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Montana Trivia

It’s been over a year since I first posted my blog articles 50 things you didn’t know about Montana and Another 50 things you didn’t know about Montana, so I decided to take some time off from making photos of Montana this week and pen a fresh batch of Montana trivia. It takes a while to scour books and the Internet searching for little nuggets of Montana facts and history, but I enjoy doing it. It actually helps my photography, too, as some of them provide inspiration for future shoots.

I hope you find these “50 things you didn’t know about Montana” as entertaining and interesting as the first two lists. So, without further ado, I give you Still Another 50 things you didn’t know about Montana.

1. As the 4th largest state by area you can fit Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia inside Montana’s borders and still have room for the District of Columbia.

2. It is illegal to take a selfie of yourself while voting in the state of Montana. It is not illegal, the neighboring states of North Dakota and Wyoming, though.

3. In Helena it is illegal to throw anything across the street.

4. The black-footed ferret is Montana’s rarest mammal. Declared extinct in 1979, the species declined throughout the 20th century in part because a plague swept through many prairie dog colonies, which black-footed ferrets eat. After being declared extinct a small population of a few dozen ferrets was discovered in 1981. They were captured and a captive breeding program began. Today there are more than 1,000 mature black-footed ferrets living in the wild.

5. Montana’s favorite son, artist Charles Russell, was not born in Montana. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri on March 19, 1864 and did not arrive in Montana until the age of 16.

6. Ismay, Montana, located in Custer County, has a population of just 19 people according to the 2010 census. It is the smallest incorporated city in Montana.

7. The 2013 movie Nebraska was filmed in Montana.

8. The Montana Grizzlies and Montana State Bobcats football teams first competed against each other on the gridiron on November 26, 1897 in Bozeman, Montana. The University of Montana won 18–6. The Cat-Griz rivalry (or alternatively, Griz-Cat rivalry) is the 31st oldest among active rivalries in NCAA Division I football and 11th oldest west of the Mississippi River.

9. Montana is one of only five states without a state sales tax. That should make things a little easier when you calculate taxes for the year. Alaska, New Hampshire, Delaware, and Oregon are the other four.

10. In 1959 an earthquake in Montana  near Yellowstone National Park moved 80 million tons of rock, mud and debris into the valley where it blocked the flow of the Madison River and formed a new lake. That lake would become known as Quake Lake. 28 people died in the 1959 earthquake and one person is still missing.

11. Only North Dakota produces more honey (33.1 million pounds) than the state of Montana (14.9 million pounds).

12. No person born in Montana has ever been President of the United States, Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Treasury, Attorney General, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, or served in any other cabinet position in the federal government.

13. Montanans Googled the word “wolves” more than any other state in 2015.

14. Richland County is the only county in Montana with two major rivers flowing through it; the Missouri River and Yellowstone River.

Montana is a leading producer of barley, along with other agricultural products, too. → Buy a Print or License Photo

15. Montana plants more acres of barley than any other state…but it ranks third nationally in total bushels harvested.

16. The most common last name in the state of Montana is “Hanson.”

17. 80 million years ago a large inland sea covered much of Montana.

18. Before he became Montana’s second territorial governor, Thomas Meagher, was arrested, tried and convicted in Ireland for sedition in 1848. His sentence? To be “hanged, drawn and quartered.” Due to an international outcry his death sentence was commuted. He was banished “for life” to “the other side of the world” and sent by ship to Tasmania.

19. Baker, Montana claims to have the world’s largest steer, which is stuffed and on permanent display at the O’Fallon Historical Museum. It weighs 3,980 pounds and measures 5 ft. 9 in. tall.

20. Located on the Blackfoot River between Ninemile Prairie and Whitaker Bridge, Red Rocks Beach is Montana’s only nude beach.

21. Roughly 2 million people visit Glacier National Park each year and spend more than $100 million in Montana. Those visitors and the money they spend support 1,695 jobs in the region.

