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Interesting Facts About Missoula, Montana

Missoula, Montana is a town in the western section of Montana. This area includes a must visit to the 1877 Fort Missoula attraction. The attraction includes local history, artifacts, and many interesting historically restored buildings. It also is the home to the well-known Historical Museum. There is also a contemporary art collection at the Missoula Art Museum.

The children will enjoy a ride on the Carousel of Missoula. This is a turn of the century, antiquated merry-go-round complete with handcrafted wooden ponies.

Like Hiking?

hiking in missoula

There are amazing hiking trails that cross rugged Mount Jumbo and Mount Sentinel . You can also spend weeks exploring the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and the Northeastern Wilderness area. You will experience skyscraper tall peaks, lush forests, raging rivers, and cascading waterfalls. This short article will help you to appreciate the fact that there are many interesting things to learn about and places to see when you visit Missoula, Montana.

The “M”

When you arrive at Missoula, you will immediately notice that there is a giant M that overlooks the city from Mount Sentinel. It is the city’s most well-known and visible symbol. The giant M stands for a variety of things such as the University of Montana, Missoula, and Mountains. In fact, the locals often refer to it as Muscle Power in the sense that it will take tremendous muscle power to climb the surrounding high mountains.

The giant M can also stand for the Magnificent view of the Missoula Valley. You can experience this breathtaking view by hiking along the 13 switchbacks of the M trail. The trail begins just off of Campus Drive and there will be a 620 foot climb in elevation from the trail head to the viewing point.

The giant M and the trail go all the way back to 1908 when a group of University of Missoula students decided to build the letter M out of whitewashed rocks. In 1968, the whitewashed rocks in the M were replaced by a more durable concrete mixture. The dimensions of the giant M are125 feet long by 100 feet high.

Over the years, the giant M has seen many celebrations including the homecoming lightings for returning University of Missoula alumni. Other memorable celebrations include the late Prof. Clancy Gordon’s Earth Day Proclamations, stadium watching soirees, flashlight hikes and excursions, M themed birthday parties, and a continuous barrage of photo shoots by the “locals” and the “wish we could be locals”.

Music-Lovers’ Paradise

reggie watts performs at the wilma in missoula

Music lovers anxiously look forward each year to the free outdoor summer concert by the Missoula Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra has been a part of Missoula’s history for over 60 years. The Symphony orchestra is made up of more than 80 local musicians including University of Montana students and faculty.

Some of the guests artists that have performed with the orchestra include pianists Stewart Goodyear, Antonio Pompa-Baldi, and grammy nominated violin player Robert McDuffie.

The Missoulian

Spend a few hours at a century old Missoula icon called the Missoulian. It is the community newspaper and it has been providing advertising, news events, and doorstep delivery since 1870. This unique newspaper began its century long incredible journey when a four horse team delivered a cast iron press into the city.

This memorable journey started in Helena, then over the Continental Divide and finally into Hellgate Canyon.

The McGee Brothers and I. Morison published the inaugural edition on September 15, 1870. The name of the newspaper changed from its beginning name of the Missoula and Cedar Creek Pioneer to its current name, The Missourian. Originally, the paper consisted of only a few hand printed pages. The hand printed pages per printed two pages at a time. In one hour, the staff were able to print 200 papers.

Awesome Downtown

If you have a free afternoon, you should casually stroll through the streets of Missoula so that you can admire the many iconic murals. These 20 foot tall murals are located between Higgins Avenue and West Broadway. This area is referred as being in the “Heart of Missoula”. The murals were researched and painted by University of Montana graduate H. Ferguson.

They portray a reminder of the city’s humble beginnings.

Red's bar in downtown missoula

Some of the images to view include an old-fashioned clock that was located on Higgins Avenue, a Garden City Brewery, History of the Railroads, University of Montana, and the Rick Bice Star Garage Mural.

Recent mural paintings and maintenance have been completed with the help of many different groups including the City Public Art Commission, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, private donations and community fundraisers.

One destination that you must include is the Oxford Saloon. The Oxford saloon is the formal name but the locals simply call it the Ox. There are no keys for this establishment because it never closes.

This cafe and bar has been a downtown fixture in Missoula for over a century. Historians trace its beginnings back to 1883 which is almost a decade before the founding of the University of Montana.

Over the decades, this historical bar and cafe have served a colorful cast of regulars. One of the more famous regulars was the United States Senate majority leader, Mike Mansfield. One of the more popular dinner menu items was a dish called Brains and Eggs. However, mad cow disease eventually put a stop to this famous tasty treat.

The Ox is located on the corner of Higgins Avenue and Pine Street but it was originally located one block south at Broadway and Higgins. As legend goes, when the bar had to move down the block the patrons toted the bar with all of their drink still sitting on it.

Final Thoughts

Yes, Missoula should be on everyone’s bucket list as a place to visit and explore. There are hundreds of interesting things to do and to learn about when visiting this historical destination.

Some of the other interesting locations that will provide you with thousands of interesting facts about Missoula include the University of Montana’s Journalism School, Dornblaser Field, Northern Pacific Depot, Grant Creek, Pattee Canyon, Ch-paa-qn Peak, the Federal Building, and the Adams Center.


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