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.

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.

When it comes to the more notable facts on Montana history, it's important to note that Montana officially became a U.S. territory in 1864 and an official U.S. state on November 8, 1889. After almost a century of immense change, which included the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn, Montana was poised to move in a new direction. White settlers arrived in numbers, and sheep and cattle ranches quickly sprung up. The new railroad lines that crossed the state also helped to usher in a new era by the late 1800s and early 1900s. Farming, or agriculture if you prefer, is still a main industry in Montana, and ever since the 1970s, tourism has been as well. Historical sites like the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument and the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site are just two of the historical attractions that help to encourage Montana tourism. There are plenty of great places to gain insight into the history of Montana throughout the state, so including historical sites on your itinerary won't be hard.

Compare Travel Sites and Save!

Helena Montana

Helena

A rich history, a booming cultural scene, and 43 city parks are just some...

Montana Forum

Wisdom Winterfest 2016

Wisdom Winterfest will be held in the town of Wisdom from Feb. 27 and 28, and will feature skijor...

cycling tour at Glacier

Trek Travel is adding a 5-night cycling tour at Glacier National Park to commemorate the park...

More Forum Posts »