“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
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Montana Facts and Figures

Gleaned from the Historical Marker Database


on February 23, 2020

1876 artwork by Henry Mitchell, via Wikipedia Commons

 Montana ranks 36th among states and provinces with markers in this database. Montana is a state in the United States of America located in the American West. It is also in the Mountains region. Montana is some 147 thousand square miles in size with a population of around 1.1 million people. The state is divided into 56 counties and 41 of them have entries in this database. In Montana we have discovered historical markers in 121 cities and towns lying in 122 different ZIP Codes.

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How many historical markers are there in Montana? There are least 839 of them, by our count. We have cataloged 839 historical markers and 19 war memorials—each individually presented on 853 illustrated, annotated, and searchable pages of the Historical Marker Database. Our correspondents have been finding and adding hundreds of markers a month to the database from all over the world, so next time you visit this page you will probably find that the numbers here have changed.

The first Montana marker in the database, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, was added December 20, 2007. It was photographed in Crow Agency in Big Horn County. The last one added was submitted on February 22, 2020, and titled Pay Gold. It is in Butte in Silver Bow County and had been erected in 1931. Keeping in mind that the erection date of many markers in the database is not known, the earliest historical marker we know of in Montana was erected in 1914. It was this one: In Patriotic Memory of Sacajawea, and one of our correspondents found it in Three Forks in Gallatin County on October 8, 2016.

Montana Historical Categories
186 • Industry and Commerce
169 • Notable Buildings
134 • Settlements and Settlers
131 • Native Americans
118 • Exploration
80 • Indian Wars
55 • Roads and Vehicles
53 • Forts or Castles
52 • Architecture
44 • Waterways and Vessels
    ... and more ...

Montanans don’t want to forget their Industry and Commerce history. How do we know? Because there are more historical markers in the database from Montana about Industry and Commerce—186 of them—than about any other historical category. A close second is Notable Buildings with 169 markers.

The first marker added to the database with the Industry and Commerce category was Kerchival City, added July 29, 2008. It had been erected in Mosby in Garfield County. The last one submitted also was submitted on February 22, 2020, and titled Pay Gold. It had been erected in 1931 in Butte in Silver Bow County. The earliest marker erected with the Industry and Commerce category that we have listed was erected in 1931. It was Pay Gold, found in Butte in Silver Bow County on February 22, 2020.

Counties, Cities and Towns

The Montana county with the most historical markers listed in this database is Missoula County, with 134 of them. It is followed by Cascade County with 78 markers. The Missoula area of Missoula County has the highest number of markers within its limits, 109. In Cascade County the area with the most markers, 61, is Great Falls.

Historical Markers in These
Montana Counties
134 • Missoula County
78 • Cascade County
70 • Chouteau County
64 • Madison County
48 • Fergus County
47 • Gallatin County
47 • Big Horn County
39 • Beaverhead County
35 • Ravalli County
27 • Granite County
    ... and more ...

Checking the database for the city or town in Montana with the most markers we again find Missoula at the top of the list with 109 markers in or near it. And Great Falls also shows up again in next place, with 61 markers. For the ZIP Code with the most markers it’s 59442 at the top of the list with 59 markers in its delivery area. (ZIP Code 59442 is assigned to Fort Benton MT.) It is followed by ZIP Code 59755 with 49 markers. (59755 is assigned to Virginia City MT.)

Historical Markers Near These
Montana Cities and Towns
109 • Missoula
61 • Great Falls
59 • Fort Benton
49 • Virginia City
48 • Lewistown
43 • Crow Agency
24 • Havre
24 • Philipsburg
21 • Red Lodge
20 • Three Forks
    ... and more ...

Getting back to Missoula County, the first marker added to the database from there, Sand Park Cemetery, was added January 28, 2014. near Bonner. The last one submitted was uploaded on January 20, 2020, and is titled Apartment Building at 116 West Spruce, in Missoula. The earliest marker erected in Missoula County that we have listed was erected in 1925. It was Travellers Rest, found near Lolo on September 13, 2018.

Latest entry from Montana. Click to go there
By Cheryl Genovese, October 21, 2006
Latest Entry from Montana
“Pay Gold”

And finally the first, last, and oldest markers from Great Falls. The first: A "great" Set of Falls, was added January 16, 2015. The last: Of Special Concern added on December 29, 2019. The earliest marker erected was erected in 1928: Giant Fountain, added on December 28, 2019.

Who Puts Up Historical Markers?

The Montana Department of Transportation, in cooperation with the Montana Historical Society, is currently in charge of official historical markers found all over the state. You will also find official markers erected by the Montana Highway Commission, a predecessor. They erected their first marker in 1935, and we have 100 of their markers in the database.

In addition, the Montana Historical Society—not government affiliated—also erected numerous historical markers, and we have 234 of their Montana markers in the database. Also, a number of counties have erected historical markers on their streets and roads and within their public areas, as have some cities and towns.

Latest entry from Montana. Click to go there
By Cosmos Mariner, July 2, 2013
A Montana Department of Transportation, in cooperation with the Montana Historical Society, Historical Marker

Then there are federal government agencies that put up historical markers, especially in national parks and other areas under their jurisdiction. And finally, there are the numerous public and private organizations and individuals that erect markers. Some do this as a continual endeavor, and others once in a while, to mark something, someone, or someplace they find important or interesting. When one of our correspondents comes across one that satisfies our criteria, we add it to the database.

Off the Beaten Path

You’ll find that even the smallest, least populated, or most rural areas of Montana have been marked with history. Check out Pondera County, Lake County and Dawson County. We've only found one historical marker in each. Visiting one or more of these parts of Montana might make for a pleasant road trip, and maybe you’ll discover more historical markers while you’re there. If you do, perhaps you’ll take the time to photograph them and, when you get home, become an HMdb correspondent by adding them to the database. Happy Hunting!

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