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Montana Description

indian chief Long before European explorers traversed the plains and mountains of Montana, over a dozen American Indian tribes thrived in the region, including the Arapaho, Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Nez Perce, Shoshone and Sioux.

French explorers ventured into the area from Canada in the mid 1700's, but for the next half-century, this vast land was totally controlled by Native Americans and claimed - albeit loosely - by England, France and Spain.

In 1800, when Napoleon Bonaparte's armies moved across Europe, pressing Spain into a corner, the Territory of Louisiana (New Orleans) and a huge slice of land in the now central United States (including most of Montana) was ceded to France by Spain via a treaty.

In 1803, with war pressures mounting, Napoleon approved the sale of the entire area to the United States in a transaction named the Louisiana Purchase and the United States doubled in size almost overnight.

After the Lewis and Clark expedition wound its way up the Missouri River on its epic journey to the Pacific Ocean, the beauty and riches of this frontier wilderness spread far and wide. In short order fur trappers and settlers arrived in Montana, trading posts opened and missionaries began converting Indians to Christianity.

Cattle raising operations began to take shape, and when gold was discovered in 1862, the flood gates opened as thousands of get-rich-quick prospectors built mining camps across Montana; it was a lawless place, and gold dust was the currency of the day.

Then a part of the Idaho Territory, it officially became the Montana Territory in 1864; the railroad arrived in 1883, and the cattle and farming industries quickly prospered as routes to the eastern markets opened up.

Lt. Colonel George A. Custer "Custer's Last Stand" an 1876 bloody battle that killed Lt. Colonel George A. Custer and all 197 of his men at the Little Bighorn Battlefield was the result of the U.S. Army trying to move all of the Plains Indians to reservations. Chief Joseph and the brave (yet, over matched) Nez Perce Indians and U.S. Army troops would continue fighting across Idaho and Montana until most Indians were finally captured in late 1877.

Near the end of the 19th century (because of its successful mining industries) the population of Montana almost tripled, and the 150,000 or so residents petitioned the U.S. Congress for statehood. In 1889 it became the 41st U.S. State.

The lucrative mines in Montana produced copious amounts of gold, silver and copper, and attracted miners and speculators from around the world. The Anaconda Company, a mining consortium of smaller operations, became the most powerful corporation in Montana and the major catalyst for expanding electric power and railroads across the state.

To stimulate additional growth the U.S. Congress created Glacier National Park in 1910. During America's Great Depression (1929-1939) the federal government hired (and paid) thousands of workers to build the Fort Peck Dam, as well as providing funds for irrigation projects and the construction of highways and roads.

anaconda, montana Montana's economy was in high-gear during World War II (1941-1945), as demand for its products (especially metals) was at an all time high. That high demand eventually dropped, but the state's gas, oil, and coal industries expanded rapidly during the energy shortage in the United States in the 1970's.

In the 1980's the economy of Montana suffered as thousands of jobs were lost by a significant drop in farm and lumber revenues due to governmental restrictions and shrinking markets, and by the total shut down of the Anaconda Company's copper mining operations.

Today in this land of abundant natural resources and stunning natural wonders, there remains a healthy respect for the past and a firm commitment to the future, and all with the knowledge that there's plenty of space in Montana to make anyone's dream come true.

Montana Cities, Counties & Area Codes

City County Area Code
Dillon Beaverhead 406
Hardin Big Horn 406
Harlem Blaine 406
Townsend Broadwater 406
Red Lodge Carbon 406
Ekalaka Carter 406
Great Falls Cascade 406
Fort Benton Chouteau 406
Miles City Custer 406
Scobey Daniels 406
Glendive Dawson 406
Anaconda Deer Lodge 406
Baker Fallon 406
Lewistown Fergus 406
Kalispell Flathead 406
Bozeman Gallatin 406
Jordan Garfield 406
Browning Glacier 406
Ryegate Golden Valley 406
Philipsburg Granite 406
Havre Hill 406
Clancy Jefferson 406
Stanford Judith Basin 406
Polson Lake 406
Helena Lewis and Clark 406
Chester Liberty 406
Libby Lincoln 406
Ennis Madison 406
Circle McCone 406
White Sulphur Springs Meagher 406
Superior Mineral 406
Missoula Missoula 406
Roundup Musselshell 406
Livingston Park 406
Winnett Petroleum 406
Malta Phillips 406
Conrad Pondera 406
Broadus Powder River 406
Deer Lodge Powell 406
Terry Prairie 406
Hamilton Ravalli 406
Sidney Richland 406
Wolf Point Roosevelt 406
Lame Deer Rosebud 406
Plains Sanders 406
Plentywood Sheridan 406
Butte Silver Bow 406
Columbus Stillwater 406
Big Timber Sweet Grass 406
Choteau Teton 406
Shelby Toole 406
Hysham Treasure 406
Glasgow Valley 406
Harlowton Wheatland 406
Wibaux Wibaux 406
Billings Yellowstone 406

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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This page was last updated on July 10, 2020.