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Still another 50 things you didn't know about Montana

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.

25 Montana Instagrammers you should follow

I didn't really start using Instagram until recently. The photo sharing site is owned by Facebook and I've never been a fan of their terms-of-service and business practices. But as a professional photographer it was becoming increasingly difficult to avoid Instagram's impact on the landscape of photography so I succumbed and finally signed up to join Instagram this past year.

If you are new to Instagram yourself (not likely) or just want to inject some Montana love into your Instagram account then this is just the place for you. I have collected 25 of my favorite Montana Instagram accounts that everyone in Montana should follow. They are photo feeds that belong to Montana photographers (amateur and professional alike), travel bureaus, and businesses. But all of them share one thing in obvious affinity for the great state of Montana.

So, in no particular order, I give you the 25 Montana Instagrammers you should follow:

1. Ami Vitale has one of the most epic accounts on Instagram. The fact that she hails from Montana only makes it that much better. We won't hold the fact that she uses Nikon cameras against her.

2. Glacier Country Tourism has a wonderful feed of photos and of the best Montana destinations on Instagram. And in real life, too.

3. Bozeman based Simms Fishing Products has such a wonderful stream of photos on its Instagram accounts it makes me want to fly fish. And I don't even fish at all.

Smile for the camera. Photo: @kingpin_angler #forgettheforecast #keepemwet #simmsfishing

A photo posted by Simms Fishing Products (@simmsfishing) on

4. Everyone thinks about Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, but the official Instagram account for Montana State Parks reminds us there are many beautiful state parks in between, too.

5. Myke Hermsmeyer is an endurance sports and adventure photographer based in Montana and his photos show places in Big Sky county many of us will never see in person.

6. The Southwest Montana tourism district maintains a nice Instagram feed of photos and is a must follow if you are a Montanan, whether you live in southwest Montana or not.

7.  Montana Maggie captures and shares beautiful Montana photos almost daily on her Instagram account almost daily. It's one of the best photo feeds out there.

Same view different year

A photo posted by Megan🌲🏔🙋🏻🏔🌲 (@montanamaggie) on

8. Krissa Muonio is based somewhere in Montana west of the Rockies. And her photos are stunning.

9. Holly Horning is lives on a ranch and her photos shed some wonderful light on ranching life from the perspective of a real Montana cowgirl.

10. Sarah Calhoun's Red Ants Pants is an inspiration for any Montana entrepreneur and their Instagram account is a must for anyone who considers themselves a true Montanan.

11. Donnie Sexton is the official photographer for the Montana Office of Tourism and her photos on Instagram are always a treat.

12. The Great Falls Tribune maintains a wonderful photostream of timely and relavent photos on Instagram and is well worth following.

13. No list of Montana Instagrammers is complete without the official photo feed from Yellowstone National Park. They regularly post beautiful photos from inside everyone's favorite national park.

14. The Yellowstone Country travel district's Instagram feed features photos of the many beautiful and scenic places through out the greater Yellowstone region and the many activities that happen there regularly.

15.  A native of White Sulphur Springs, Annie Bailey is a graphic artist and photographer who conveys her love for the state through her photography.

16. The official Glacier National Park account on Instagram is filled with photos from staff and visitors to the Crown of the Continent and all of the beauty it holds.

17. I don't know Heidi Howeth's story, but I fell in love with her photos on Instagram the moment I first saw them. You will too.


A photo posted by Heidi (@heidihoweth) on

18. I don't usually like to give kudos to California interlopers, but the photos of Montana made by Morgan Phillips are stunning and well worth following on Instagram.

19. This is the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Instagram account, which includes many great photos of Montana wildlife.

20. The Billings Montana Trailhead Instagram account is chock full of great photos from Montana's largest city.

We love our downtown! Amazing photo by @elbryceito. #VisitBillings #MontanaMoment

A photo posted by Billings, Montana's Trailhead (@montanastrailhead) on

21. This Instagram feed of compelling photos and stories belongs to Chris Eyer, a mule packer who works in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

22. Everyone knows I'm a big fan of Central Montana. And you should be a big fan, too. Follow their Instagram feed for photos from the heart of Montana.

There's work to be done, even if it's snowy. Pam Voth photo #centralmontana #MontanaMoment

A photo posted by Central Montana (@centralmontana) on

23. Big Sky Brewing Company is a homegrown Montana original, and its Instagram account oozes Montana about as much as a swig of Moose Drool beer. Yeah, I know. I said "swig." Deal with it.

Rock 1, Snowbike 0. #powderhound #montana

A photo posted by Big Sky Brewing Company (@bigskybrewing) on

24. I'm not sure if there's someone who loves Montana as much as Tia Troy, which makes her Instagram account a must follow. But if there is, follow them too.

I think it's safe to say that this is one of the top views in #Montana. #GlacierMT #MontanaMoment

A photo posted by Tia Troy (@montanatia) on

25. The Visit Montana Instagram feed is the official Instagram for the Montana Office of Tourism and features photography from photographers, amateur and professional alike, from across Montana.

