52 Interesting Facts About Montana, Montana State Symbols

Last updated on April 24th, 2020

Montana is the 43rd most populous and the 4th most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It lies is in the Northwestern United States. Montana attained statehood on November 8, 1889, becoming the 41st state to join the union. Its four bordering states are South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and North DakotaSee the full list of the 50 states and their borders here. Montana (nicknamed: the Treasure State) has 56 counties. The state’s capital is Helena. With these facts about Montana, let us explore more about its history, geography, culture, people, economy and more.

1. The name Montana has a Spanish origin. The earliest Spanish settlers named the state “montaña” and it means mountain in Spanish. Montana is one of the nine mountainous states located in the western United States.

2. The motto of Montana is “oro y plata” and this means “gold and silver” in Spanish. This motto is taken from the gold and silver deposits in the state. Gold was first discovered in Montana in 1852.

Montana with bordering states
Montana (in red) on the map with its bordering states.

3. Butte, Montana is called the “richest hill on planet earth”. This is because of the rich mining history of this city.

4. Montana has a very low population density. Of the state’s 56 counties, 46 counties have average populations of just 6 people or less per square mile. This is why these counties are considered “frontier counties”.

5. Montana has a large population of grizzly bears. This is probably why the grizzly bear is the state animal of Montana. An estimated 1800 grizzly bears are thought to be alive today.

Grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park, Montana.
Grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park, Montana.

6. Montana has huge deposits of natural and mineral resources. Some of these resources are zinc, copper, silver, lead, oil, manganese, gold, timber and zinc.

7. The largest city in Montana is Billings and the capital city is Helena. Billings is the only city in Montana to have a population of more than 100,000 people while approximately 75,000 people live in Helena.

8. Montana has two popular nicknames. It is called the “Big Sky Country” and it is also called “The Treasure State”.

9. Montana is the 41st state to be formed in the U.S. preceded by South Dakota and succeeded by Washington. It was incorporated into the union on November 8, 1889.

10. Montana is bordered by four American states; Wyoming, Idaho, South Dakota, and North Dakota. Montana also has a large international border with Canada. It is the only state in the U.S. to share a land border with three Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan).

Flag of Montana

Flag of Montana

11. Montana has two important revenue-generating industries. They are mining and agriculture.

12. Montana is the first state in the United States to elect a woman to Congress. Montana native, Jeanette Rankin was elected to Congress in 1916 and re-elected in 1940. Jeanette Rankin was against the World Wars and also opposed the U.S. attack on Pearl Harbour. Her’s was the only vote against the war and she faced furious opposition for her views.

13. Approximately 10,000 white pelicans migrate from the Gulf of Mexico to Medicine Lake, Montana every spring. These birds are striking because they have wingspans of about nine feet.

A Pelican in Montana.
A Pelican in Montana.

14. There are more cattle than human beings in Montana. This is not surprising because the state is an important center of livestock farming.

15. The largest snowflake ever observed was seen in Fort Keogh, Montana. This snowflake had an incredible diameter of 15 inches.

16. One of the largest steer in world history rests in the O’Fallon Museum in Montana. This steer was about six feet tall and weighed an impressive 3,980 pounds.

17. The Lewis and Clark expedition stopped at Travelers Rest in Lolo, Montana. This is the only site that has physical proof of the presence of these explorers.

18. The city of Loma in Montana has the world record for the greatest temperature change in 24 hours. The temperature changed a whopping 103 degrees Fahrenheit moving from -54 degrees Fahrenheit to 49 degrees Fahrenheit.

19. Montana has a unique feature called a triple divide. This triple divide allows water to flow into the Atlantic Ocean, The Hudson Bay (when considered an Arctic tributary) and the Pacific Ocean.

20. In 1888, there were more millionaires per capita in Helena, Montana than any other city on earth. Most of these millionaires made their money from gold.

State Quarter

State quarter Montana. Montana fact file

21. Jordan, Montana is one of the remotest county seats in the United States. The nearest airport is 175 miles away while the nearest bus line is 85 miles away.

22. Part of the Yellowstone National Park is located in Montana. The park experiences 1000-3000 earthquakes annually and is also home to supervolcanoes. It is the first national park in the U.S. Montana is also home to the “Crown of the Continent” – the Glacier National Park.

23. Montana is large enough to contain six American states. You can fit the states of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia into Montana.

24. The Great Falls on the Missouri River is actually in Montana. It is the biggest waterfall on this river.

25. Montana has a huge population of wild buffalo. You can see many of these animals at the National Bison Range close to Missoula.

Montana on the map

26. Montana has many lakes. In fact, the Glacier National Park is host to 250 lakes and many of them are within Montana’s boundaries.

27. Montana has the largest variety of mammals in the United States. Some of these animals are elk, bison (the largest land mammal in North America), grizzly bears and buffaloes.

28. The tallest point in Montana is the Granite Peak. It stands at a height of 12,807 feet. It is the tenth highest point in the U.S.

29. Montana has the largest population of golden eagles in the United States. You can see more eagles on a single day here than anywhere else in the United States.

30. Montana is home to approximately 8,000 moose. This animal was once considered extinct but it is alive in well in Montana.

Large Antlered Bull Moose in Yellowstone National Park
Large Antlered Bull Moose in Yellowstone National Park.

31. Montana has one of the world’s largest collections of dinosaur fossils. The Museum of the Rockies alone has 13 T-Rex specimens.

32. Montana is home to one of the largest earth-filled dam in the world. This dam is the Fort Peck Dam located in northeast Montana.

33. Montana has the largest County Park in the United States. This park is the Beaver Creek Park located in Hill County, Montana.

34. The Yellowstone River runs through parts of Montana. This river is definitely the longest un-dammed river in the lower 48 states.

35. Montana has a large population of native Americans. This state has at least eight federally recognized Native American tribes.

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