938) record historical narratives in addition to business proceedings. The collection also contains membership lists and correspondence with members. Because of the inter-association of the two societies, the respective records have been consolidated.

Use of the Collection Return to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of the Montana Historical Society. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collection. In some cases permission for use may require additional authorization from the copyright owners. For more information contact an archivist.

Preferred Citation

Item description and date. Collection Title. Collection Number. Box and Folder numbers. Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives, Helena, Montana.

Administrative Information Return to Top


Arranged by series. Biographical series arranged alphabetically. Some material housed in manuscript volumes. Some material housed in oversize folder in archives map case. See inventory below for more information.

Location of Collection

Acquisition Information

Acquisition information available upon request

Separated Materials

Photographs and artifacts were transferred from this collection to the M.H.S. Photo Archives and Museum, respectively. See inventory below for more information.

Detailed Description of the Collection Return to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection

February 4, 2021

Montana Hi-Line and the Syverud brothers, Now Digitized in On-going Project

By Micah Chang, PhD. candidate, Montana State University

Many Montanans perceive the Hi-Line as “drive-through country,” destitute of people and places. However, one glance at Henry and Edgar Syverud’s photo collection challenges that modern cultural stereotype. The Syveruds’ photo collection tells the story of hope and hard times on the Montana Hi-Line through a series of four volumes of scrapbooks, encompassing some 1,500 photographic prints, that track the two brothers awash in the tides of local, regional, and national history.

Lot 045 v1p11.Stamp 1 and Lot 045 v1p11.Stamp 2, Portraits of Henry and Edgar Syverud in their mid-30s

Henry and Edgar Syverud were born in Osnabrock, North Dakota, in the mid-1880s to Knute and Anne Syverud. Both brothers’ lives show their strong connection to Norwegian and Scandinavian ancestry through their immediate communities and worldviews evident in their photo collection. The two brothers were nearly inseparable from the start, both attending the University of North Dakota and then proceeding to homestead in northeastern and eastern Montana. Lot 045 v1p07.19, View of Henry Syverud (left) while at the University of North Dakota Henry initially homesteaded in the early 20th century in the area between Coalridge and Dagmar, Montana, in what was then Valley County, though soon to become Sheridan County. While Edgar started farther south in Dawson County, opting to move north into Sheridan County with his brother around 1916. From 1916 until their deaths in 1965 and 1966, Henry and Edgar Syverud lived together on Henry’s homestead, farming and participating in all forms of community activities.

Lot 045 v1p17.1, View of Edgar Syverud with his bicycle and a camera in hand

Both Syverud brothers cataloged their life’s journey through photography and scrapbooks. Edgar was the primary photographer for years, seemingly bringing his camera to every social event in the area. Henry made the scrapbooks, selecting photos and writing the captions and narrative history sections. They were heavily involved with their neighbors in what started out as the East Coalridge Community Club but eventually morphed into the local chapter of the Farmers’ Union. They were also a part of the development of a local Lutheran congregation. Lastly, the brother’s interest in and fascination with petroglyph rocks, which they called “The Writing Rocks.” led to the creation of Writing Rock State Park, which still exists today. Lot 045 v3p47.3-286, View of the Syveruds’ automobile at the Writing Rock State Park in Divide County, North Dakota. Writing Rock No. 1 is in the foreground The brothers’ social and work lives, and those of their neighbors, is well documented in the photographs taken mostly from about 1910-1960.

The brothers’ story reflects the larger history of the region. By the time both brothers were in their late teenage years, the Montana Hi-Line flooded with hopefuls—often immigrants, single males, and younger people—searching for a future by proving up a quarter-section of unbroken land. After the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909 both brothers ended up in eastern Montana trying their hand at farming. However, after several years of successive drought and financial hardship, the brothers often found themselves deeply engaged in community activities and eclectic hobbies and side jobs. Through their photographs and scrapbooks the Syveruds created a narrative that shows how people persevered through drought, natural disasters, and failure by relying on their families and friends.

[Lot 045 v1p29.2, View of Edgar Syverud with the East Coalridge Community Club at the Haaven Schoolhouse eating pie

Aside from local history, the Syverud’s unintentionally created a photo archive that sheds light on important facets of regional and national history. The scrapbooks’ heavy focus on agriculture reveals the multiplicity of crops that the Syveruds and other homesteaders in northeastern Montana had to grow in order to achieve any semblance of profit. For example, the use of flax—one of the shortest-lived agronomic crops in Montana—dominates many of Edgar’s early photos of planting, harvesting, and threshing. Lot 045 v1p15.7, View of Henry Syverud standing in a field of flax in full bloom Also, the Syverud collection elucidates the history of the United States northern border in a time when the drawing of the 49th parallel was a recent event. Henry and Edgar Syverud recorded the history of their lives however, upon closer inspection, their photo archive tells the story of many immigrants, Montanans, and Americans.

