In 1972, the Montana Constitution was rewritten and adopted, becoming one of the most progressive state constitutions in the United States. It includes provisions for public access to streams and rivers, protection of the environment, and guarantees of individual privacy and civil rights.
Lake County, Montana, located in the western part of the state, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by Indigenous peoples, particularly the Salish and Kootenai tribes, who called it home for centuries. These tribes had a deep connection with the land and water, relying on the abundant resources for their sustenance and cultural practices.

In the early 1800s, European settlers began to explore and settle the area. The first recorded non-native explorer to visit the region was Canadian fur trader and explorer David Thompson in 1809. However, it wasn't until the mid-1800s that permanent settlement began. Missionaries and miners were among the first to establish settlements, drawn by the area's natural beauty and resources.

The establishment of the Fort Missoula Military Reservation in 1877 played a significant role in the development of Lake County. This reservation was created to protect settlers and control the Native American tribes in the area. However, tensions between the United States government and the Indigenous tribes eventually led to the Allotment Act of 1904, which caused the loss of much Native American land.

Throughout the 20th century, Lake County continued to grow and develop. Agriculture played a crucial role in the economy, with farming and ranching becoming prominent industries. Tourism also began to thrive due to the area's breathtaking landscapes, including Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River.

Today, Lake County remains a vibrant and diverse community, attracting visitors from all over the world with its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. It continues to be an important hub for outdoor recreation, agriculture, and Native American culture, offering a unique blend of history and modernity.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Lake County, Montana.

  • 1805 - The Lewis and Clark Expedition passes through the area that would become Lake County.
  • 1855 - The Flathead Indian Reservation is established, including the present-day Lake County.
  • 1866 - The first trading post is built in the area by John Owen.
  • 1883 - The town of Ronan is founded.
  • 1907 - Lake County is officially established.
  • 1914 - The Polson Bridge, connecting Polson and East Shore communities, is completed.
  • 1921 - Flathead Lake is officially recognized as the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River.
  • 1938 - The Mission Dam is built, creating Mission Reservoir.
  • 1947 - The Flathead Indian Irrigation Project is completed, providing water for agricultural development.
  • 1967 - The National Bison Range, located partially in Lake County, is designated a National Wildlife Refuge.
  • 1984 - The Flathead Lake Biological Station is established as a research facility.
  • 2004 - The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes open the KwaTaqNuk Resort and Casino in Polson.