Carl E. Prinzing
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2431 River Road
Missoula, MT 59804

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Missoula, Montana Information

Missoula Listeni/mɨˈzuːlə/ is a city in the U.S. state of Montana and is the county seat of Missoula County. It is located along the Clark Fork River near its confluence with the Bitterroot River in western Montana and at the convergence of five mountain ranges, thus is often described as the “Hub of Five Valleys”. The United States Census Bureau estimated the city’s population at 68,394 and the population of the Missoula Metropolitan Area at 111,807 Since 2000, Missoula has been the second most populous city in Montana. Missoula is home to the University of Montana, a public research university.

Missoula was founded in 1860 as Hellgate Trading Post while still part of Washington Territory. By 1866, the settlement had moved five miles upstream and renamed Missoula Mills, later shortened to Missoula. The mills provided supplies to western settlers traveling along the Mullan Road. The establishment of Fort Missoula in 1877 to protect settlers further stabilized the economy. The arrival of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1883 brought rapid growth and the maturation of the local lumber industry. An element of prestige could be claimed ten years later when what was already called the City of Missoula was chosen by the Montana Legislature as the site for the new state’s first university. Along with the U.S. Forest Service headquarters founded in 1908, lumber and the university would remain staples of the local economy for the next hundred years.

By the 1990s, Missoula’s lumber industry had gradually disappeared, and today the city’s largest employers are the University of Montana and Missoula’s two hospitals. The city is governed by a mayor-council government with twelve city council members, two from each of the six wards. In and around Missoula are 400 acres (160 ha) of parkland, 22 miles (35 km) of trails, and nearly 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) of open-space conservation land with adjacent Mount Jumbo home to grazing elk and mule deer during the winter months. The city is also home to both Montana’s largest and its oldest active breweries as well as the Montana Grizzlies, one of the strongest college football programs in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Notable residents include the first woman in the U.S. Congress, Jeannette Rankin, and the United States’ longest-serving Senate Majority Leader, Mike Mansfield.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,366, and the median income for a family was $42,103. Males had a median income of $30,686 versus $21,559 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,166. About 11.7% of families and 19.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.5% of those under age 18 and 9.3% of those age 65 or over. 40.3% of Missoula residents age 25 and older have a bachelor’s or advanced college degree.

As of the census of 2010, there were 66,788 people, 29,081 households, and 13,990 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,427.8 inhabitants per square mile (937.4 /km2). There were 30,682 housing units at an average density of 1,115.3 per square mile (430.6 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.1% White, 0.5% African American, 2.8% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.5% from other races, and 2.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.9% of the population.

There were 29,081 households of which 23.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.4% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 51.9% were non-families. 35.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.82.

The median age in the city was 30.9 years. 17.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 19.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 29.6% were from 25 to 44; 22.1% were from 45 to 64; and 10.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.9% male and 50.1% female.

Missoula began as a trading post in the 1860s situated along the Mullan Military Road to take advantage of the first route across the Bitterroot Mountains to the plains of Eastern Washington. Its designation as county seat in 1866 and location of the hastily built Fort Missoula in 1877 ensured Missoula’s status as a regional commercial center; a status further consolidated in 1883 with the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railway. The railroad expanded Missoula’s trade area to cover a 150-mile radius, and Missoula’s location as the railway’s division point and repair shops provided hundreds of jobs. When the railway began expanding again in 1898, increased freight shipments came through the city, and with the arrival of the Milwaukee Road and regional office for the U.S. Forest Service as well as the opening of the Flathead Indian Reservation to settlement all within a couple years of each other beginning in 1908, the economy began to rapidly expand.

Lumber mills, originally built to provide construction-grade materials for homes and business but then expanded to entice and then meet the demands of the railroad, profited from an increase in demand from railroad expansion and the nation at large. The Bonner mill, partly owned by both the Northern Pacific and Copper King Marcus Daly grew to become the largest producer of lumber in the northwest. Sixteen years later in 1908, Missoula’s location as both a major lumber producer and a regional commercial center helped land the city the regional office for the newly establish U.S. Forest Service created to help manage the nation’s timber supply. Over the next century, Missoula’s various lumber industries would be consolidated under various entities such as the Anaconda Company in the 1970s and Champion International Paper through the 1980s until most were under control of Plum Creek Timber, all the while demand in timber dropped. In 2007 a downward spiral of Missoula’s lumber industry began with the closure of a plywood plant in Bonner, followed by the closure of Bonner’s sawmill the next year, and finally the closing of the Smurfit-Stone Container pulp mill in early 2010.

