History of Montana

The U.S. State of Montana (MT) was admitted as the 41st state of the union on November 8th, 1889.  Indigenous tribes and Native Americans inhabited the land that comprises modern-day MT for thousands of years.  The United States of America eventually purchased much of the land in 1803 as a part of the Louisiana Purchase.  American, French, and British traders saw the area suitable for trade and set up a substantial fur trade in the area.  Throughout the next fifty years, trade flowed through the territory and included the local Native American tribes.  Eventually, in the 1850s, people began to move into the area, searching for gold.  In 1852, gold was struck near present-day Garrison.  From there, the MT gold rush drew more people to the region searching for gold, silver, and copper.

The MT Territory was officially established in 1864, combining parts of the Oregon Territory, the Washington Territory, the Idaho Territory, and the Dakota Territory, respectively.  However, as more people began to pour into the region, conflicts with the Native American population were provoked more frequently.  This led the U.S. Army to establish Camp Cooke in 1866 to protect the growing population and for Fort Benton along the Missouri River.  Several famous skirmishes between Americans and Native Americans took place in the subsequent years, such as the Battle of Little Bighorn and the Battle of Bearpaw.

While the gold rush profit remained unsustainable, the new inhabitants of the MT Territory shifted to cattle ranching.  This became a staple of MT’s economy and history.  When the railroad came through in the late 1800s, easy access was given to those looking to take advantage of the Homestead Act.  Although farmers came in small numbers, they looked to start a new life in the MT Territory.  After several failed attempts at statehood, MT was officially admitted to the union in 1889.


As of a 2015 estimation by the United States Census Bureau, the population of Montana stands at 1,032,949, with the largest population in the Billings metropolitan area.  MT is famous for its sublime landscape and worldly beauty.  The state is home to the world-renowned Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park, both of which attract millions of tourists each year, contributing significantly to the state’s economy.

MT’s economy is built heavily around agriculture and grain farming.  However, in recent years, MT has expanded into the health care and service industries.  In addition, MT also boasts a very strong lumber industry.

MT is the 4th largest of the fifty states in terms of area and the 7th least populated.  In addition, MT is the 3rd most sparsely populated.  The majority of the landscape is made up of vast mountain ranges and tall peaks.  Seventy-seven of the ranges are identified as part of the Rocky Mountains.

Throughout its history, MT has developed a natural attraction to artists and photographers for its majestic landscape.  In addition, many authors have written about life in MT and have found inspiration in the lifestyle that MT warrants.