Missoula History

Missionaries, trappers, loggers, American Indians, prospectors, and train builders were among the key
players in Missoula’s recent past. Today, our modern city offers numerous cultural, educational, medical, and recreational amenities to both residents and visitors.

In 1805, Meriwether Lewis first visited the “hub of five great valleys” – Flathead to the north, Frenchtown to the west, Bitterroot to the south, Blackfoot to the northeast, and Hellgate to the east. Today, travelers fish and fl oat the Clark Fork, the Bitterroot, and the Blackfoot rivers, made famous in the movie “A River Runs Through It.”

Fur traders stopped here in the early 19th century and settlers arrived in great numbers after the discovery of gold in Montana in the 1860s.

In 1833 the Northern Pacific Railroad helped to make Missoula a logging and marketing center. Then, in 1893, the University of Montana was founded, now 13,000 students strong, and, like the community, still growing.

Today, Missoula is a thriving city of about 69,000 people. Professional and financial services, retail trade, health care and other professions have supplemented the older resource-based economy. Missoulians love the scenic beauty of their surroundings, with its opportunities to ski, fish, golf, hike or simply enjoy the outdoors. Sporting events, concerts, museums, and fine restaurants are also bountiful in this beautiful city.