Missoula’s location in a river valley surrounded by mountains on all sides as well as its history has had a great influence on the development of the city’s parks and recreation activities. Today the city boasts over 400 acres of parkland, 22 miles of trails, and nearly 5000 acres of open-space conservation land. Located at the confluence of three rivers (the Clark Fork, Bitterroot, and Blackfoot), the area is also popular for white water rafting and, thanks largely to the novel and subsequent film A River Runs Through It by Missoula native Norman Maclean, is well known for its fly fishing. Additionally, Missoula has two aquatic parks, multiple golf courses, is home to the Adventure Cycling Association, and hosts what Runner’s World called the “best overall” marathon in the nation. There are also three ski areas within 100 miles: Montana Snowbowl, Discovery Ski Area, and Lost Trail Powder Mountain. Slightly farther away are Lookout Pass, Blacktail Mountain, and Big Mountain.

Missoula is located at the western edge of Montana approximately 45 miles (70 km) from the Idaho border. The city is at an elevation of 3,209 feet (978 m) above sea level, with nearby Mount Sentinel and Mount Jumbo steeply rising to 5,158 feet (1,572 m) and 4,768 feet (1,453 m) respectively. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 27.67 square miles (71.7 km2), of which, 27.51 square miles (71.3 km2) is land and 0.16 square miles (0.4 km2) is water.

Missoula has a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSk), with cold and moderately snowy winters, hot and dry summers, and spring and autumn are short and crisp in between. Winters are usually far milder than much of the rest of the state due to its location west of the Rockies, allowing it to be influenced more by mild, moist Pacific air and avoiding the worst of cold snaps; however, this means precipitation is not at a strong minimum during winter. Winter snowfall averages 39.5 inches (100 cm), on average occurring between October 30 and April 20. As with the rest of the state, summers are very sunny, and the diurnal temperature variation averages above 30 °F (17 °C) from late June through late September, due to the relative aridity. The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 23.9 °F (−4.5 °C) in December to 68.6 °F (20.3 °C) in July. There is an average of 24 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs, 45 days where the temperature does not rise above freezing, and 7.8 days with sub-0 °F (−18 °C) lows annually.

Missoula’s first school was opened in the fall of 1869 with 16 students from around the region and their teacher Emma C. Slack who had come to Missoula via a two-month trip by horseback, railroad, and boat from Baltimore at the invitation of her brother. She resigned two years later upon marrying William H.H. Dickinson (the first couple married in Missoula) and was replaced by Elizabeth Countryman who would later marry Missoula’s first mayor Judge Frank H. Woody. The first public high school was opened in 1904 but was quickly overrun with students and was converted back to a grade school after the A.J. Gibson designed Missoula County High School was opened in 1908. After several expansions, Stanford University was commissioned in 1951 to create a master building plan that would deal with future growth.

It suggested purchasing land and building an additional campus at the Garden City Airport’s Hale Field which was gradually being replaced by the Missoula County Airport west of town. The new school was opened in 1957. Initially the two campuses were separated between upper and lower classmen with upper classmen in the new school, but in 1965 the two campuses became separate high schools. By student vote, the original Missoula County High School became Hellgate High School and the new campus became Sentinel High School. In 1980, Missoula became the first city in Montana to have four secondary schools when Big Sky High School was established. Six years earlier Loyola Sacred Heart High School, a private Catholic school, was created from a merger of the all-girls Sacred Heart Academy (est. 1873) and the all-boys Loyola High School (est. 1911).

Due to its rural location, highway access is especially important to Missoula. Interstate 90 runs west to east along the northern edge of Missoula at the base of the North Hills with all but a small portion of the city located south of the highway. Completed in 1965 at the expense of 60 homes, the Garden City Brewery and the Greenough Mansion, I-90 has four city exits and makes connections with U.S. Route 93, U.S. Route 12, and MT 200. The original U.S. 12, approved by the AASHO in 1939 to extend west into Montana did not include Missoula until the highway was rerouted along State Route 6 in October 1959 and was not extended west from Missoula until 1962. The road now crosses Missoula diagonally from the southwest corner of the city east toward Helena. U.S. 93 serves as a major economic corridor for western Montana connecting Missoula with the Bitterroot Valley communities to the south and Flathead Lake, Kalispell, and Glacier National Park to the north. Montana Highway 200,the longest state highway in the United States enters Missoula from the east and provides access along the Blackfoot River and a direct route to Great Falls.

References and more area information on Wikipedia here >>