State of Montana - MT

Montana is a U.S. state in the Pacific Northwest and Great Plains regions of the United States. The central and western third of the state have numerous mountain ranges (approximately 77 named) of the northern Rocky Mountains; thus the state's name, derived from the Spanish word montaña ("mountain"). The state nickname is the "Treasure State." Other nicknames include "Land of Shining Mountains", "Big Sky Country", and the slogan "the last best place". The state ranks fourth in size but has a relatively low population (with only six states having fewer people) and consequently a very low population density. The economy is primarily based on agriculture and significant lumber and mineral extraction. Tourism is also important to the economy with millions of visitors a year to Glacier National Park, the Battle of Little Bighorn site, and three of the five entrances to Yellowstone National Park.

Missouri Breaks region in central MontanaWith a land area of 145,552 mi² (376,978 km²), the state of Montana is the fourth largest in the United States (after Alaska, Texas, and California).

To the north, Montana and Canada share a 545-mile (877 km) portion of the world's longest undefended border. The state borders the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, more provinces than any other state. To the east, the state borders North Dakota and part of South Dakota. To the south is Wyoming and about a mile of South Dakota, and on the west and southwest is Idaho.

The topography of the state is diverse, but roughly defined by the Continental Divide, which runs on an approximate diagonal through the state from north to southwest, splitting it into two distinct eastern and western regions. Montana is well known for its mountainous western region, part of the northern Rocky Mountains. However, about 60% of the state is actually prairie, part of the northern Great Plains. Nonetheless, even east of the Continental Divide and the Rocky Mountain Front, there are a number of isolated "Island Ranges" that dot the prairie landscape. The entire state contains approximately 77 named mountain ranges.

St. Mary's Lake in Glacier National ParkThe Bitterroot Mountains, which form most of the western boundary of the state, with the southern third of the range blending into the Continental Divide. Mountain ranges between the Bitterroots and the top of the Continental Divide include the Cabinet Mountains, the Missions, the Garnet, Sapphire, Flint Creek, and Pintlar ranges.

The northern section of the Divide, where the mountains give way rapidly to prairie, is known collectively as the Rocky Mountain Front. East of the Divide, several parallel ranges march across the southern half of the state, including the Gravelly Range, the Tobacco Roots, the Madison Range, Gallatin Range, Big Belt Mountains, Bridger Mountains, Absaroka Range and Beartooth Mountains. The Beartooth Plateau is the largest continuous land mass over 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in the lower 48 states and contains the highest point in the state, Granite Peak, 12,799 feet (3,901 m) high.

Between the Mountain ranges are many scenic valleys, rich in agricultural resources, rivers and possessing multiple opportunities for tourism and recreation. Among the best-known areas are the Flathead Valley, Bitterroot Valley, Big Hole Valley, and Gallatin Valley.

East and north of this transition zone are expansive sparsely populated Northern Plains, with rolling tableland prairies, "island" mountain ranges, and scenic badlands extending into the Dakotas, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Wyoming. The isolated "Island" ranges east of the Divide include the Castle Mountains, Crazy Mountains, Little Belt Mountains, Snowy Mountains, Sweet Grass Hills, Bull Mountains and, in the southeastern corner of the state near Ekalaka, the Long Pines and Short Pines.

The area east of the divide in the north-central portion of the state is known for the dramatic Missouri Breaks and other significant rock formations. Three stately buttes south of Great Falls are familiar landmarks. These buttes, Square Butte, Shaw Butte, and Crown Butte, are made of igneous rock, which is dense and has withstood weathering for many years. The underlying surface consists of shale. Many areas around these buttes are covered with clay surface soils. These soils have been derived from the weathering of the Colorado Formation. Farther east, areas such as Makoshika State Park near Glendive, and Medicine Rocks State Park near Ekalaka also highlight some of the most scenic badlands regions in the state.

Montana also contains a number of rivers, many of which are known for "blue-ribbon" trout fishing, but which also provide most of the water needed by residents of the state, as well as being a source of hydropower. Montana is the only state in the union whose rivers form parts of three major North American watersheds: The Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and Hudson Bay.

