Historical Notes

The following are spotlights of the major historical events that have had a lasting effect on the Missoula area.

Date Event
September 4, 1805
The valley's first residents, the Salish Indians had their first encounter with the Caucasian race when a party of 400 met up with the Lewis and Clark Expedition just south of what is now Darby, Montana. The Salish people treated them well and showed great kindness, not only to Lewis and Clark, but to settlers who would follow.
July 4, 1806 During the expedition's return trip, Meriwether Lewis and his party passed through what is now Missoula, stopping to camp along the Blackfoot River, approximately eight miles east of Missoula.
1860 The Washington Territorial Legislature created Missoula County, with the county seat "temporarily located at or near Worden & Co. Trading Post in Hell Gate Ronde." Hellgate was the site of the first settlement in the Missoula Valley, located approximately four miles west of the current downtown. It was an ideal location as it was the crossroads for north-south and east-west travel.
1864 Worden & Co. erected a saw mill and grist mill on the river four miles east of Hellgate. In 1865, they moved their store to the new location called Missoula Mills (now the north end of the Higgins Ave. bridge). The construction of the mill marked the beginning of Missoula as we now know it.
1869 Emma Stack (Dickinson) was hired as Missoula's first teacher.
1870 Missoula first newspaper, "The Missoula and Cedar Creek Pioneer", went to press.
1873 The first Higgins Ave. bridge was constructed. St. Patrick Hospital was opened.
1877 Fort Missoula was established. The first Fire Department was organized
1878 A Library Association was formed.
1879 The first telephones were installed.
1883 A charter for the Town of Missoula was approved by voters and formed as an aldermanic form of government. Frank Woody was elected as the first mayor. The Northern Pacific railroad arrived.
1884 The first telephone exchange was opened.
1887 First City Hall was constructed at the corner of W. Main and what is now Ryman St.
1889 Montana became a state. Electricity arrived to Missoula. Electors voted in favor of re-incorporating Missoula as a city.
1890 First horse drawn street cars went into service.
1894 The Missoula Public Library was opened.
1895 The University of Montana opened with 50 students enrolling on the first day.
1908 The U.S. Forest Service Office was established. Missoula experienced its worst natural disaster - the flood that washed away the Higgins Ave. bridge.
1910 First electric street cars went into service.
1911 The second City Hall was opened at 230 Woody St. The City adopted a commission-council form of government. Eugene Ely took off in his Curtiss Biplane on June 25, 1911, from the ballpark at Fort Missoula, the City's first aviation event.
1913 The first plane flew into Missoula (from Milltown).
1917 Missoula's Jeanette Rankin was sworn in as the first woman elected to the United States House of Representatives.
1920 The City opened its first public swimming pool.
1947 Community Hospital was opened. Juliet Gregory was elected the first and only woman mayor.
1948 Parking meters were placed into use.
1954 President Eisenhower dedicated the Aerial Fire Depot. The City Fire Department relocated from the old City Hall to its new headquarters at the corner of W. Pine St. and Ryman St. The City's form of government changed to commission-manager.
1959 The City returned to an aldermanic form of government.
1961 Missoula voters approved a $2,657,000 bond issued to build Missoula's sewage treatment plant. The plant was operational by 1964.
1969 The current City Hall at the corner of W. Spruce and Ryman St. was completed.
1970 Mayor Shoup resigned as Mayor to begin his successful campaign for the U.S. Congress.
1977 Mayoral and Council elections were changed from May to November and increased from two-year to four-year terms.
1979 Last passenger train left Missoula.
1995 New City Fire Headquarters (Station 1) was opened at 625 E. Pine St.
May 1995 After four years of a huge volunteer effort, the Carousel for Missoula opened its doors to the young at heart.
November 1995 The City electorate approved a $5 million Open Space Bond for the preservation of open space natural areas in and around the City.
June 1996 Charter form of government was approved by the City of Missoula electorate.
January 1, 1997 Missoula City Charter went into effect.