Montana is full of interesting town names.

Across the US, most cities and towns are named after people. Montana is no different. For example, John Bozeman and Frederick Billings. Others are named after natural features like Great Falls, or an English version of a Native American name like Missoula, which comes from the Salish word Nemissoolatakoo. Roughly translated: river of ambush/surprise.

train tracks on the plains
Credit Canva

Credit the railroads for many Montana town names.

We imagine it was kind of like Oprah handing out cars, only back then it was the bosses at the railroads giving away town naming rights. "And YOU get to name a town, and YOU get to name a town!"

We're exaggerating, but only slightly. Many Montana towns are named after railroad bigwigs as the tracks that were rapidly crossing the mountains and plains of early Montana opened opportunities for pioneers heading West.

Credit Canva
Credit Canva

Montana miners and homesteaders earned town names too.

Early prospectors are given credit for naming numerous towns, along with countless creeks and coulees. When the mines were booming in Butte (named after a natural feature), the Copper Kings got naming rights to several communities.

Anaconda, for example, was named by Marcus Daily. Originally platted as Copperopolis, he changed the name in 1888 to avoid confusion with another Montana town sharing the same name.

Credit Canva
Credit Canva

It wasn't just the rich that got towns named after them.

Some towns sprung up as little more than a shack along a dirt road or river. Perhaps a grain elevator, cattle ranch, or general store was established. As they say, "The rest is history."

Let's explore 10 Montana small towns with unique names, along with the who and why behind their monikers below.

How 10 Montana Small Towns Got Their Interesting Names

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