West of the divide, the Clark Fork of the Columbia (not to be confused with the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River) rises in the Rocky Mountains near Butte, flows west toward Missoula where it is joined by the Blackfoot River and the Bitterroot River and turns to the northwest, entering Idaho just above Lake Pend Oreille, becoming part of the Columbia River, which flows to the Pacific Ocean. The Clark Fork discharges the greatest volume of water of any river exiting the state. The Flathead River and Kootenai River also drain major portions of the western half of the state.

East of the divide, the Missouri River, formed by the confluence of the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin rivers, crosses the central part of the state, flows through the Missouri breaks and enters North Dakota. The Yellowstone River rises in Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, flows north to Livingston, Montana, where it then turns east and flows across the state until it joins the Missouri River a few miles east of the North Dakota boundary. The Yellowstone River is the longest undammed, free-flowing river in North America. Other major Montana tributaries of the Missouri include the Milk, Marias, Tongue, and Musselshell Rivers. Montana also claims the disputed title of possessing the "world's shortest river", the Roe River, just outside Great Falls, Montana. These rivers ultimately join the Mississippi River and flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

Due to the configuration of mountain ranges in Glacier National Park, the Northern Divide (which begins in the Seward Peninsula) crosses this region and turns east in Montana at Triple Divide Peak. Thus, the Waterton, Belly, and Saint Mary Rivers flow north into Alberta, Canada joining the Saskatchewan River, and ultimately emptying into Hudson Bay.

Water is of critical importance to the state for both agriculture and hydropower. In addition to its rivers, the state is home to Flathead Lake, the largest natural fresh-water lake west of the Great Lakes. Man-made reservoirs dot Montana's rivers, the largest of which is Fort Peck Reservoir, on the Missouri river, contained by the largest earth-filled dam in the world.

Vegetation of the state includes ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, larch, fir, spruce, aspen, birch, red cedar, ash, alder, rocky mountain maple and cottonwood trees. Forests cover approximately 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 are also found in the state.

Montana contains Glacier National Park and portions 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, Big Hole National Battlefield, Lewis and Clark Caverns, and the National Bison Range. Montana has eight National Forests and over 20 National Wildlife Refuges. The Federal government administers 36,000,000 acres (146,000 km²). 275,000 acres (1,100 km²) are administered as state parks and forests.

Areas managed by the National Park Service include:

Big Hole National Battlefield near Wisdom
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area near Fort Smith
Glacier National Park
Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site at Deer Lodge, Montana
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument near Crow Agency
Nez Perce National Historical Park
Yellowstone National Park
Several Indian reservations are located in Montana: Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, Crow Indian Reservation, Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, Blackfeet Indian Reservation, and the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Adjacent states
British Columbia of Canada - northwest
Alberta of Canada - north
Saskatchewan of Canada - northeast
North Dakota - east
South Dakota - southeast
Wyoming - south
Idaho - west to southwest

Montana counties, List of Montana rivers

Main article: History of Montana

Native Americans were the first inhabitants of Montana. Groups 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 were found around Flathead Lake and the western mountains, respectively.

Subsequent to the Lewis and Clark expedition and after the finding of gold and copper (see the Copper Kings) in the state in the late 1850s, Montana became a United States territory (Montana Territory) on May 26, 1864 and the 41st state on November 8, 1889.

Fort Shaw (Montana Territory) was established in the spring of 1867. It is located west of Great Falls in the Sun River Valley and was one of three posts authorized to be built by Congress in 1865. The other two posts in the Montana Territory were Camp Cooke on the Judith River and Fort C.F. Smith on the Bozeman Trail in south central Montana Territory. Fort Shaw, named after Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who commanded the 54th Massachusetts, one of the first all African-American regiments, during the American Civil War, was built of adobe and lumber by the 13th Infantry. The fort had a parade ground that was 400 ft² (120 m²), and consisted of barracks for officers, a hospital, and a trading post, and could house up to 450 soldiers. Completed in 1868, it was used by military personnel until 1891.

After the close of the military post, the government established Fort Shaw as a school to provide industrial training to young Native Americans. The Fort Shaw Indian Industrial School was opened on April 30, 1892. The school had at one time 17 faculty members, 11 Indian assistants and 300 students. The school made use of over 20 of the buildings built by the Army.