Who is down for the #YurtLife? Photo via @runyourpack. #MontanaMoment

A photo posted by visitmontana (@visitmontana) on

AND you didn't think I would let you out of here without pimping my own Instagram account brimming with Montana photos, did you? If you don't already follow my Instagram feed, please check it out.

Another 50 things you didn't know about Montana

Everyone seemed to enjoy my previous post 50 Things You Didn't Know About Montana, so I decided to lock and reload. So after some exhaustive research I decided to take some time off of making photos about Montana and come up with a list of 50 MORE things you didn't know about Montana. It's a lot harder than you might think putting an article like this together. For starters, I try to confirm every "fact," and it needs to be sufficiently obscure that the vast majority of people reading this article didn't know it to be true.

I hope you find these as entertaining and interesting as the last list. Enjoy!

An old, broken-down house surrounded by the vastness of Montana's eastern plains. → Buy a Print

1.)  Montana has the slowest average Internet speed in the country. People living in Estonia, Kazakstan, and Madagascar have a faster average Internet speed than those of us who live in Montana.

2.)  Six towns in America are named Montana:  Montana, Arkansas; Montana, Kansas; Montana, New Jersey; Montana, Ohio; Montana, Wisconsin; and Montana, West Virginia. However, there are no towns in Montana named Arkansas, Kansas, New Jersey, Ohio, Wisconsin, or West Virginia.

3.)  Montana was the first state to repeal its enforcement of the prohibition of alcohol in 1926.

4.)  It is against the law for a woman in Helena, Montana to dance on a table in a bar unless she is wearing 3.125 lbs. of clothing.

5.)  Though Montana is one of the coldest states in the U.S., it is home to seven different types of cactuses, six species of lizards, one breed of scorpion, and a thriving population of tropical fish in Ruby Lake near Madison, Montana.

6.)  The largest fish ever caught in Montana was a 77-inch, 142 lbs. 8 oz. paddlefish caught on the Missouri River near James Kipp Recreation Area in 1973.

7.)  Prior to becoming President of the United States, then New York State Assemblyman Theodore Roosevelt found himself in a hotel in Mingusville (now Wibaux), Montana where he punched out a drunken bully who teased him about his glasses.

A photograph of a western cowboy and his black cowboy hat shot from behind on a Montana ranch. → Buy a Print

8.)  There is one horse for every seven people living in Montana. Only Wyoming and South Dakota have more horses per capita than Montana.

9.)  Slippery Ann is a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts who want to observe wild elk in their natural habitat. It gets its name from nearby Slippery Ann Creek...which was named after Cyprian Matt; a notorious fur trader who operated a trading post near there in the 1880s. Somewhere along the way Cyprian Creek became Siparyann Creek, which became Slippery Ann Creek.

10.)  Helena, Montana had the electric service installed in August 1882. New York City did not have electric service installed until a month later.

11.)  The average age of a rancher in the state of Montana is 60.

12.)  Glacier National Park has 48 glaciers, the largest of which is Blackfoot Glacier, which is approximately 400 acres in size. And shrinking. By 2020 it is estimated there will be no more glaciers in Glacier National Park.

13.)  The last passenger pigeon in the state was shot in Waterton, Montana on August 23, 1874.

14.)  There are only eight escalators in the state of Montana.

15.)  Approximately 546 cities in the world have a larger population than the entire state of Montana...despite it being the fourth largest state in the United States.

16.)  The town of Ismay in Custer County is the smallest town in Montana with a population of just 19 people. The residents of Ismay once considered changing its name when they learned a man named Ismay pushed his way onto a lifeboat ahead of women and children on the doomed British passenger liner Titanic.

17.)  By law it is illegal to bring a "bomb, grenade, or explosive missile" to a city council meeting in Billings, Montana.

18.)  Big Bud 747, built in Havre, Montana in 1977, holds the record for the world's largest farm tractor ever built. Today it is on display at the Heartland Museum in Clarion, Iowa.

19.)  The first McDonald's Restaurant in Montana was located at 1046 Grand Avenue in Billings and opened on August 19, 1969.

20.)  African American soldiers from the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps rode their bicycles through the mountains along old wagon trails and Indian paths from Fort Missoula, Montana all of the way to St. Louis, Missouri in 1897.  As such, it is argued that mountain biking was invented in Montana.

21.)  The oldest person ever executed in Montana was 70-year old Heinrich “Henry” Furhmann. He was hanged in 1883 for shooting his son-in-law three days before Christmas in the doorway of his saloon.

22.)  In 1904 the Gros Ventre tribe in north central Montana had only 535 living members. Today it has more than 3,682 people enrolled in the tribe, of which only 35 are said to still speak their native language.

23.)  Montana is the first state that requires law enforcement to obtain a search warrant in order to spy on anyone in the state using the personal information stored in their electronic devices.

24.)  Butte, Montana has more than 250 miles of streets. But it also has more than 2,500 miles of tunnels underground.

25.)  Montana's mountain goats butt heads so hard their hooves can fall off.