Frontier LifeTrapping and Trading
When President Jefferson commissioned Lewis & Clark's Corps of Discovery he hoped that the fur trade might open the West to American settlement. He was right. Manuel Lisa built the first fur trading post in Montana on the confluence of the Bighorn and Yellowstone Rivers in 1807; just one year after Lewis & Clark completed their journey.
The Homestead Act was based on the belief that all people posess an equal right to land so long as they are willing to live and work on it. Montana, in 1862, had what seemed like plenty of open space. The Free Homestead Act and the Homestead Acts which followed it affected Montana just as much, if not more, than any other state in the Union. In 1976, Congress formally repealed the Homestead Act for all states except Alaska, and homestead entries there were ended ten years later. Today, no free public land is available to individuals, and the federal government rarely sells parts of the public domain.
Its no coincidence that Montana is nicknamed the "Treasure State." Our state motto,Oro y Plata means "gold and silver" in Spanish. As we'll see, gold and silver were responsible for first bringing large numbers of settlers to Montana. The economy and culture those men and women created led to Montana's statehood in 1889. Montana's mining history is full of wild west adventure and intrigue.