The Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806 was the first time European explorers set foot in the land that would eventually become Montana. Fur trainers established shops in the region soon after this expedition, bringing wealth to them, but the native population suffered from disease and decimation. Eventually, this first attempt at settlement would fail as people stopped wearing beaver hats and animals became scarce.
In the Bitterroot Valley, Roman Catholic missionaries established Saint Mary's Mission, saving the westward expansion effort. It was the first sawmill built in the state and the first time that agriculture was encouraged within their community.
A gold rush ensued in the 1860s, as people rushed into the area seeking their fortune. Montana became a territory in 1864, but when the gold ran out, the boomtowns quickly disappeared. The U.S. Army was needed to intervene in local conflicts with tribes to protect miners, cattle ranches, and supportive industries.
By the time the railroads finally reached Montana in the 1880s, enough people called it home to become a state.
Let us take a tour at the best and worst parts about Montana starting at its best:
Best: Unlimited outdoor activities
Montana is famous because of its natural beauty, and there are so many things to do in this state. You will often see it staged shots of the state in movies and TV shows due to its mountains, valleys, and glaciers. Unfortunately, there is so much empty land in this state; it has the third-lowest population density in the country, behind Wyoming and Alaska.
Only Wyoming and Alaska provide more opportunities than Montana for outdoor activity. Farmers, ranchers, and workers in the oil industry must work outside to earn their living. Everyone then takes advantage of the opportunity to go camping, hiking, and hunting whenever possible.
The Montana craft beer industry is similar to the one in other Western states. More than 50 licensed breweries are in the area, employing over 500 workers and generating more than $60 million in annual revenue. Homebrewing is also growing in popularity in the state, with kits available at many retailers. You'll enjoy living in this state if you want beer and try different varieties.
Don't be all smiles yet because all good things come to an end. Here are the worst things you can expect in Montana:
Worst: It isn't easy to find a house in Montana
When you decide to move to Montana shortly, you'll need to arrange a temporary rental. House prices are not reasonable, and they probably won't be for a long time. In many areas of the state, affordable housing is scarce. Four out of five people will commute to work from a rural home because they cannot afford to buy a property there.
In Blaine County, where the average sale price is only $59,000, housing is relatively affordable. In the state, the average home costs just $99,500, but there are places where you cannot buy a house for less than $600,000.
Worst: Late in global trends
If you see a new trend in California or New York, you're unlikely to get to experience it for two years - and that's assuming you'll ever get to share it. Fashion trends are similar in the state. When you have to muck through mud and the like to get to the truck, you can't wear an expensive or formal outfit. Practicality is the main focus here.
The change in lifestyles in Montana will require you to adjust if you like keeping up with the latest trends.
We don't end here because there are more fun facts about Montana:
- Montana is home to the largest migratory elk herd in the country.
- A large breeding population of trumpeter swans can be found here.
- There has been no other place in the United States where more golden eagles have been seen in a single day than at the Rocky Mountain Front Eagle Migration Area near Great Falls.
- The largest population of common nesting loons in the western United States is north of Missoula.
- Elk, pronghorn antelope, and deer live on an average square mile of land.
- Winter migration can number as many as 300,000 snow geese and 10,000 tundra swans at Freezeout Lake Wildlife Management Area.
- Approximately 1,700 nesting pelicans can be seen at Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge.
- One of the crown jewels of England is the Montana Yogo Sapphire, the only gemstone from North America.
- Among all cities in the world, Helena had the highest percentage of millionaires per capita in 1888.
- Forty-six out of Montana's 56 counties are considered "frontier counties" with an average population of 6 or fewer people per square mile.
Would you give any suggestions for the above list on the best and worst parts of Montana? Let us know by writing your thoughts down in the comment box below!