Montana Facts
Montana Facts

25 Splendrous Montana Facts

James Israelsen
By James Israelsen, Associate Writer
Published August 23, 2021
  • Montana is home to around 70,000 Native Americans and eight Native Nations.[3]
  • Montana is the fourth largest state in the United States, after Alaska, Texas, and California. Despite its size, it has the third lowest population density of any state.[8]
  • Many of the frontiersmen who settled Montana were prospectors looking for gold. The mineral richness of the land earned it the nickname the "Treasure State."[8]
  • Many large animals call Montana home: grizzly bears, moose, bighorn sheep, and bison, to name a few.[8]
  • Roughly 30% of Montana is public land, the 12th highest percentage among the US states.[6]
  • Montana's capital city of Helena was founded as a mining town in 1864, when four miners struck gold in "Last Chance Gultch." Downtown Helena's main street is named after the gultch.[5]
  • Called the "Crown of the Continent," Montana's Glacier National Park contains some of the most pristine vistas in North America and boasts over 700 miles of hiking trails.[2]
  • From 1888 to 1898, a group of African American soldiers known as the "Buffalo Soldiers" helped protect Montana settlements from Native American attacks.[1]
  • Montana Black History
    The natives they fought gave the cavalrymen their nickname

  • The famous "Battle of the Little Bighorn" was fought in 1876 in the Montana Territory. The battle was between US federal troops and a group of Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne Native Americans.[7]
  • In the 1890s, black Montanan soldiers formed the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps to test the viability of bike-mounted soldiers.[1][11]
  • In a letter to his son, A.B. Guthrie wrote about the vastness of the Montana sky. His son, A.B. Guthrie Jr., would set one of the state's nicknames, "Big Sky Country," with his novel of the same name.[4]
  • Standing under the big sky I feel free.

    - A.B. Guthrie

  • The first woman elected to the US Congress was Missoula, Montana, native Jeannette Rankin, in 1916.[6]
  • Montana's Gallatin River is the site of the famous fly-fishing scene in the movie A River Runs Through It.[6]
  • Montana is the only US state with a "triple divide," where three drainage basins meet. Water from Montana flows to both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and the Hudson Bay.[6]
  • Little Big Horn
    Little Big Horn ended on what is now called "Last Stand Hill"
  • The end of the Battle of the Little Bighorn is also called "Custer's Last Stand." The loss caused anger among white Americans and helped precipitate more violence against native tribes and the eventual confinement of many native peoples on reservations.[7]
  • The US troops in the Battle of the Little Bighorn were led by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, while the Native American fighters were led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. The victory of the native tribes against the US soldiers was the largest single victory by Native Americans in the Plains Indians War.[7]
  • Montana's state motto is "Oro y Plata," which is Spanish for "Gold and Silver," a reference to its prospecting days.[4][6]
  • The largest recorded snowflake, measuring 15 inches in diamater, fell in Montana.[6]
  • Montana boasts more native mammal species than any other US state.[6]
  • One of only 15 intact Tyrannosaurus Rex skeletons ever found, nicknamed "Tufts-Love Rex," was unearthed in Hell's Creek, Montana, in 2016.[6]
  • Montana Grizzly Bears
    Don't forget the bear spray
  • Montana's state animal is the grizzly bear. Its state bird is the western meadowlark, and its state fish is the blackspotted cutthroat trout.[6]
  • Montana Yogo sapphires are rare gemstones from the state's Yogo Gulch. They were discovered accidentally by a gold prospector named Jake Hoover in the late 1800s.[10]
  • Montana became the 41st US state in 1889.[8]
  • Early settlers of the Montana Territory often formed vigilante groups to take care of horse and cattle thieves.[4]
  • Montanans Norman Jeff Holter and Bruce Del Mar invented the heart monitor in 1962.[9]
  • Fun Montana INFOGRAPHIC
    Montana Infographic Thumbnail

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