Photos from the first and second scrapbook volumes. and most of the third, are now digitized and available to those interested in the Syveruds’ story, and the history of homesteading in Sheridan County, Montana. Photos can be browsed and searched on the Montana Memory Project, specifically the MHS Photo Archives’ “Photographs from the Montana Historical Society.” Hundreds more Syverud photos will be added over the next couple months thanks to the continuing financial support of the Sheridan County Historical Association and the Montana History Foundation, in partnership with MHS.

Bozeman Vacations

Bozeman has so much great stuff to offer! It would be nearly impossible to get it all listed in one place! Gallatin Valley and its surrounding areas set the landscape for outdoor activities changing with the seasons. Bozeman also caters to culture, dining and art interests as well. These are just our suggestions-- keep your eyes open and explore the beauty and splendor that is Bozeman, Montana. Excitement awaits around every bend.

A little bit of history.

Named after John M. Bozeman, founder of the Bozeman Trail and key founder of the town in August 1854. Incorporated in April 1883, the city later transitioned to its current city manager/city commission form of government in January 1922. Bozeman was elected an All-America City in 2001 by the National Civic League. A college town, Bozeman is home to Montana State University. The local newspaper is the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and the city is served by the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.

William Clark visited the area in July 1806 as he traveled east from Three Forks along the Gallatin River. The party camped 3 miles (4.8 km) east of what is now Bozeman, at the mouth of Kelly Canyon. The journal entries from Clark's party briefly describe the future city's location

In 1863 John Bozeman, along with a partner named John Jacobs, opened the Bozeman Trail, a new northern trail off the Oregon Trail leading to the mining town of Virginia City through the Gallatin Valley and the future location of the city of Bozeman.

John Bozeman, with Daniel Rouse and William Beall platted the town in August 1864, stating "standing right in the gate of the mountains ready to swallow up all tenderfeet that would reach the territory from the east, with their golden fleeces to be taken care of" Red Cloud's War closed the Bozeman Trail in 1868, but the town's fertile land attracted permanent settlers.

In 1892 the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries established a fish hatchery on Bridger Creek at the entrance to Bridger Canyon. The fourth oldest fish hatchery in the United States, the facility ceased to be primarily a hatchery in 1966 and became the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Bozeman National Fish Hatchery, later a fish technology and fish health center. The Center receives approximately 5000 visitors a year observing biologists working on diet testing, feed manufacturing technology, fish diseases, brood stock development and improvement of water quality.

Montana State University - Bozeman was established in 1893 as the state's land-grant college, then named the Agricultural College of the State of Montana. By the 1920s, the institution was known as Montana State College, and in 1965 it became Montana State University.

Bozeman receives a steady influx of new residents and visitors in part due to its plentiful recreational activities such as fly fishing, hiking, whitewater kayaking, and mountain climbing. Additionally, Bozeman is a gateway community through which visitors pass on the way to Yellowstone National Park and its abundant wildlife and thermal features. The showcasing of spectacular scenery and the western way of life the area received from films set nearby, such as A River Runs Through It and The Horse Whisperer, have also served to draw people to the area.

Montana History Of Toole County

We can't say cowboys originated from Montana,but we can say if you're wondering where the history of cowboys are still alive today in the real.Then welcome to Toole County Montana.A beautiful part of the state rich in history,and heritage.

Toole County History & Heritage

If you don't know where Toole County is,it's in the state of Montana in the north,to almost north-east part of the state.A quick google search will help you zero in on its location.We were established as a county in 1914,and today we have a population of about 5300 residents.

Toole County was named after our first govener Joesph K. Toole.

The communities we'll cover here in the county will be Shelby,Kevin,Sunburst,Naismith,and Sweet Grass.The history is just as intriguing as the heritage up this way,and if you plan on visiting Montana someday,your trip wouldn't be complete without investigating Toole County.So go out of the way if you have to.You'll never forget the learning experience after a visit.

Obviously the history goes way back before the white settlers laid down their roots here in the county.From the Native Americans,to the fossil records before them when Dinosaurs roamed the Earth.The Native Americans in the area helped in both world wars by helping with their native language creating unbreakable codes for the military.You'll learn more about this fascinating part of history at the Marias Museum in Shelby.A couple of the tribes in the area were the Blackfeet,and the Crow.The history from these two tribes alone makes our county one of the most fascinating places to visit in the U.S.

So it's very difficult to sum up the history of our county in just a website alone.We're a history book in the making,and the heritage that goes along with this history will be some of the most fascinating you'll ever read.

So we'll be brief,but believe us when we try to keep the time line small unlike the true nature of the things that did take place here over a long period of time.

Many think the time line starts in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase,with the 1806 expedition led by Captain Meriwether Lewis.They were investigating the Maria River in hoping to lay down reliable fur trade routes,but their expedition faced hostile reaction to the Native Americans in the area,and with incidents that occurred they never came back.Not out of a sense of failure,but more to the difficulties in such an untamed region with the obstacles one would face adventuring into unknown territory.

Later on in 1846 Fort Lewis was established,and renamed Fort Benson a few years later.Here the Blackfeet,and many other tribes in the region traded their good that included buffalo robes,and various other furs that were in high demand.So in many ways this fort was also known for its commerce.We could not begin to tell you the amount of history Fort Benson has to offer.

