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

Montana Facts and Figures

Gleaned from the Historical Marker Database


on January 27, 2022

1876 artwork by Henry Mitchell, via Wikipedia Commons

 Montana ranks 28th among states and provinces with markers in this database. The United States of America 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 52 of them have entries in this database. In Montana we have discovered historical markers in 185 cities and towns lying in 178 different ZIP Codes.

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There are at least 1,789 historical markers in Montana, by our count. We have cataloged 1,789 historical markers and 28 war memorials—each individually presented on 1,810 illustrated, annotated, and searchable pages of the Historical Marker Database. Pages for historical markers from this state make up 1.1% of our total. 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.

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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 January 25, 2022, and titled The Bozeman Trail. It is near Big Timber in Sweet Grass County. Keeping in mind that the erection date of many markers in the database is not known, one of the earliest historical markers we know of in Montana was erected in 1908. More than one was erected that year. This one of them: Spanish-American War Veterans Memorial, and one of our correspondents found it in Butte in Silver Bow County on February 22, 2020.

Montana Historical Topics
517 • Industry and Commerce
495 • Architecture
453 • Notable Buildings
277 • Settlements and Settlers
173 • Native Americans
172 • Exploration
132 • Indian Wars
108 • Roads and Vehicles
84 • Railroads and Streetcars
82 • Waterways and Vessels
    ... and others ...

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—517 of them—than about any other historical topic. A close second is Architecture with 495 markers.

The first marker added to the database with the Industry and Commerce topic was Kerchival City, added July 29, 2008. It had been erected in Mosby in Garfield County. The last one submitted was submitted on January 21, 2022, and titled Chamber Log Cabin. It had been erected in Laurel in Yellowstone County. The earliest marker erected with the Industry and Commerce topic that we have listed was erected in 1925. It is Bannack, found in Dillon in Beaverhead County on February 23, 2020.

What is the most interesting historical marker in Montana? What we know is that Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is the most viewed entry in the database from Montana since it was added in 2007. This year so far, the most viewed Montanan entry is located near Augusta in Lewis and Clark County. It is Record Cold Spot.

Counties, Cities and Towns

The Montana county with the most historical markers listed in this database is Silver Bow County, with 165 of them. It is followed closely by Lewis and Clark County with 156 markers. The Butte area of Silver Bow County has the highest number of markers within its limits, 163. In Lewis and Clark County the area with the most markers, 133, is Helena.

Historical Markers in These
Montana Counties
165 • Silver Bow County
156 • Lewis and Clark County
154 • Yellowstone County
134 • Missoula County
129 • Flathead County
101 • Chouteau County
78 • Cascade County
75 • Big Horn County
74 • Rosebud County
73 • Carbon County
    ... and others ...

Checking the database for the city or town in Montana with the most markers we again find Butte at the top of the list with 163 markers in or near it. And Helena also shows up again in next place, with 133 markers. For the ZIP Code with the most markers it’s 59701 at the top of the list with 162 markers in its delivery area. (ZIP Code 59701 is assigned to Butte MT including the Rocker, and Walkerville delivery areas.) It is followed by ZIP Code 59601 with 130 markers. (59601 is assigned to Helena MT.)

Historical Markers Near These
Montana Cities and Towns
163 • Butte
133 • Helena
115 • Billings
109 • Missoula
101 • Kalispell
74 • Fort Benton
61 • Great Falls
53 • Forsyth
50 • Miles City
50 • Red Lodge
    ... and others ...

Getting back to Silver Bow County, the first marker added to the database from there, Butte-Anaconda Historic District, was added January 1, 2019. in Butte. The last one submitted was uploaded on November 18, 2021, and is titled The Boulder Batholith and the Richest Hill on Earth, near Butte. The earliest marker erected in Silver Bow County that we have listed was erected in 1908. It was Spanish-American War Veterans Memorial, found in Butte on February 22, 2020.

Latest entry from Montana. Click to go there
By Barry Swackhamer, July 23, 2021
Latest Entry from Montana
“The Bozeman Trail”

And finally the first, last, and oldest markers from Helena. The first: Thomas Francis Meagher., was added January 10, 2019. The last: Last Chance Gulch added on December 22, 2021. The earliest marker erected was erected in 1927: Gates of the Mountain, added on April 14, 2020.

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 178 of their markers in the database.

In addition, the Montana Historical Society—not government affiliated—also erected numerous historical markers, and we have 902 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, Musselshell County and Fallon 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!

Jan. 27, 2022