Queen City of the Rockies, The Capital City
|Coordinates: 46°35′28″N112°1′13″W / 46.59111°N 112.02028°W|
|County||Lewis and Clark|
|Founded||October 30, 1864|
|• Mayor||Wilmot Collins (D)|
|• City||16.90 sq mi (43.76 km2)|
|• Land||16.86 sq mi (43.67 km2)|
|• Water||0.04 sq mi (0.10 km2)|
|• Urban||11 sq mi (30 km2)|
|Elevation||4,045 ft (1,233 m)|
|• Density||1,903.38/sq mi (734.91/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−7 (Mountain)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−6 (Mountain)|
59601-02, 59626; 59604, 59620, 59624 (P.O. Boxes); 59623, 59625 (organizations)
|GNIS ID||802166 |
Helena ( listen ; /ˈhɛlənə/ ) is the capital city of the U.S. state of Montana and the seat of Lewis and Clark County. 
Helena was founded as a gold camp during the Montana gold rush, and established on October 30, 1864.  Due to the gold rush, Helena became a wealthy city, with approximately 50 millionaires inhabiting the area by 1888. The concentration of wealth contributed to the city's prominent, elaborate Victorian architecture.  
At the 2020 census Helena's population was 32,091,  making it the fifth least populous state capital in the United States and the sixth most populous city in Montana.  It is the principal city of the Helena Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Lewis and Clark and Jefferson counties; its population is 83,058 according to the 2020 Census. 
The local daily newspaper is the Independent Record .  The city is served by Helena Regional Airport (HLN). 
The Helena area was long inhabited by various indigenous peoples.  Evidence from the McHaffie and Indian Creek sites on opposite sides of the Elkhorn Mountains southeast of the Helena Valley show that people of the Folsom culture lived in the area more than 10,000 years ago.  Before the introduction of the horse 300 years ago, and since, other native peoples, including the Salish and the Blackfeet, visited the area seasonally on their nomadic rounds. 
By the early 1800s, people of European descent from the United States and British Canada began arriving to work the streams of the Missouri River watershed looking for fur-bearing animals such as the beaver, undoubtedly bringing them through the area now known as the Helena Valley. 
Gold strikes in Idaho Territory in the early 1860s attracted many migrants who initiated major gold rushes at Grasshopper Creek (Bannack) and Alder Gulch (Virginia City) in 1862 and 1863 respectively. So many people came that the federal government created a new territory called Montana in May 1864. The miners prospected far and wide for new placer gold discoveries. On July 14, 1864, the discovery of gold by a prospecting party known as the "Four Georgians" in a gulch off the Prickly Pear Creek led to the founding of a mining camp along a small creek in the area they called "Last Chance Gulch".      In 1876, Thomas Cruse, a prospector of Irish descent, discovered a massive gold deposit in the mountains, northwest of Helena. He soon filed a mining patent on 20.25 acres and opened the famous Drumlummon Mine which produced a rich bounty of gold and silver worth millions of dollars. 
By fall of 1864, the population had grown to over 200, and some thought the name "Last Chance" too crass. On October 30, 1864, a group of at least seven self-appointed men met to name the town, authorize the layout of the streets, and elect commissioners. The first suggestion was "Tomah," a word the committee thought had connections to the local Indian people. Other nominations included Pumpkinville and Squashtown  (as the meeting was held the day before Halloween). Other suggestions were to name the community after various Minnesota towns, such as Winona and Rochester, as a number of settlers had come from Minnesota. Finally, a Scotsman, John Summerville, proposed Helena, which he pronounced /həˈliːnə/ hə-LEE-nə,  in honor of Helena Township, Scott County, Minnesota. This immediately caused an uproar from the former Confederates in the room, who insisted upon the pronunciation /ˈhɛlɪnə/ HEL-i-nə, after Helena, Arkansas, a town on the Mississippi River. While the name "Helena" won, the pronunciation varied until approximately 1882 when the /ˈhɛlɪnə/ HEL-i-nə pronunciation became dominant. Later tales of the naming of Helena claimed the name came from the island of St. Helena, where Napoleon was exiled, or was that of a miner's sweetheart.  
Helena was surveyed by Captain John Wood in 1865 for the first time. The original streets of Helena followed the paths of miners, thus making the city blocks of Early Helena various sizes and shapes. 
In 1870, Henry D. Washburn, having been appointed Surveyor General of Montana in 1869, organized the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition in Helena to explore the regions that would become Yellowstone National Park.  Mount Washburn, within the park, is named for him. Members of the expedition included Helena residents:    
By 1888 about 50 millionaires lived in Helena, more per capita than in any city in the world.  They had made their fortunes from gold.  It is estimated about $3.6 billion in today's money was extracted from Helena during this period of time.  The Last Chance Placer is one of the most famous placer deposits in the western United States. Most of the production occurred before 1868. Much of the placer is now under Helena's streets and buildings. 
This large concentration of wealth was the basis of developing fine residences and ambitious architecture in the city; its Victorian neighborhoods reflect the gold years.  The numerous miners also attracted the development of a thriving red light district. Among the well-known local madams was Josephine "Chicago Joe" Airey, who built a thriving business empire between 1874 and 1893, becoming one of Helena's largest and most influential landowners.   Helena's brothels were a successful part of the local business community well into the 20th century, ending with the 1973 death of Helena's last madam, "Big Dorothy" Baker.  