The revised Homestead Act of the early 1900s greatly affected the settlement of Montana. This act expanded the land that was provided by the Homestead Act of 1862 from 160 acres to 320 acres (65-130 ha). When the latter act was signed by President Taft, it also reduced the time necessary to prove up from five years to three years and permitted five months absence from the claim each year.

In 1908, the Sun River Irrigation Project, west of Great Falls was opened up for homesteading. Under this Reclamation Act, a person could obtain 40 acres (16 ha). Most of the people who came to file on these homesteads were young couples who were eager to live near the mountains where hunting and fishing were good. Many of these homesteaders came from the Midwest and Minnesota.

Montana was the scene of the Native Americans' last effort to keep their land, and the last stand of U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer was fought near the present day town of Hardin. Montana was also the location of the final battles of the Nez Perce Wars.

Cattle ranching has long been central to Montana's history and economy. The Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Deer Lodge Valley is maintained as a link to the ranching style of the late 19th century. It is operated by the National Park Service but is also a 1,900-acre (7.7 km²) working ranch.

Historical populations
year Population


1870 20,595
1880 39,159
1890 142,924
1900 243,329
1910 376,053
1920 548,889
1930 537,606
1940 559,456
1950 591,024
1960 674,767
1970 694,409
1980 786,690
1990 799,065
2000 902,195
2005 Estimate 935,670
Montana Population Density MapAs of 2005, Montana has an estimated population of 935,670, which is an increase of 8,750, or 0.9%, from the prior year and an increase of 33,475, or 3.7%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 13,674 people (that is 58,001 births minus 44,327 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 21,074 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 2,141 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 18,933 people. 16,500 of state residents are foreign-born, accounting for 1.8% of the total population.

The state ranks fourth in size at 147,000 mi² (381,000 km²) but has a relatively low population (with only six states having fewer people) and consequently a very low population density.

Demographics of Montana (csv)
By race White Black AIAN Asian NHPI
AIAN is American Indian or Alaskan Native - NHPI is Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
2000 (total population) 92.79% 0.50% 7.36% 0.79% 0.12%
2000 (hispanic only) 1.74% 0.05% 0.28% 0.04% 0.01%
2005 (total population) 92.52% 0.62% 7.47% 0.82% 0.11%
2005 (hispanic only) 2.22% 0.07% 0.23% 0.03% 0.01%
Growth 2000-2005 (total population) 3.42% 28.09% 5.19% 7.11% -4.46%
Growth 2000-2005 (non-hispanic only) 2.87% 25.58% 5.91% 8.07% -0.82%
Growth 2000-2005 (hispanic only) 31.85% 52.36% -13.46% -13.52% -39.22%

While German ancestry is the largest reported European-American ancestry in most of Montana, residents of Scandinavian ancestry are prevalent in some of the farming-dominated northern and eastern prairie regions. There are also several predominantly Native American counties, mostly around each of the seven Indian reservations. The historically mining-oriented communities of western Montana have a wider range of ethnic groups, particularly people of Eastern European and Irish-American ancestry, as well as people who originally emigrated from British mining regions such as Cornwall. Montana is second only to South Dakota in U.S. Hutterite population with several colonies spread across the state. Many of Montana's historic logging communities originally attracted people of Scandinavian and Scotch-Irish descent. Montana's Hispanic population is particularly concentrated around the Billings area in south-central Montana, and the highest density of African-Americans is located in Great Falls.

The religious affiliations of the people of Montana:

Christian – 82%
Protestant – 55%
Lutheran – 15%
Methodist – 8%
Baptist – 5%
Presbyterian – 4%
United Church of Christ – 2%
Other Protestant or general Protestant – 21%
Roman Catholic – 24%
LDS (Mormon) – 3%
Other Religions – <1%
Non-Religious – 18%

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Montana's total state product in 2003 was $26 billion. Per capita personal income in 2003 was $25,406, 47th in the nation. However, this number is rapidly increasing. According to the Missoulian, the economy has grown rapidly since 2003; in 2005, Montana ranked 39th in the nation with an average per capita personal income of $29,387.

The economy is primarily based on agriculture--wheat, barley, sugar beets, oats, rye, seed potatoes, honey, cherries, cattle and sheep ranching--and significant lumber and mineral extraction (gold, coal, silver, talc, and vermiculite). Tourism is also important to the economy with millions of 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.

