- Valley View Golf Club
- 302 E. Kagy Blvd. - Bozeman
- Montana 59715 - United States
- (406) 587-9751
- [email protected]
In the north of the region known as the Western United States
Before Lewis and Clark's explorations in 1805-1806, what is now Montana was principally the domain of numerous Native American nations: the Crow and Cheyenne peoples in the southeast; the Blackfoot in the north; and the Salish (or Flatheads), Kalispel, and Kootenai in the west. The state is still home to some 47,500 Native Americans, or about 6 percent the state's population.
Lewis and Clark crossed the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass west of Dillon, and it was in this area (aided by Sacagawea, a Shoshoni woman native to the region) that they were able to successfully negotiate for horses to help them over the Lolo Trail. Canadian fur trader David Thompson followed a few years later, exploring the Clark Fork River to what is now Missoula. Fort Union, built in 1828 on the Montana-North Dakota border north of Sidney, was the largest trading post on the Upper Missouri River for many years until the railroad and Indian wars conspired to close its doors. Farther south, Montana served as the stage for what may be the most famous incident of the Indian wars, the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.
Mining played another key role in early Montana history. Prospectors rushed to Virginia City when gold was found there in 1863; a year later, Congress created the Montana Territory. In 1864, a small band of prospectors called "The Georgians" stumbled on Helena's "Last Chance Gulch," setting off a boom in the future capital city. Butte, once Montana's largest and richest city, was built by mining barons Marcus Daly, William A. Clark, and F. Augustus Heinze. For years, these men ruled Montana with iron -- or shall we say copper -- fists. Meanwhile, eastern Montana secured its reputation as cattle country. Starting in the 1860s, cowboys began herding longhorns north from Texas to fatten up on Montana rangeland. By 1886, there were 675,000 head of cattle in the territory. Soon after, however, a summer drought followed by severe winter brought an end to the open-range era.
Montana was admitted to the Union on Nov. 8, 1889, making it the 41st state. Many homesteaders arrived early in the next century with the coming of the Northern Pacific Railroad, but by the 1920s, more drought caused thousands of settlers to give up their land. Fort Peck Dam, completed in 1940, brought irrigation, flood control, electric power, and a measure of stability to the high plains of eastern Montana.
Montana's economy continues to depend heavily on natural resources. Mining, agriculture, and forestry still play a part, but tourism has assumed an increasingly vital role. The state has also become a favorite spot for entertainment moguls both at work (many movies have been made here) and at play (scores of celebs own Montana vacation homes, including Ted Turner and Jane Fonda, whose buffalo herd south of Bozeman is among the nation's largest). Montana's population grew slowly during the 1980s, posting only a 1.6 percent gain and resulting in the loss of one of the state's two seats in Congress. Since then, however, growth has sped up significantly: Montana grew 7.1 percent between 1990 and 1994.
Planning a trip to Montana? Here's a selection of must-see attractions in every region:
- Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (Custer Country) -- A 71-mile-long lake and spectacular canyon scenery make this one of Montana's most popular recreation destinations.
- Flathead Lake (Glacier Country) -- This is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. Many companies offer boat excursions, and the six scenic units of Flathead Lake State Park provide spots for camping, fishing, boating, and swimming.
- Fort Benton (Russell Country) -- This small town, the major gateway to recreation on the Upper Missouri Wild and Scenic River, is marking its 150th anniversary in 1996.
- Fort Peck Dam and Lake (Missouri River Country) -- Built during the Great Depression as a public-works project employing some 10,000 people, Fort Peck Dam still ranks among the world's largest. The reservoir and its shores are magnets for boaters, anglers, campers, and watchable-wildlife enthusiasts.
- Fort Union (Missouri River Country) -- Fort Union was the top fur trading post along the Upper Missouri in the mid-19th century, along with a cultural oasis where John Audubon, Jim Bridger, Prince Maximilian, and others paid visits.
