In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase nearly doubled the size of the United States and expanded the country west of the Mississippi. With this expansion, President Thomas Jefferson made it a mission to officially discover and record the new western territories in order to ensure the country’s progression as a world power.
Lewis and Clark were employed to explore and map out this terrain that had yet to be mapped out by settlers, and their venture led them to the discovery of the three forks of the Missouri River and what would ultimately become the beautiful town we know today as Three Forks, MT.
Presently, Three Forks offers visitors a beautiful paradise that is perfect for nature lovers, adventure lovers, and history buffs worldwide. The rich history of Three Forks makes it all the more inviting for those who are looking to weave a piece of American culture into the tapestry of their lives.
Lewis and Clark: discovering a national treasure
With the assistance of Sacagawea, a Native American from the Shoshone tribe who was brought as an interpreter for the expedition, Lewis and Clark came upon the three forks of the Missouri River, the beginning of the continent’s longest river, on July 25, 1805.
In honor of prominent figures of the time, Lewis and Clarke named the three rivers the Jefferson, after Present Thomas Jefferson, the Madison, after Secretary of State James Madison, and the Gallatin, after Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin. The present-day Three Forks, Montana is located less than five miles from the convergence.
Cultivating a city
Due to the discovery of gold near this area, ample game for hunting, accessibility to the travel route along the Missouri, and many Native tribes, Three Forks became a popular hub for trappers, traders, miners, and farmers. They became the first settlers in the area, and Montana became an official U. S. Territory in 1864.
By the early 1900s, Three Forks was well on its way to becoming a vital part of the country. Along with the area’s aforementioned attributes, being seated near major railways and offering ferry, stagecoach, and trail access, Three Forks was officially founded by the owner of the Milwaukee Land Company, John Q. Adams, in 1907. The following year, 250 plots of land went up for an auction attended by upwards of 1,000 prospective landowners who shelled out between $100 to an astounding $1250 per plot.
Many profitable businesses were built in this new, budding town, including a bank, restaurants, a general store, several medical establishments, a school system, multiple industrial buildings, and a hotel. Many of these structures are still standing today and make up a rich part of the historical landscape of Three Forks.
While Three Forks seemed to be perfectly placed and equipped to become a major thoroughfare for this budding part of the country, the Great Falls area seemed to garner all of the traffic through the area, and the town did not grow at the rate that was initially anticipated.
Three Forks, Montana today
Claiming just under 1,800 citizens, Three Forks has dubbed itself as the best small town in Montana. It offers many beautiful historical and natural destinations for visitors and many excellent amenities for residents.
The town is perfect for outdoorsmen who admire the beauty and adventure that Three Forks offers, as it is home to many camping sites, hiking trails, mountain views, and easy access to several nearby state parks. Additionally, being seated along the three forks of the Missouri River, Three Forks is a fisherman’s paradise.
Home to the plant that produces 3% of the world’s talc, it employs many area residents.
Some of the area’s major attractions for visitors include:
The Missouri River & Three Forks, Montana: the history lives on
Whether you are searching for adventure, to get in touch with the natural beauty of the area, or to visit some of the nation’s most treasured historical sites, Three Forks, Montana is a place for everyone.
Where the Missouri River begins, so does the opportunity to experience one of the most unique places the country has to offer. In Three Forks, Montana, history lives on.