Montana personal income tax contains 7 brackets, with rates ranging from 1% to 6.9%. Montana has no sales tax. In Montana, 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.

Major highways include:

Interstate 15
Interstate 90
Interstate 94
U.S. Highway 2
U.S. Highway 212
U.S. Highway 93
In addition, Amtrak's "Empire Builder" train runs through the north of the state, stopping in the following towns: Libby, Whitefish, West Glacier, Essex, East Glacier Park, Browning, Cut Bank, Shelby, Havre, Malta, Glasgow, and Wolf Point.

Law and government
See: List of Montana Governors

The current Governor is Brian Schweitzer (Democrat) who was sworn in on January 3, 2005. Its two U.S. senators are Max Baucus (Democrat) and Conrad Burns (Republican). Montana's congressional representative is Denny Rehberg (Republican).

The state was the first to elect a female member of Congress (Jeannette Rankin), and was one of the first states to give women voting rights (see suffrage). Despite its sizable American Indian population, Montana is one of the most homogenous states — nearly 90% of its residents are of European descent, with a large number of immigrants of German, Irish, Norwegian, Welsh, Cornish, Italian, Slovak and Scandinavian heritage arriving in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A significant portion of Chinese (Cantonese) immigrants also came and left an indelible mark on the state, especially in the mining cities of Helena, Butte, and Anaconda.

Historically, Montana was a Swing state of cross-ticket voters with a tradition of sending "conservatives to Helena (the state capital) and liberals to Washington." However, there have also been long-term shifts of party control. During the 1970s, 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 and sent a Republican to the U.S. Senate for the first time since the 1940s. 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 houses of the state legislature, consolidating a party dominance that lasted until 2004. The state last supported a Democrat for president in 1992, Bill Clinton's first election.

Thus, in recent years, Montana has been classified as a Republican-leaning state, and the state supported President George W. Bush by a wide margin in 2000 and 2004. However, since the 2000 reapportionment plan went into effect in 2004, Democrats have fared better. The state currently has a Democratic governor (Brian Schweitzer), elected in 2004 and a Democrat-controlled state legislature. In addition, incumbent Republican Senator Conrad Burns faces a tough fight for reelection against Democratic State Senate President Jon Tester in the 2006 election.

Montana is an Alcoholic beverage control state.

Important cities and towns
Billings skyline & Sacrifice Cliff, 2005Some of the cities in Montana are:

Great Falls

Some of the major towns in Montana are:

Columbia Falls
Cut Bank
Deer Lodge
Miles City


Colleges and universities
The state-funded Montana University System consists of:

Montana State University - Bozeman
Montana State University - Billings
Montana State University - Northern - Havre
University of Montana - Missoula
Montana Tech of the University of Montana - Butte
University of Montana Western - Dillon
University of Montana - Helena College of Technology
Flathead Valley Community College
Dawson Community College
Miles Community College
Major Tribal Colleges in Montana include:

Little Big Horn College
Fort Peck Community College or Ft. Peck Community College
Salish Kootenai College
Stone Child College
Major Private Colleges and Universities include:

Carroll College
University of Great Falls
Rocky Mountain College

Professional sports teams
The Minor League baseball teams are:

Missoula Osprey
Great Falls White Sox
Helena Brewers
Billings Mustangs

Miscellaneous topics
The state's name is derived from the Spanish word montaña ("mountain"). The state nickname is the "Treasure State." Other nicknames include "Land of Shining Mountains", "Big Sky Country", and the slogan "the last best place".

The battleship USS Montana was named in honor of the state.

The Hell Creek Formation is a major source of dinosaur fossils. Paleontologist Jack Horner, of the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana brought this formation to the world's attention with several major finds. For example, Jane was discovered in 2001 in Hell Creek and is the world's most complete juvenile tyrannosaurus rex.

In 1902, a group of female students from the Fort Shaw Indian Industrial School began playing basketball and traveled throughout Montana, defeating high school teams and some college teams. In 1904, the girls' basketball team traveled by train to the St. Louis World's Fair. Over a period of five months, the team was challenged by numerous other basketball teams and won every contest, returning to Fort Shaw with the "world champion" trophy. On May 1, 2004, a monument in honor of the basketball team was unveiled at the entrance of the present-day Fort Shaw Elementary School.

