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Missoula Business Signs
Missoula Valley has been inhabited since the end of the last ice age 12,000 years ago. From the 1700s, however, the Salish, Kootenai, Pend d’Oreille, Blackfeet, and Shoshone peoples were the prevalent groups. These tribes often fought with one another, which lead to the bone-littered eastern entrance of the valley. When French fur trappers arrived in the area, they named it Porte de l’Enfer, or ‘Gate of Hell.’ In fact, when Missoula Valley was still considered part of Washington Territory, the first American settlement was named ‘Hellgate Trading Post.’ It was founded in 1860. By 1866, however, this settlement had been moved and renamed Missoula Mills, which was later shortened to simply ‘Missoula.’ The word ‘Missoula’ derives from a Salish word, ‘nmesuletkw’, which means ‘place of frozen water’, referring to the ‘Clark Fork River.’ The city of Missoula was founded by Christopher P. Higgins and Francis Lyman Worden and officially incorporated on March 12th, 1885.
Today, according to a 2014 US census estimate, Missoula has a population of 69,821 people. This makes it the second most populous city in the state of Montana. Missoula’s metropolitan area, according to that same report, has a population of 112,684 people. This makes it the 336th most populous metropolitan area in the United States.
Missoula, historically, has been a lumber town. Today, most of Missoula’s lumber companies consolidated under Plum Creek Timber, but this industry no longer retains the financial impact it once had on the region. Missoula’s other economic mainstay, on the other hand, has been that of a regional trade center. In fact, the city serves as the hub for its Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) Economic Area. This Economic Area includes the counties of Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli, and Sanders. St. Patrick Hospital and the Community Medical Center are listed as the city’s second and third largest employers, respectively, while 55% of Missoula’s employment is made up of the service and retail industries.
Missoula hosts the annual River City Roots Festival in August. This festival includes music, beer, food, and art. The River City Roots Festival, according to its website, attracts 15,000 people to the city. Missoula is also home to a booming brewing industry. Bayern Brewing, which opened in 1987, is considered the oldest active brewery in the state. Montana’s largest brewery, though, is Big Sky Brewing, which opened in 1995, and produces 38,000 barrels of beer annually. Big Sky produces Moose Drool Brown Ale.
Missoula’s largest employer is the University of Montana, which was established in 1893. This public university, as of 2014, has an endowment of $176.9 million and serves 12,922 students in total. The University of Montana’s main campus is located at the foot of Mount Sentinel, where Missoula’s hillside letter ‘M’ is emblazoned. The University ranks 17th in the country, and fifth among public universities in the production of Rhodes Scholars. The school boasts 28 such honorees.
The University of Montana’s athletic teams, nicknamed the Grizzlies, or Lady Griz, compete in NCAA Division I. The football team, who play their home games at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, have won the university’s only two NCAA championships.
As for Missoula’s professional sports scene, the Missoula Osprey are a rookie affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks who play in the Pioneer Baseball League. They play their home games at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field. The Osprey have four league titles to their name. Missoula is also home to the Hellgate Rollergirls, a roller derby team competing at the Adam’s Center.
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