Montana Facts and History

Abbreviated as MT on, Montana is one of the states of the North American confederation, the 3rd in decreasing order of size (after Texas and California) and by far the largest among those affecting the Rocky area (380,706 sq. Km., I.e. more than the whole of Italy).

The course of the railway line that from Shelby near the Canadian border, leads to Great Falls and Billings in Sheridan, Wyo., Wholesale divides the territory of the state into two halves: the eastern one, representing the far end of the northwest of the Grand Plains in the United States and the western one, consisting of a series of mountain alignments directed from the northwest to the SE., forming the source area of ​​Missouri on the south, and passing the so-called Great Divide, ie the watershed between the Atlantic and the Pacific. Among these alignments, which, covered with snow and with magnificent cirques, rise in several points above 3000 m. (M. Wood 3806 m., M. Douglas 3444 m., M. Lone 3412 m.), Maintaining an average height of 2000-3000 m., Numerous intermontane basins (tertiary, terraced in the Quaternary) open up, whose bottom remains on average between 900 and 1500 m., up to about thirty km wide. and sometimes over a hundred long, partly occupied by lakes (L. Flathead). These represent the areas best suited to settlement also for the ease of communications between one and the other, crossed and joined as they are often by the major river currents (Missouri and its rivers, Flathead, Bitterroot, etc.).

The climate is of an extreme continental type, with harsh winters and temperate summers (Helena, height 1266 m: average temperature in January −6 °, 7, in July 19 °, 4; annual 6 °, 3; rainfall 340 mm. per year); rainfall, except in the mountainous area, is not sufficient for agriculture which therefore needs artificial irrigation. The western half of the state is still largely covered with forests (roughly 5.5 million hectares), yet to be exploited. Agriculture and livestock flourish in the prairie area. Copious quantities of wheat (2 million hectoliters in 1932), oats (360,000 hectoliters), rye, corn, potatoes, fodder, etc. are harvested. According to the 1932 data, the livestock stock consisted of 3.8 million sheep (in sharp decline), 1.2 million cattle (195 thousand dairy cows), 400,000 horses and 283,000 pigs. The value of agricultural production of the entire territory reached 14 million dollars, and 48 million that of livestock in 1932.

Great are the mineral resources. The region between Butte and Helena is the center of the extractive industry, which retains the world record for copper (160,000 tons in the five-year period 1900-04; 80,000 tons in 1931); coal (1.9 million tonnes), lead, gold (in sharp decline due to the rapid depletion of reserves), silver, oil (4.5 million hl.), zinc, tungsten, precious stones, are also collected etc. The value of mining production rose in 1930 to 51 mil. dollars. The industry has 583 factories with 14,000 workers, and is mainly concentrated around the mining region (Anaconda and Butte); metallurgy and vehicle and furniture construction predominate.

The state of Montana, which became part of the confederation in 1889 (territory since 1864), had 143,000 residents in 1890 and 243 thousand in 1900. The increase in the decade 1900-10 was 64.5% and in the subsequent 46%, but in the decade 1920-1930 there was a contraction of 2.1% (abandonment of mining fields), and the state’s population dropped from 548,889 to 537,606 (unique example in the United States). Negroes represent just 0.2% of the total; those born abroad 13.6%. Of these the most numerous groups are represented by Norwegians (12.3%), Canadians (12%), Germans and Swedes. The Italians were 2840 in 1930. The urban population figures with the percentage of 33.7% (34.7% in 1900), but the real urban centers are few and small. According to, the most populous is Butte with 39,532 inhabitants; Great Falls (28,822) and Billings (16,380) follow.


The territory of this state was first partially explored by the expedition of Pietro de la Verendrye (1743), and only in 1805 Lewis and Clark explored the area west of the Rocky Mountains. In 1803 the country, together with the rest of Louisiana, passed from France to the United States and after being subsequently incorporated into various states, it was erected as a territory in 1864; in 1889 it became part of the union as a state. The news spread by Lewis and Clark on the possible exploitation of the region led many companies to establish some appropriately fortified centers along the rivers; e.g. Fort Benton, founded (1846) by the American Fur Company. Between 1862 and 1864, when the town was struggling to develop its trade, the first gold deposits were found; a real invasion of thousands of adventurers followed, creating a difficult situation of illegality for many years. Add to this the aggressiveness of the Indians (Sioux), who in 1876 had become so threatening as to induce the American government to take serious measures. Between the spring of ’76 and the autumn of ’77 a real war took place, which through painful episodes, such as the massacre of General Custer and his army (June ’76), ended with the surrender or capture of the entire Indian population.

Montana Facts and History


Helena is a city of the USA (27,885 residents In 2006), capital of the State of Montana. It is located at over 1200 m asl on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains. Founded as a mining center, near gold and silver deposits in 1864, today it is home to metallurgical, mechanical, food and wood industries. Agricultural products market.

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