In the movie 'Star Trek: First Contact', Montana is the location of the fictitious first contact between humans and an alien race, the Vulcans. Star Trek producer Brannon Braga is originally from Bozeman, Montana.

Montana has the largest grizzly bear population in the lower 48 states.

Montana is one of two states (Pennsylvania is the other, see with a triple divide, allowing water to flow into three oceans: the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean (Gulf of Mexico), and the Arctic Ocean (Hudson Bay). This phenomenon occurs at Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park.

In 1888, Helena (the current state capital) had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the world.

Montana is one of two states in the continental United States which in addition to not having a major metropolitan area over 1,000,000 in population, also does not border a state that does have one (Maine is the other). However, it does border the Canadian Provinces Alberta(population in 2005 of 3,237,000) and British Columbia (population in 2006 of 4,292,000, which have three cities with a metro population of over 1,000,000 each.

State symbols
State flower: Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva), since 1895
State tree: Ponderosa Pine, since 1949
State animal: Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis), since 1862
State bird: Western Meadowlark, since 1931
State fish: Blackspotted Cutthroat Trout, since 1977
State Song: "Montana", since 1945
State Ballad: "Montana Melody", since 1983
State Gemstones: Yogo Sapphire & Agate
State Fossil: Duck-billed Dinosaur (Maiasaura peeblesorum), since 1985
State Butterfly: Mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), since 2001
State Grass: Bluebunch Wheatgrass, since 1973
State Motto: "Oro y Plata" (Spanish: Gold and Silver)

Ski areas
Montana has several ski areas including:

Bear Paw Ski Bowl near Havre, Montana
Big Mountain near Whitefish
Big Sky Resort near Big Sky, Montana
Blacktail near Lakeside
Bridger Bowl Ski Area near Bozeman
Discovery Basin near Philipsburg
Great Divide near Helena, Montana
Lost Trail near Darby, Montana
Lookout Pass near St. Regis, Montana
Maverick Mountain near Dillon, Montana
Montana Snowbowl near Missoula
Moonlight Basin near Big Sky, Montana
Red Lodge Mountain near Red Lodge
Showdown Ski Area near White Sulphur Springs, Montana
Snowbowl Ski Area near Missoula, Montana
Turner near Libby

people from Montana
Scouting in Montana


Further reading
Bennion, Jon. Big Sky Politics. Five Valleys Publishing, April 2004. ISBN 1-888550-13-9
Lopach, James. We the People of Montana: The Workings of a Popular Government. Falcon Press, 1983 ISBN 0-87842-159-9
Kittredge, William. The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology. (From the back cover: "...over 230 stories, poems, reminiscences, and reports written by 140 men and women. The book is divided into eight sections with introductory essays by William Bevis, Mary Clearman Blew, William Kittredge, William Lang, Richard Roeder, Annick Smith, and James Welch.") University of Washington: 1990. 1158 pages. ISBN 0-295-96974-1.
Howard, Joseph Kinsey. Montana: High, Wide, and Handsome. Bison Books: 2003. ISBN 0-8032-7339-8.
Malone, Michael P., Richard B. Roeder and William L. Lang. Montana: A History of Two Centuries. University of Washington: 1991. ISBN 0-295-97129-0.
Toole, K. Ross. Montana: An Uncommon Land. University of Oklahoma: 1984. ISBN 0-8061-1890-3.
Doig, Ivan, Dancing at the Rascal Fair. Scribner: 1987. ISBN 0-689-11764-7.
Doig, Ivan, English Creek. Peter Smith Publisher Inc: 1992. ISBN 0-8446-6608-4.
MacLean, Norman, A River Runs Through It. University of Chicago Press: 1976. ISBN 0-226-50060-8.
MacLean, Norman, Young Men and Fire. University of Chicago Press: 1992. ISBN 0-226-50061-6.
Walker, Mildred. Winter Wheat. Harcourt: 1967. ISBN 0-15-197223-0.
Walter, Dave, et. al. Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Montana History. Falcon Press, 2000. ISBN 1-58592-032-0
Axline, Jon, et. al. Still Speaking Ill of the Dead: More Jerks in Montana History. Falcon Press, 2005. ISBN 1-58592-032-0
Groneberg, Tom, [ " The Secret Life of Cowboys" and "One Good Horse


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