The University of Montana, located in Missoula, is one of the oldest universities in the western United States, founded in 1893. It is known for its strong programs in creative writing, wildlife biology, and environmental studies.
Jefferson County, Montana has a rich and fascinating history that dates back many centuries. The area where the county now stands was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Salish and Kootenai peoples. European exploration began in the early 1800s when the Lewis and Clark expedition passed through the region, followed by fur trappers and traders.

In the mid-1800s, Jefferson County saw a surge in population as gold was discovered in the area. The first significant gold discovery in the county occurred in 1864 at Confederate Gulch, attracting miners from all over. This led to the establishment of Montana's first mining town, Diamond City, which became a bustling center of activity for a short time before eventually declining.

Mining continued to be a major industry in Jefferson County throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Silver, copper, and other minerals were also mined in the area. The town of Butte, located in neighboring Silver Bow County, became a booming mining town and had a significant impact on the economy of Jefferson County.

As mining declined in the 20th century, the economy of Jefferson County shifted towards agriculture, ranching, and tourism. The county's natural beauty, with its mountains, rivers, and outdoor recreational opportunities, attracts visitors from all over. Today, Jefferson County remains a small, rural county with a population that values its history and the stunning natural landscape that surrounds it.

Overall, the history of Jefferson County, Montana is one of exploration, mining booms, and a transition towards a more diverse economy. The county's past is closely tied to the development of the region as a whole and continues to shape its present-day identity.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Jefferson County, Montana.

  • 1805 - Members of the Lewis and Clark expedition enter present-day Jefferson County during their journey to the Pacific coast.
  • 1864 - The Montana Territory is established, including what is now Jefferson County.
  • 1865 - The town of Nevada City is founded during the Montana gold rush.
  • 1871 - Jefferson County is officially organized, named after President Thomas Jefferson.
  • 1881 - The Montana Central Railway is completed, passing through Jefferson County and connecting Helena to Butte.
  • 1903 - The large Granite Mountain Mine disaster occurs, resulting in the death of 168 miners.
  • 1915 - Boulder Dam is constructed along the Boulder River, providing hydroelectric power to the area.
  • 1937 - Jefferson County faces significant damage from the Helena-Nashua tornado, causing destruction in several towns.
  • 1985 - The Elkhorn Wildlife Management Area is established, preserving important wildlife habitat in Jefferson County.