Montana is the only state in this country where you can see more golden eagles during a single day than anywhere else in the US. It also has more cattle than people, one of the world’s largest collections of dinosaur fossils, and more grizzly bears than any other state, except Alaska.
Montana is nicknamed Big Sky Country because of its majestic mountains, vast open prairies, and big blue skies. In 1889, it became the 41st state to join the Union. The state is bordered by the country of Canada to the north and four US states: Wyoming on its southern border, North Dakota and South Dakota to its east. Do you know which state borders it to the west? Here’s a clue: this state is known for its potatoes!
What really happened
- People first came to this area about 12,600 years ago. Thousands of years later, Native Americans lived on the land. They were descendants of people who had lived in the region for centuries. Some of these groups or tribes included the: Cheyenne, Blackfeet, Crow, and Kalispell.
- The first Europeans who came here were French fur traders in the 1700s. They traded with the Native Americans for beaver furs. Over the next several years, the land was claimed by both the French and Spanish.
- Six states – Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma – along with parts of eight other states – Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming – were under French control. But in 1803, the US bought this region from the French. This famous deal became known as the Louisiana Purchase. This land deal DOUBLED the size of the US!
- In 1805, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark passed through this region on their famous expedition through the American West. The expedition stopped at Travelers Rest in Lolo, Montana. This is the only site that has physical proof that these explorers stayed there.
- Between 1848 and 1864, parts of the state were included in a number of S. territories, including the Oregon Territory, Washington Territory, Dakota Territory, and the Idaho Territory. In 1864, the Montana Territory was established.
- The discovery of gold attracted many miners to the area in the 1860s. Towns called boomtowns popped up quickly, filled with people searching for gold; but when the gold ran out, many of the people left.
- In the 1880s, the railroad arrived in Montana bringing even more growth to the state. Cattle ranching had also become a large industry and farming grew as a result of homesteading in the area.
- In 1889, Montana was admitted to the Union as the 41st
- Montana is the first state in the United States to elect a woman to Congress. Montana native, Jeannette Rankin, served from 1917-1919 and again from 1941-1943.
Stuff you should know
- Yellowstone National Park in southern Montana and northern Wyoming was this country’s first national park. Yellowstone is larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined, has about 290 waterfalls, and boasts roughly 1,000 miles of hiking trails.
- The state has one of the world’s largest collections of dinosaur fossils. The Museum of the Rockies alone has 13 T-Rex specimens. What’s your favorite dinosaur?
- More than five US states can fit into Montana: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
- It isthe only state in the country to share a land border that crosses three provinces in a country called Canada. These provinces are British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Crazy, funny or just plain weird
- Loma, Montana holds the world record for the biggest temperature change in 24 hours. On January 14-15, 1972, the temperature moved from -54°F to 49°F. That’s a whopping 103-degree difference!
- In 2015, a black bear decided to go to school. He walked into Bozeman High School before school started. Luckily, the bear left before students arrived, unharmed and uncaptured. We’re unsure about the post-visit state of the cafeteria.
- Flathead Lake is hiding a monster. Many people have reported seeing a large eel-shaped creature in Flathead Lake, similar to the Loch Ness Monster. Is it the same kind of creature? Are there many of them?
- Montana is a hotspot for UFO sightings: In 1967, security and maintenance crews at Great Falls Air Force Base (now called Malmstrom Air Force Base) reported seeing UFOs hovering throughout the night. Likewise, an area in the state called Redgate has had so much UFO activity that a movie was named after it by the same name.
- In January 1887, the largest snowflake ever observed was seen in Fort Keogh, Montana. This snowflake had an incredible diameter of 15 inches!
- Yellowstone National Park experiences 1,000 to 3,000 earthquakes each year and is also home to super volcanoes.
- According to state law, single women can’t go fishing! However, if you’re married, you can fish, but never alone on Sundays!
Tell me more
- Montana’s name comes from the Spanish word montaña, roughly meaning “mountainous.” The state has at least 300 peaks over 9,600 feet tall!
- The state has the biggest variety of mammals in the entire country. Some of the animals who live here include: elk, bison, grizzly bears and buffaloes. Let’s not forget moose – approximately 8,000 call this state home.
- During World War II, almost 30 Japanese balloons, called balloon bombs, landed in Montana. They were supposed to start forest fires. However, none ever caused any damage or injury.
- Many things were invented in this state by Montanans (people who live here): a bottle opener, blender, LED Light, laptop stand, cutting board, USB charger, Bluetooth speaker, and even a heart monitor.
- Likewise, Maurice Hillman of Montana discovered over a dozen vaccines, some of which you probably have taken, such as vaccines for mumps and measles.
- Montana has its own version of oatmeal called Cream of the West, a roasted wheat cereal that local families have been eating since 1914.
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