Missoula County, Montana covers approximately 2,600 square miles in the western part of the state. Five large valleys and two major rivers wind through this mountainous region. Missoula County has a population of over 100,000 people and the county seat is Missoula.
The Missoula County Courthouse, 200 West Broadway, Missoula, MT, 59802, was completed in 1910. Its south foyer is graced by a series of eight murals painted by famed western artist Edgar S. Paxson between 1912 and 1914. An addition to the Courthouse was completed in 1966.
Missoula County is governed by three Commissioners, each elected to staggered six-year terms. The current Commissioners are Jean Curtiss, Bill Carey, and Michele Landquist. All legislative, executive and administrative powers and duties of the local government not specifically reserved by law or ordinance to other elected officials reside in the Commission (MCA-7-3-401).
For more information, visit the Missoula County website
The city of Missoula began as a tenuous settlement known as Hell Gate in 1860, when entrepreneurs
C. P. Higgins and Francis Worden saw trade possibilities and opened a log store in the valley.
The search for gold and the completion of the Mullan Road in 1863 opened up travel from Fort Benton, Montana, to Walla Walla, Washington, and brought people to the Missoula Valley. The settlement became known as Missoula, taken from a Salish Indian word meaning "near the cold, chilling waters."
The city's success was aided by four factors. First, the U.S. Army established Fort Missoula southwest of the town in 1877. Second, the Northern Pacific Railroad reached Missoula in 1883, the same year the city was incorporated. Missoula became a trading center in earnest, distributing produce and grain grown in the agriculturally prosperous Bitterroot Valley. Businessmen A. B. Hammond, E. L. Bonner, and R. A. Eddy established the Missoula Mercantile Company in the early 1880s. Third, the University of Montana opened in September 1895. And, finally, in 1908, Missoula became a regional headquarters for the Forest Service, which began training smokejumpers in 1942. The Aerial Fire Depot was built in 1954, and big industry came to Missoula in 1956, with the groundbreaking for the first pulp mill.
Serving as Missoula's 50th mayor, John Engen, was originally elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009. For more information, visit the City of Missoula website
Historical information courtesy of the Fort Missoula Museum.