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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Montana: Embrace the Wilderness

This Day in History: November 8, 1889

Montana, Treasure State, Big Sky Country

Montana State Motto: "Gold and Silver" (Oro y Plata)

"Tell me of that Treasure State 
Story always new
Tell of its beauties grand
And its hearts so true.
Mountains of sunset fire
The land I love the best."
~Charles Cohan, Montana


What does Montana mean?
The name Montana is based on the Latin or Spanish word for "mountainous." Western Montana is forested and mountainous, the eastern section is a high barren plain.
The official nickname for Montana is The Treasure State because of its rich mineral reserves. The mountains of Montana have yielded fortunes in gold and silver since the first substantial deposits were discovered in the mid 1800's. Another nickname for Montana is Big Sky Country, made popular by a Montana State Highway Department promotion in the 1960's (originating from a book by Alfred Bertram Guthrie Jr. titled Big Sky). Montana is the home to about 48,000 Native Americans. Their ancestors called the region the "Land of Shining Mountains" because the sun shines on its high, snow-capped mountains. In 1876, General George Custer and 266 of his men were killed by Sioux and Cheyenne Indians at Little Big Horn. The Indians were led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. The famous battle is known as "Custer's Last Stand" and was probably the biggest force of Indian warriors to gather in Western history.

Big skies, big adventure, and big spirits: this is Montana. It's where fertile plains collide with the Rocky Mountains and the country's fastest land mammals run the grasslands known as the American Serengeti. It's also where Lewis and Clark faced towering stone obstacles and Custer faced an even more daunting foe. This aerial journey showcases the Treasure State's mountains and milestones, its legends and landmarks, all from spectacular heights.
Montana is the largest Rocky Mountain state. It is a leading state in gold, copper, lead, zinc, platinum, and palladium mining, and has the largest coal reserves in the country. Cattle ranching has been central to Montana's history and economy since Johnny Grant began wintering cattle in the Deer Lodge Valley in the 1850s and traded cattle fattened in fertile Montana valleys with emigrants on the Oregon Trail. The land in Montana east of the continental divide was part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Subsequent to the Lewis and Clark Expedition American, British and French fur traders operated in both east and western portions of Montana. Until the Oregon Treaty (1846), land west of the continental divide was disputed between the British and U.S. and was known as the Oregon Country. The first permanent settlement in what today is Montana was St. Mary's (1841) near present day Stevensville. On November 8, 1889 President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed Montana the 41st state in the union. The capital of Montana is Helena.
 Montana is a state in the Western United States.

Montana State Flag

Montana State Seal
 Montana State Hall of Fame: Wolfe Point Cowboy Hall of Fame
Montana designated the city of Wolfe Point as the site of the official state Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2003. The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center showcases the lives of true Montana cowboys and how they intertwined with the rich cultural heritage of Native Americans and settlers of Montana. 
The Western Meadowlark was designated the official bird of Montana in 1931. Chosen (overwhelmingly) by Montana's school children to represent the state, the Western Meadowlark is a familiar songbird of open country across the western two-thirds of the continent.
The Western Meadowlark is often seen perched on fence-posts in grasslands and agricultural areas singing its distinct 7-10 note melody. Their flute-like song usually ends with three descending notes.
Brown bear portrait (grizzly); photo by Danny Barronon on Flickr

Montana designated the grizzly bear as the official state animal in 1983. Grizzly bears can be found in Glacier National Park and the mountains of northwest Montana. They are the largest carnivores in America standing up to 8 feet tall on their hind legs, weighing up to 1500 pounds and capable of running at speeds up to 35 mph.
Montana designated the duck-billed dinosaur as the official state fossil in 1985. So far fossil remains of this Late Cretaceous dinosaur have been found only in Montana.
Montana designated Bitterroot as the official state flower in 1895. Bitterroot can be found during spring and summer, growing in the sagebrush plains and the foothills of the mountains in western and south central Montana.
Spring crocus flowers in Missoula, Montana; 
photo by Marc Moss/ love not fear on Flickr
The arboretum at the University of Montana, Missoula was designated the official state arboretum in 1991. The arboretum serves as a "living laboratory" whose focus is primarily North American species and to be a strong representative of Montana plants and trees. Click HERE to see list of botanical gardens and arboretums in the United States.
For all State Symbols of Montana click HERE!

 Montana State Song: "Montana"
Montana State Lullaby: "Montana Lullaby"

Montana State Ballad: "Montana Melody"

Embrace the Wilderness

"A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."
— Wilderness Act of 1964

High rugged splendorous peaks
Flora and fauna in the rough
Waterfalls cascading into pools below
Simple beauty never enough


Forests of pine and fir
Ponderosa and Douglas both
Gentle meadows, open bald ridges
Surprising signs of pristine growth


Deep canyons, broad valleys
Montana-Wyoming boundary
 Vast, Jurassic and ancient
Imagination in reality


Twisting, sheer rock cliffs
Ribbons of blue below
Clouds of mist overshadow
Tracks covered by snow


Serene yet thunderous
 Moments of life and death
Embrace the wilderness
Awe in a single breath

©2014 Sharla Lee Shults

  Montana Facts and Trivia

Next state by month: #42 Washington - November 11, 1889