22. Though Montana is 44th among all states in population, its per capita state spending of $6,045 per citizen is 21st.

23. The most popular motor vehicle in the state of Montana is the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck.

24. The largest company in terms of revenue in the state of Montana is Stillwater Mining Company.

25. Giant Springs, Montana is home to the largest freshwater spring in the country.

26. Great Falls, the home of Malmstrom Air Force Base, reports more UFO sightings than any other place in Montana. 

30. Thousands of people every year flock to the defunct uranium and gold mines near Boulder, Montana hoping to improve their health by drinking radioactive water and breathing radon gas.

31. The lowest elevation in Montana is located on the Kootenai River where it exits the state in northwest Montana along the Idaho border. There the elevation there is only 1,820 feet above sea level.

32. According to the Kauffman Foundation, Montana leads the nation, with 610 entrepreneurs for every 100,000 adults, which bests Alaska, South Dakota, California and Colorado who are also in the top five.

The Ponderosa pine is the most common tree in Montana. → Buy a Print or License Photo

33. The Ponderosa pine is the most common tree in the state of Montana.

34. In the scene where Eliot Ness (Kevin Coster) and special agent Jim Malone (Sean Connery) intercept whiskey smugglers crossing a bridge from Canada in the movie “The Untouchables” was filmed near Cascade, Montana, which is 140 miles from the Canadian border.

35. No woman from Montana has ever been crowned Miss America.

36. Despite its namesake, Petroleum County, Montana produces very little oil. In fact, oil production in the county has decreased substantially since 1986. Richland County produced the most oil in 2015, with 15,324,851 barrels of oil. By comparison, Petrolemm County produced only 21,961 barrels of oil.

37. The state of Montana produces more dry peas than any other state in the country. Montana also produces more lentils.

38. White pine blister rust and mountain pine beetles have caused the whitebark pine tree in Montana to be listed as an endangered species. Located on western mountain tops, whitebark pine tree deaths doubled from 2006 to 2011.

39. The Berkeley Pit, a former open pit copper mine located in Butte, Montana, is one mile long and a half mile wide and has an approximate depth of 1,780 feet.

40. The Yaak Valley, located in the extreme northwestern corner of Montana, is considered a rain forest.

41. Montana has one of only two museums in the country dedicated to computer history. The American Computer & Robotics Museum is located in Bozeman.

42. The first North American luge run was built in Montana at Lolo Hot Springs in 1965.

43. Montana’s state motto is “oro y plata,” which is Spanish for “gold and silver.”

44. Though William Clark famously carved his name into a Montana rock formation known as Pompeys Pillar on July 25, 1806, Travelers Rest in Lolo, Montana is the only place along the Lewis and Clark Trail that has physical evidence of both explorers’ presence. Meriwether Lewis was not at Pompeys Pillar and did not re-join Clark again until both met later at the confluence of the Yellowstone River and Missouri River near what is today’s North Dakota border.

The Powder River is said to be “a mile wide, an inch deep, too thin to plow, and too think to drink.” → License Photo

45. Montana’s Powder River, a tributary of the Yellowstone River, is 375 miles long and is said to be “a mile wide, an inch deep, too thin to plow, too thick to drink.”

46. Montana is one of three states where the average adult drinks more than 40 gallons of beer each year. Only North Dakota and New Hampshire drink more beer per capita.

47. Lake Missoula was a prehistoric lake in Montana that existed at the end of the last ice age between 15,000 and 13,000 years ago. The lake measured about 73,000 square miles and contained about half as much water as Lake Michigan.

48. More tourists visit Montana from California than any other state, followed by Washington and Texas.

49. In November 1992 two United States military cargo jets on a night-time training mission collided and crashed near the Canadian border north of Harlem, Montana killing 13 airmen on both planes. Today a memorial to those who died can be found at the entrance to Harlem, Montana. 

50. Montana leads the nation with the largest percentage of bird watchers.

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