Montana State was discovered by Francois and Louis-Joseph Verendrye in the early part of 1740, who claimed it for France. The United States acquired the state in 1803 from the Louisiana Purchase. The state is known historically for the great conflict known as the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876, which is also called Custer's Last Stand. The battle occurred from the partnership of the Cheyenne and Sioux Indian tribes, who defeated Custer and over 200 of his men. Early Montana industrial history was mining and the city of Butte became the supplier for half of the United States copper needs at one time. Other minerals that were successfully mined were lead, coal, silver, and oil. In 1888 Helena could count more millionaires per capita than any other city throughout the world.
The state is also known for its wide open spaces and is called Big Sky Country for good reason. Montana is filled with wildlife and has the largest migratory elk herd throughout the United States. It also has the largest population of trumpeter swans throughout the lower part of the United States. At one time it was thought moose was extinct in the Rocky Mountains, the animal now numbers more than 8,000. It is the only state in the US to feature a triple divide, which sends water flowing into the Pacific, Atlantic, and Hudson Bay. This wonder happens at Triple Divide Peak located in Glacier National Park, which also has 250 lakes within its borders. The rivers and streams found within the state send water for three different oceans and three major river basins.
The first national park ever created was Yellowstone National Park, which is located in southern Montana and the north part of Wyoming. Another natural feature of the state is Flathead Lake, which is the largest freshwater lake in the west with more than 200 square miles of water and 185 miles of shoreline. This lake is partially responsible for the many tourists that visit Montana every year. The state is a popular destination for tourists with its picturesque mountains, crystal clear lakes, and wide open plains. Adventure seekers come to fish, hunt, and join a dude ranch. Seven Indian reservations are located in Montana and an average square mile of land encompasses 1.4 antelope, 3.3 deer, and 1.4 elk. Sightseers have reported viewing up to 1,700 nesting pelicans at the Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge. Montana is a uniquely beautiful state with an intriguing history and one that provides the experience of a lifetime.