- Glacier National Park (Glacier Country) -- Called "the Crown of the Continent," this million-acre preserve boasts spectacular scenery and recreation among mountain peaks and 200 lakes. Glacier combines with southern Alberta's Waterton Lakes National Park to form Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
- Jewel Basin Hiking Area (Glacier Country) -- This 15,349-acre preserve in the Swan Range near Flathead Lake is set aside especially for hikers. Thirty-eight miles of trails wind along streams and alpine lakes, through meadows, and in view of mountain scenery.
- Last Chance Tour Train (Gold West Country) -- See all the highlights of Helena in a one-hour narrated trip aboard this train. Trips run hourly mid-May through September from the corner of 6th and Roberts near the State Capitol.
- Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (Custer Country) -- Well known as the site of "Custer's Last Stand," this is where Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors fought back the U.S. 7th Cavalry on June 25-26, 1876.
- Bob Marshall Wilderness (Glacier Country) -- One of the nation's largest and best-known designated wilderness tracts, "the Bob" is accessible via a network of about 1,800 miles in trails. Hiking, hunting, camping, and horseback riding are popular backcountry pursuits.
- Museum of the Rockies (Yellowstone Country) -- This noted Bozeman facility on the Montana State University campus includes an extensive dinosaur display, planetarium, homestead, and other artifacts of early Montana.
- Museum of the Yellowstone.
- Pompeys Pillar National Recreation Area (Custer Country) -- Plan a picnic along the Yellowstone at Pompeys Pillar, where explorer William Clark carved his name on this great monolith. His signature is the only remaining physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. East of Billings off Interstate 94.
- CM Russell Museum Complex (Russell Country) -- One of Great Falls' most popular attractions, this site has an extensive collection of Russell's artwork along with his original home and studio.
- Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge (Missouri River Country) -- The "CMR," as it's known to Montanans, includes a million acres of wildlands surrounding Fort Peck Reservoir. Residents include the nation's largest remaining prairie elk herd.
- Smokejumper Visitor Center (Glacier Country) -- See how U.S. Forest Service smokejumpers prepare to fight forest fires. Tours daily during the summer. Near Missoula.
- Tucker's Inn (Glacier Country) -- Experience Western Montana like it was meant to be at this 4-season country Inn nestled in Montana'a majestic Kootenai Mountains. Experience a piece of yesteryear, when life was not so rushed.
- Yellowstone National Park (Yellowstone Country) -- Although only a small strip of the world's first national park lies in Montana, the Treasure State is home to three of Yellowstone's five main entrances: Cooke City/Silver Gate, Gardiner, and West Yellowstone. Yellowstone is best known for its wildlife and fantastic thermal features, but visitors will also discover abundant recreational opportunity.
- Montana has an average population density of just under six people per square mile.
- The nation's single-largest Superfund clean-up site at Anaconda has been cleaned up and reclaimed as... a golf course! Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the Old Works Golf Course is set to open in the summer of 1996.
- With the opening of its new Lone Peak Tram, Big Sky Ski and Summer Resort between Bozeman and West Yellowstone now has the most vertical of any ski area in the United States.
- Montana is a casual state. Your favorite jeans, sweaters, shorts, and sportshirts will be welcome just about everywhere (although even Montanans enjoy dressing up once in a while for special nights on the town).
- Rail passenger service recently returned to southern and western Montana after a 15-year hiatus. The new Montana Rockies Daylight excursion train runs two-day rail tours between western Montana and Billings, with the train halting at night in Missoula so passengers don't miss a bit of scenery in the dark.
- Montana was the first state to elect a woman to the U.S. Congress. Jeannette Rankin, elected in 1916, became the only legislator to vote against U.S. involvement in both World Wars.
- Other famous Montanans past and present include Gary Cooper, Marcus Daly, Chet Huntley, Will James, Daniel Kemmis, Myrna Loy, Mike Mansfield, Brent Musberger, Charles M. Russell, and Lester Thurow.