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Since the early nineteenth century, explorers and surveyors placed names on their maps of the region of North America that would become Montana Territory in 1864. Among the earliest mapmakers, Lewis and Clark arrived in 1804–1806, David Thompson of the North West Fur Company followed shortly. Geographic features dominate those maps, especially rivers and mountain ranges. Father Pierre DeSmet, a Jesuit missionary, arrived on the scene in the 1840s. The first towns appear on Walter W. DeLacy’s 1865 map, commissioned by the first Territorial Legislature. In just over half a century the Montana map sprouted hundreds of new names, created by hundreds of thousands of homesteaders who poured into the state seeking cheap land. The railroads promoted homesteading and offered up a wide array of names, some associated with railroad executives but others plucked off a world atlas, such as Sumatra and Malta. Between 1900 and 1918, Montana’s population more than tripled, but drought during the 1920s and 1930s prompted a mass exodus from eastern Montana, and the current Montana highway map reflects the steep decline in population; hundreds of towns have disappeared reflecting a shift in the state’s economy from mining, timbering, and small farms to a service economy and much larger farms and ranches served by regional commercial centers.This new traveler’s guide explores the origins of more than 1,100 Montana place names, drawing upon the knowledge of Montana Historical Society historians and the Society’s extensive collection of historic maps and newspapers, as well as the expertise of local and county historians.Montana is a vast landscape, its history and significance unknown to many, both to the native and the interested tourist. Clues to the meaning of the past can be found in the names that grace the contemporary Montana highway map, and this guidebook strives to illuminate some of the mysteries. The following entries document the names as we currently know then, and whenever possible, include both the history of the present name, as well as any and all previous names.