A state in northwestern United States on the Canadian border; Also called: Treasure State.
State in western us, on the Canadian border; nicknamed Treasure State
Area 318,100 sq km/147,143 sq mi
Towns and cities Billings, Great Falls, Butte
Physical mountainous forests in the W, rolling grasslands in the E
Features Missouri, Yellowstone, and Little Bighorn rivers; Glacier national park, on the Continental Divide; part of Yellowstone national park; Missouri Headwaters state park; National Bison Range; Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake W of the Mississippi; Madison Buffalo Jump state park, with a preserved cliff where the Plains Indians stampeded bison to their deaths; Bannack, a frontier boom town, now a “ghost town”; Little Bighorn Battlefield national monument, the site of General Custer’s last stand, 1876; Big Hole national battlefield, the site of the battle between the us cavalry and the Nez Percé, 1877; Moss Mansion, Billings (1903); the Museum of the Plains Indians, Browning; gold rush mansions in Helena; C M Russell Museum, Great Falls, with works by the cowboy artist Charles Marion Russell; Our Lady of the Rockies, a 27-m/90-ft illuminated statue of the Virgin Mary on the Continental Divide, above Butte; hunting and ski resorts
Products wheat (under irrigation), cattle, coal, copper, oil, natural gas, lumber, wood products
Population (1990) 799,100
Famous people Gary Cooper, Myrna Loy
History explored for France by Verendrye early 1740s; passed to the us 1803 in the Louisiana Purchase; first settled 1809; W Montana obtained from Britain in the Oregon Treaty 1846; influx of gold-seeking immigrants mid-19th century; fierce Indian wars 1867–77, which included “Custer’s Last Stand” at the Little Bighorn with the Sioux; achieved statehood 1889.
Energy production, in the form of oil, natural gas, and strip-mined coal, has replaced precious metals and copper in mineral exploitation. The plains area still produces grain crops, sheep, and cattle.