Indian Artifacts Found In Toole County

Not long after that the railroad started making its way to the county.General Isaac Stevens was in charge of the survey project,and laid out the route for the northern railroad from St Paul to Puget Sound in Washington State.This took place between 1853-1855.As you can imagine,this really opened up the territory to the outside world,but that was about it.The door was open to the wild frontier,and it took many years before many took advantage of it.

Some years later the Whoop-Up Trail was something of notoriety between Fort Benton and Alberta Canada.A well known smuggling route,not to mention a very lawless region where much history took place.

In 1885 gold was discovered in the Sweetgrass Hills,that happened to be very sacred land to the Blackfoot Indians.At this very same time friction was building between the Indians & the Wolfers.The "Wolfers" were those who didn't strike it rich,and had to fall back on wolf hunting.Hunting for the hides,and later on for the bounty itself trying to eradicate them,and that they did.From Montana to Texas,the Wolfers just about accomplished making the wolf population of history,just about driving them extinct.A peace treaty was signed between the U.S. Government & The Blackfoot putting an end to the battles & encounters between the two.A year later the Blackfoot sold the land to the U.S. Government,and white settlers arrived trying their luck with livestock which gave them a living,and a living that was hard work none the less,but they paid dearly for their struggles in this wild part of the U.S.In many ways it still is today.

Montana Enters The Union 1889 (41st State)

The next 10 years the railroads open up the county,the first school is built,and a post office opens up.Can you imagine the wilderness at that time in Montana.This all may sound like a part of the country opening up slowly due to the wild nature of the region.Make no "sound" about it.This was the last of the wild frontier,and rumors would swirl around the country for the next 30 years,that the U.S. Cavalry was still fighting the Indians here.There is some truth to that,but keep in mind there was fighting among the settlers as well.

Not long after we became a state,those seeking a new life made their way to Montana to homestead.Things have not changed here a whole lot since then,and in some ways those who reside here still feel we're living history,and that the past runs through our veins.

Cemetery Information

There are 6 cemeteries in Toole County.In reality there are grave sites ,and Native American burial grounds located through out the county.If you're doing genealogy research on tombstones,you very well could run into some frustration when trying to locate a past relatives tombstone.

Here are the cemeteries in the county,and some of these graveyards are historic sites as well.

Galata Cemetery,Gold Butte,Omholt,Shelby,Sunburst,and Toole County Cemetery.There are no lists compiled of who's all buried at each particular cemetery,but the historical society is in the works on creating one,that should be available to the public this fall.

Further Reading..Museums & Heritage

Marias Museum Located at 12th & 1st Street North Montana

1st Street North Shelby, MT 59474 (406) 424-2551

There is a museum in Shelby that is really full of interesting facts,and artifacts regarding the Toole. It's called Marias Museum.There are some fascinating Indian Artifacts that we recommend you see.If the kids are with,they will also very much enjoy the dinosaur bones,and various other fossils they have on display.The antiques will amaze you and this museum is a learning experience for the whole family to enjoy.

Various rooms at this museum are set up as displays,like almost walking back in time.From a homestead kitchen,to the dentist office.A parlor,a school room,to a barber shop.

History on the railroad,and the oil industry.

Genealogy and Surnames

We are in the process of working on a Surname list for the county.However we need permission,and some residents prefer their privacy.So we hope to really add some family trees to the site,and throw some names out of those who once resided here in the county of Toole.

We will also be adding the heritage that was passed along,because some of the residents here in the county have been doing the same occupation for three generations.So the heritage up this way goes hand in hand with a family's genealogy.

If you'd like to contact us with questions,or something you'd like to see on the site.Please feel free to write.

Research Links Toole County

The are some links that may be of help to you if you're looking into the history,heritage,and genealogy of Toole County.

Here is a very interesting link with stories,and some indepth not only on the heritage of Toole County,but an amazing source of history as well.

Native American Thoughts

On The Sweetgrass Hills

"The Sweet Grass Hills possess special significance to the Blackfeet Indians,and to other tribes on The Northern Great Plains.

According to legend,the creator Napi fashioned the hills in the dim past out of rocks left over from the formation of The Rocky Mountains.

Napi liked his creation so much that the hills became a favored resting place of the old trickster.

Located in the heart of a fertile bison hunting ground.

The hills served as a vantage point for game and as a lookout for enemies tresspassing in Blackfeet territory.

Because of their isolation and connection with the creation of the Earth,they have deep cultural significance to the Blackfeet as a spiritual refuge where teenage boys made vision quests to help guide them into adulthood.

Many of the Blackfeet's traditional stories take place in,and around the hills.

One of those involves the hero Kutoyis who sought to rid the world of evil in the early history of the world.

It was in the Sweet Grass Hills that Kutoyis defeated Lizard,or Frog Man after an epic battle that lasted many days.

The Blackfeet pay tribute to his memory by naming the hills Kutoyisiks in his honor.

We'll be adding more interesting facts,and stories on the history & heritage of Toole County Montana.