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Great Falls is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of Montana and the county seat of Cascade County. The population was 58,505 according to the 2010 census, and was estimated at 58,434 on July 1, 2019. The city covers an area of 22.9 square miles (59 km2) and is the principal city of the Great Falls, Montana, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Cascade County. The county’s population stood at 81,327 in the 2010 census. A cultural, commercial and financial center in the central part of the state, Great Falls is located just east of the Rocky Mountains and is bisected by the Missouri River. It is 180 miles (290 km) from the east entrance to Glacier National Park in northern Montana, and 264 miles (425 km) from Yellowstone National Park in southern Montana and northern Wyoming. A north–south federal highway, Interstate 15, serves the city.Great Falls is named for a series of five waterfalls located on the Missouri River north and east of the city. The Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1805–1806 was forced to portage around a 10-mile (16 km) stretch of the river in order to bypass the falls; the company spent 31 days in the area, performing arduous labor to make the portage. Three of the waterfalls, known as Black Eagle, Rainbow and the Great Falls (or the Big Falls), are among the sites of five hydroelectric dams in the area, giving the city its moniker, “The Electric City”. Other nicknames for Great Falls include “The River City” and “Western Art Capital of the World”. The city is also home to two military installations: Malmstrom Air Force Base east of the city, which is the community’s largest employer; and the Montana Air National Guard to the west, adjacent to Great Falls International Airport.Great Falls is a popular tourist destination in Montana, with one million overnight visitors annually, who spend an estimated $185 million while visiting, according to the Great Falls Montana Tourism group. Among Montana cities, Great Falls boasts the greatest number of museums, with 10, including the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center near Giant Springs and the C. M. Russell Museum and Original Log Cabin Studio on the city’s north side. Great Falls was the largest city in Montana from 1950 to 1970, when it was eclipsed by Billings in the 1970 census; Missoula assumed second place in 2000, and Great Falls is ranked third as of 2021.
Helena (listen; ) is the state capital of the U.S. state of Montana and the county seat of Lewis and Clark County.Helena was founded as a gold camp during the Montana gold rush, and established on October 30, 1864. Due to the gold rush, Helena would become a wealthy city, with approximately 50 millionaires inhabiting the area by 1888. The concentration of wealth contributed to the city's prominent, elaborate Victorian architecture.At the 2010 census Helena's population was 28,190, making it the fifth least populous state capital in the United States and the sixth most populous city in Montana. It is the principal city of the Helena Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Lewis and Clark and Jefferson counties; its population is 81,653 according to the 2019 Census Estimate.The local daily newspaper is the Independent Record. The city is served by Helena Regional Airport (HLN).
Kalispell () is a city in, and the county seat of, Flathead County, Montana, United States. The 2010 Census put Kalispell's population at 19,927. It is the largest city and commercial center of northwest Montana. The name Kalispell is a Salish word meaning "flat land above the lake".
Missoula (listen) is a city in the U.S. state of Montana; it is the county seat of Missoula County. It is located along the Clark Fork River near its confluence with the Bitterroot and Blackfoot Rivers in western Montana and at the convergence of five mountain ranges, thus it is often described as the "hub of five valleys". In 2019, the United States Census Bureau estimated the city's population at 75,516 and the population of the Missoula Metropolitan Area at 118,791. After Billings, Missoula is the second-largest city and metropolitan area in Montana. Missoula is home to the University of Montana, a public research university. The Missoula area was first settled in 1858 by William T. Hamilton with a trading post near current Missoula along the Rattlesnake Creek, by Captain Richard Grant, who settled near Grant Creek, and by David Pattee, who settled near Pattee Canyon. Missoula was founded in 1860 as Hellgate Trading Post while still part of Washington Territory. By 1866, the settlement had moved east, 5 miles (8 km) upstream, and had been 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. In 1893, the Montana Legislature chose Missoula as the site for the state's first university. Along with the U.S. Forest Service headquarters founded in 1908, lumber and the university remained the basis of the local economy for the next 100 years.By the 1990s, Missoula's lumber industry had gradually disappeared, and as of 2009, the city's largest employers were the University of Montana, Missoula County Public Schools, and Missoula's two hospitals. The city is governed by a mayor–council government with 12 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 being home to grazing elk and mule deer during the winter. The city is also home to both of 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. Notable residents include the first woman to serve in the U.S. Congress, Jeannette Rankin.