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Montana Facts and Trivia

Quick Facts

  1. Montana Meaning: “Montana” is from the Spanish montaña meaning “mountainous”

  2. Capital City: Helena

  3. Largest City: Billings (pop. 110,000)

  4. Area Code: 406

  5. State Tree: Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa)

  6. State Flower: Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva)

  7. State Bird: Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)

  8. State Fish: Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii)

  9. State Animal: Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)

  10. State Dinosaur: Duck-billed Dinosaur (Maiasaura peeblesorum)

  11. State Butterfly: Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

  12. State Grass: Bluebunch Wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata)

  13. Nicknames: Big Sky Country/Big Sky State, Treasure State, Last Best Place

  14. State Motto: “Oro y Plata” (Gold and Silver) a tribute to Montana’s mining history


  1. 41st State to join the United States

  2. Became a state on November 8, 1889, this same year, a thoroughbred stallion born and raised in Twin Bridges Montana named “Spokane” won the Kentucky Derby. To date, this is the only horse from Montana to win that prestigious horse race.

  3. Montana used to be a part of Idaho. The two were divided in 1864 when Sydney Edgerton convinced President Lincoln and the US Congress that the gold fields of Montana were important to the USA’s efforts in the Civil War and that he should be appointed governor, or he may have bribed some officials with the $70,000 worth of gold nuggets he carried from Montana to Washington DC.

  4. The border between Montana and Idaho was going to be the Continental Divide until the same Sydney Edgerton convinced/bribed the 38th Congress to move it the border a couple hundred miles further West.

  5. In June 1876 the Sioux and Cheyenne Indian tribes massacred the US Army’s 7th Cavalry in the Battle of the Little Bighorn about 50 miles East of present day Billings.

  6. Montana is the only US state to never have a major US warship named after it.

Geography and People

  1. 4th largest state in the USA

  2. The same size as the countries of Germany and Japan

  3. Population is just over 1,000,000

  4. Population density is 7 people per square mile (2.7 per square kilometer)

  5. Montana includes 7 reservations for about 66,000 Indiginous/Native Americans

  6. Montana is home to about 2,600,000 cows meaning that there are about 2.6 cows for every resident of Montana.

  7. Butte is home to the highest number of Americans with Irish heritage per capita of any city in the United States.

  8. There is a mountain in Glacier National Park, called Triple Divide Peak where water can flow to three different oceans, the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Arctic.

  9. The high point of Montana is Granite Peak which rises 12,799 feet above sea level (3,901 meters)

  10. The lowest elevation point in Montana is in the middle of the Kootenai River where is crosses the border into Idaho 1,804 feet above sea level (557 meters)

  11. There are more than 100 named mountain ranges in the state of Montana.

  12. Montana and South Dakota’s land border is 66.4 miles long, but there are no paved roads crossing it.

  13. It is possible to drive south from Montana and arrive in South Dakota with passing through any other states

Plants, Animals and Climate

  1. Many T-Rex and Triceratops fossils have been found in Montana

  2. Montana is home to North America’s fastest land animal, the Pronghorn Antelope (Antilocapra americana) which has been clocked at speeds up to 55 miles per hour (88.5 km/hr) in a sustained run and 61 miles per hour (98 km/hr) in a sprint.

  3. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the lower 48 US states was at Roger’s Pass near Helena, January 20, 1954, −70°F (−56.7°C).

  4. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Montana was 117ºF (47ºC) recorded in Glendive on July 20, 1893 and Medicine Lake on July 5, 1937.

Notable Places

Billings Montana, view of the Yellowstone River from the Rimrocks photo by Reddit user u/LightcrafterArtistry

Smelter Stack in Anaconda June 2018 photo by Elisabeth Dupea

Anaconda smelter stack comparison June 2018 photo by Elisabeth Dupea at Anaconda Smoke Stack State Park

Duckbilled Dinosaur photo by Flickr user Alan Madrid

“Montana Rex” Tyrannosaurus Rex at the Museum of the Rockies. Photo from the Museum of the Rockies website

Spillway at Fort Peck Dam May 2018 photo by Elisabeth Dupea

Jonathan at Fort Peck Dam May 2018 photo by Elisabeth Dupea

Butte Montana from the top of the Montana Tech “M” hill June 2018 photo by Jonathan Dupea

  1. Fort Peck Dam, located in Eastern Montana is the world’s second largest earthen dam and the largest hydraulically filled dam. It is more than 4 miles long and 250 feet high

  2. One of the mine shafts in Butte, the Mountain Con Mine descends more than a mile underground. (5,380 ft/1,640 meters).

  3. Butte Montana was the source of more 25% of the world’s copper during its heyday from 1890 to about 1916.

  4. At its peak in 1910, the population of Butte was more than 100,000 people making it the largest city between Chicago and San Francisco. The present day population is about 33,000.

  5. A large open pit mine in Butte called Berkeley Pit that closed in 1982 has since filled with acid mine drainage with a pH of 2.5 (same a lemon juice) and a depth of about 900 feet (270 meters) forming a lake about 1 mile long and ½ mile wide. It is one of the largest environmental disaster sites in the United States.

  6. The smokestack from the demolished copper smelter in Anaconda Montana is the world’s tallest freestanding brick structure standing 585 feet high (178 meters). It was completed in 1919 and used until 1980. It is 75 feet (22.8 meters) in diameter at the bottom and 60 feet (18.2 meters) in diameter at the top.

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