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Inscription Samples by Period

1800-1860: Fur Trade and Missionary Era

 After the explorations of the Lewis and Clark expedition, fur traders enter what would become Montana. Despite their small numbers they transformed economic attitudes about the land and its resources.  They introduced the beginnings of a market economy trading manufactured goods and guns for furs.  Missionaries also entered the area to spread the Christian religion to the Native population.  Both groups mapped the physical and human geography of the region but also spread deadly epidemics among the tribes.


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1860-1880: Gold Rush

With the discovery of gold a new flood of immigrants came to the area from both east and west seeking quick riches.  Many were escaping the problems of the Civil War. The stock industry also began to grow in this time.   Non-Native population rose above 20,000 resulting in Montana becoming a territory in 1864.  The new settlers demanded further protection resulting in a growing military presence as well.


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1880-1900: Early Railroad Era

The arrival of the railroads in the 1880s connected Montana to eastern markets resulting in a ranching boom and the advent of industrial mining in Butte.  The population became ethnically diverse.  Statehood was achieved in 1889.


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1900-1920: Homesteading

Through the promotional efforts of the railroad companies and local boosters, a flood of farmers entered Montana.  Dryland farming techniques allowed increased settlement in the semi-arid eastern half of the state.  Towns grew quickly as the economy grew and diversified.


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1920-1945: Drought, Depression, and War

A severe drought in the 1920s and advent of the Great Depression caused an outflow of people from the state, perhaps as high as 65,000-100,000.  However, new people did arrive, often on a temporary basis, with New Deal programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA).  Many Montanans left and served in the armed forces during World War II.  Training bases in Helena, Lewistown and Glasgow brought servicemen temporarily to the state as did an interment camp for at first Japanese-Americans and then Italian civilians in Missoula.




1945-1970: Post War Prosperity

In the post war years federal spending in Montana increased.  Extractive industries such as lumber, coal, oil and natural gas flourished.  The highway system boosted the tourism industry.  However, the farming industry became to decline as many youth began to leave the family farm for opportunities elsewhere.



1970-2000: Realignment

The constitution was deemed in need of renovation, resulting in a constitutional convention in 1972.  Politically the state became decidedly conservative by the 1980s.  The family farm continued to decline, particularly in the eastern part of the state.  Population shifted to the western part of the state.