State Information

Nickname(s):                      Big Sky Country

Motto(s):                               Gold and Silver

State song(s):                      Montana

 Capital                                   Helena

Largest city                          Billings

Admitted to US                    11/8/1889                  41st State

Brief History

After the Lewis & Clark Expedition, the Oregon Trail opened the area to settlements. 

Here are a few interesting facts about Montana:

  • Cattle ranching has been a major factor in Montana’s history. 

  • The Homestead Act allowed settlers to claim up to 160 acres. 

  • The average square mile of land contains 1.4 elk, 1.4 antelope, and 3.3 deer, which is slightly more than humans, at 6. 

  • Montana is rich in palladium and platinum. It is the only state in the US to produce these two metals, which are valued at 2.3 billion. 

  • Montana is the home to the largest diversity of mammals in the Nation. 

  • Custer’s last stand was at Little Bighorn, in Montana. 

  • Famous people from Montana include: Gary Cooper (actor), Chet Huntley (TV newscaster), Jeannette Rankin (first woman elected to Congress), and many others.

Interesting Stories

Cowboys. The dictionary defines “cowboy” as a person who tends cattle, traditionally on horseback.  But a cowboy defines himself as a man who works tirelessly under the blazing sun and in the blowing dust in order to coax cattle to go places where they don’t want to go.  Cowboys have to be knowledgeable in all things related to animal husbandry, including castration, infectious diseases, reproduction, and more. They are notorious for hating politicians, bankers, and lawyers. And they tend to believe that their word is more important than documents written by people sitting behind desks.  Likewise, cowgirls have all the same unwavering work ethics as their male counterparts. 

Evel Knievel was born in Butte, MT.  He quit high school and took a job at a nearby copper mine.  However, he was fired from there after trying to do a wheelie with a large earth mover.  Although a downed power line was found near his truck, resulting in a black-out in Butte, Evel claimed that there was no evidence connecting him to it.  After that, he sold insurance, but he was asked to leave from that job as well.  That’s when he decided to start jumping things with his motorcycle.  His big moment came when he was scheduled to jump the fountain at Caesars Palace.  During a practice run, he crashed and was seriously injured.  It was that injury that made him famous.  Later, he tried to jump the Snake River Canyon with the help of a rocket.  However, a parachute prematurely opened, causing him to crash.  In fact, during the course of his career, he crashed more than 20 times and had 433 bone fractures.  His wild spirit and never-give-up attitude captivated, delighted and inspired those around him.

Dan Mortensen was born in Billings, MT.  He started rodeo roping at the age of 6 and worked his way up to riding bulls.  He was named as Montana’s top ten athletes of the century.  In 2002, Dan climbed atop a horse named Painted Smile, at the finals in Las Vegas.  The horse had a reputation for being the worst bucking horse that ever lived.  Right out of the gate the horse went vertical.  Dan held on.  The horse did a 180 and on its way down it twisted its head, looking back in disbelief at its unwelcome and unshaken rider.  When the horn sounded, Dan jumped off and waived to the crowd.  He scored 92 points and tied the arena record.  Fearless passion is what drove Dan Mortensen to his six World Saddle Bronc Championships.

Montana Department of Transportation, in Helena, employs hundreds of hard-working people who go about their days, in good and bad weather conditions, keeping the roads safe, secure and uneventful.  In the harshest blizzard conditions, they are there working 24 hours a day.  If a snow storm covers the state, as it does every year, the miles required to plow the whole system equates to 1 time around the earth.  These men and women do it in 24 hours.  Remarkably, it is done without people even noticing or understanding what they do.  The only time that their work is really recognized is when a motorist runs off the road or gets trapped in a snow storm and the people of the Montana Department of Transportation are there to help.  These are some of the greatest people on earth.

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