Montana History

By | October 15, 2021

Montana is a state in the northwestern United States. It borders North Dakota to the east, South Dakota to the southeast, Wyoming to the south, Idaho to the west, and Canada to the north. The state is known for its beautiful nature. There are about 950,000 people living in Montana, whose capital is called Helena.

Montana has no really big cities, the largest is Billings with approx. 90,000 residents. Most cities of a certain size are located in the mountains to the west. Montana has one of the lowest population densities in the United States.

Glacier National Park has over 350 locations on the National Register of Historic Places. See directoryaah for museums in Montana.

The first humans in Montana were nomadic Indians, who subsisted by hunting bison and other animals as well as by harvesting wild plants.


1743 – Pierre De la Verendyre discovers the Rocky Mountains.

1850s – Large areas of the state were explored by French fur hunters, and the Lewis and Clark expedition discovered that there were deposits of gold and copper in the area. Lewis and Clark were also the first to make official records of the area, they sailed up the rivers, and especially the Missouri River was of great importance to the expedition.

1862 – The town of Bannack, named after the local Bannock Indians, was founded after a giant gold find was made. The city was the temporary capital of the Montana Territory in 1864 until it was moved to Virginia City, which was founded the following year. The city continued its mining business, but with fewer residents, shrinking each year until the 1970s, when the city was abandoned and is today a ghost town. It is also rumored that at times one will be able to experience ghosts on the spot.

1863 – Virginia City, today considered the most complete original city in the United States, was founded and made the capital.

1864 – The infamous criminal, Henry Plummer, sheriff of the town of Bannack in his final year, was hanged without trial for being the leader of a criminal organization called the ” Montana Vigilantes ” responsible for about 100 murders. He was hanged along with 23 others for their crimes. The irony of his murder was that he was hanged by the same criminals he was suspected of being a part of.

That same year, the mining town of Butte was established at Summit Valley.

1872 – America’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park, is founded. 94% of the park is located in the northwest corner of the state of Wyoming and the rest in Idaho and Montana. There are five entrances to this park, three from the state of Montana and two from Wyoming. At the south entrance there is a connection to and from another national park, Grand Teton National Park.

1876 – On June 25, Montana’s most famous battle takes place at Little Bighorn. Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his 197 men from the United States’ 7th Cavalry fell in battle against the Sioux people (the Lakota tribe and their allies, including the Cheyenne tribe), in less than 20 minutes. See the place on Gogle Maps here. Watch a 25 min long documentary on Youtube here. Watch clips from the tourist place Little Boghorn here.

1887 – The largest snowflake ever, documented on January 28, was 38 cm wide!

1889 – Montana formally becomes the 41st state of the United States on November 8th.

1890 – Sitting Bull, who had taken part in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, lived a peaceful life in Canada on a reservation. Although he was not directly responsible for a new religious movement, he was nevertheless held accountable by the whites, who put the internal Native American police to arrest him, but Sitting Bull put himself on the defensive, which resulted in him being shot and killed by one of the cops.

1917-23 – Montana was hit by severe drought, which led to approx. 65,000 moved away from the state and sent the economy into an economic crisis. The state was therefore hit relatively less by the Great Depression in the United States in the 1930s, and conditions were somewhat improved by the New Deal programs.

1926 – Charles M. Russell, better known as the “Cowboy Artist,” is known for his over 2,000 paintings of cowboys, Indians, and landscapes from the Old West of the United States and in Alberta, Canada. He was also a storyteller and author. He died in Great Falls, October 24, at the age of 62. His works can be seen today in the Charles M. Russell Museum Complex.

1935 – The earthquake with epicenter near Helena, occurred on October 18, with 4 deaths and 2 more on October 31.

1943 – 70 coal miners are killed in a disaster at the Smith mine.

1950 – UFO MYTH: On August 15, one of the first filming of UFOs was filmed in Great Falls. The film was analyzed by the US Air Force, which confirmed that there were 2 jet fighters flying over the area at the specified time. Nick Mariana, who had filmed them, said that an important part of the recording was missing, namely that the “UFOs” rotated like plates. This was backed by several witnesses before the film was passed on to the Air Force, who denied the allegations, saying they had only removed a single image from the film that had been damaged in the analysis. Watch an excerpt from the rare documentary “UFO” from 1956 about the case here.

1959 – An earthquake on Hebgen Lake on August 17 causes a landslide that kills more than 28 people and forms Quake Lake.

1960s – The United States’ Minuteman program, whose name comes from General Washington’s militiamen who should be able to lay down their arms in a matter of minutes during the American Revolution. was founded on the outskirts of Great Falls. Malmstrom Air Force Base established the first Minuteman I missiles (1962), which were upgraded to Mark II in 1965 and Mark III in 1970. The missiles are fired from an underground silo and reach a maximum speed just above mach 23 (approx. 24,000 km / h.) The altitude is about 11000 m. The modernized version of the missile is planned to be in use until and after 2030. The current number of Minuteman III silos around Malmstrom AFB, Montana; Minot AFB, North Dakota ; and FE Warren AFB, Wyoming, consists of 450 missile silos.

1961 – Virginia City and the area are declared a National Historic Memorial. In 2010, 190 people lived in the city.

1978 – Fossils from a Maiasaura are discovered by Laurie Trexler and described by paleontologists Jack Horner and Robert Makela. He named the dinosaur after Marion Brandsvold found a nest with the remains of eggshells and babies that were too large to be newly hatched. These findings led to others, and the area became known as ” Egg Mountain “, located at the Two Medicine Formation near Choteau in western Montana. Jack Horner was later the technical advisor for the Jurassic Park films, and was also more or less used as inspiration for Dr.Alan Grant.

1980 – FILM: The famous opening scene of Stanley Kubrick’s film, The Shining, was filmed at Saint Mary Lake.

On May 18, western Montana was covered in ash from Mt. St. Helens, whose top exploded. See pictures here. Read more here. Watch video here.

1994 – 4,500 forest fires engulf 288,000 acres of land.

2000 – 1 mio. acres of land and 320 homes were destroyed by forest fires on Aug. 6 in Bitterroot Valley. See the most famous photo taken by firefighter John McColgan here.

2011 – An ExxonMobil pipeline running under the Yellowstone River near Billings leaked 1,000 barrels of oil in half an hour before closing.

Montana History