Helena's official symbol is a drawing of "The Guardian of the Gulch", a wooden fire watch tower built in 1886. It still stands on Tower Hill overlooking the downtown district.  The tower, built in 1874, replaced a series of observation buildings, the original being built in response to a series of devastating fires that swept through the early mining camp.    On August 2, 2016, an arson attack severely damaged the tower and it was deemed structurally unstable. The tower is to be demolished but will be rebuilt using the same methods as in its original construction.  
In 1889, railroad magnate Charles Arthur Broadwater opened his Hotel Broadwater and Natatorium west of Helena.    The Natatorium was home to the world's first indoor swimming pool. Damaged in the 1935 Helena earthquake, it closed in 1941.    The property's many buildings were demolished in 1976.  Today, the Broadwater Fitness Center stands just west of the Hotel & Natatorium's original location, complete with an outdoor pool heated by natural spring water running underneath it. 
Helena has been the capital of Montana Territory since 1875 and the state of Montana since 1889. Referendums were held in 1892 and 1894 to determine the state's capital; the result was to keep the capitol in Helena. In 1902, the Montana State Capitol was completed.   Until the 1900 census, Helena was the most populous city in the state. That year it was surpassed by Butte (with a population of 30,470), where mining industry was developing. 
Among the settlers the city's prosperity attracted were Blacks fleeing racism in the South. Many found work in the mines or on the railroads and established a middle class that supported Black-owned businesses, Black churches, Black newspapers and a Black literary society. A Black police officer patrolled the town's wealthiest (white) neighborhood. But in the later 1900s new discriminatory laws, such as a ban on mixed marriages and the establishment of many sundown towns, along with the attendant racist attitudes that led to them drove many Blacks out not just Helena but the state, to the point that the city's Black population today is a small fraction of what it was in the early 20th century. 
In 1916, the United Daughters of the Confederacy commissioned the construction of the Confederate Memorial Fountain in Hill Park.  It was the only Confederate memorial in the Northwestern United States.  The fountain was removed on August 18, 2017, after the Helena City Commission deemed it a threat to public safety following a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. 
The Cathedral of Saint Helena  and the Helena Civic Center  are two of Helena's many significant historic buildings.
Many working Helenans (approx. 18%) work for agencies of the state government.  When in Helena, most people visit the local walking mall. It was completed in the early 1980s after Urban Renewal and the Model Cities Program in the early 1970s had removed many historic buildings from the downtown district.   During the next decade, a three-block shopping district was renovated that followed the original Last Chance Gulch. A small artificial stream runs along most of the walking mall to represent the underground springs that originally flowed above ground in parts of the Gulch. 
The Archie Bray Foundation, an internationally renowned ceramics center founded in 1952, is just northwest of Helena, near Spring Meadow Lake. 
A significant train wreck occurred on February 2, 1989, in which a 48-car runaway freight train slammed into a parked train near Carroll College, setting off an explosion that blasted out windows up to three miles away, causing most of the city to lose power and forcing some residents to evacuate in subzero weather.   
With the mountains, Helena has much outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing.   Great Divide Ski Area is northwest of town near the ghost town of Marysville. Helena is also known for its mountain biking.  It was officially designated as an International Mountain Bicycling Association bronze level Ride Center on October 23, 2013.  
Helena High School  and Capital High School  are public high schools in Helena School District No. 1.
In 2017, Helena voters elected as mayor former Liberian refugee Wilmot Collins, who was widely reported to be Helena's first black mayor.   The Independent Record reported contested research indicating that in the early 1870s one E. T. Johnson, listed in the city directory as a black barber from Washington D.C., had been elected mayor, before Helena became an incorporated town. 
Helena is located at 46°35′45″N112°1′37″W / 46.59583°N 112.02694°W (46.595805, −112.027031),  at an altitude of 4,058 feet (1,237 m). 
Surrounding features include the Continental Divide, Mount Helena City Park, Spring Meadow Lake State Park, Lake Helena, Helena National Forest, the Big Belt Mountains, the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness, Sleeping Giant Wilderness Study Area, Bob Marshall Wilderness, Scapegoat Wilderness, the Missouri River, Canyon Ferry Lake, Holter Lake, Hauser Lake, and the Elkhorn Mountains.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.39 square miles (42.45 km2), of which 16.35 square miles (42.35 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) is water. 
Helena has a semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk), with long, cold and moderately snowy winters, hot and dry summers, and short springs and autumns in between.  Snowfall has been observed in every month but July, but is usually absent from May to September, and normally accumulates in only light amounts.  Winters have periods of moderation, partly due to warming influence from chinooks.  Precipitation mostly falls in the spring and is generally sparse, averaging only 11.4 inches (290 mm) annually.  The hottest temperature recorded in Helena was 105 °F (41 °C) on August 24, 1969, and July 15, 2002, while the coldest temperature recorded was −42 °F (−41 °C) on January 31, 1893, January 25, 1957, and February 2, 1996. 
|Climate data for Helena, Montana, 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1880–present|
|Record high °F (°C)||63|
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||53.2|
|Average high °F (°C)||32.4|
|Daily mean °F (°C)||23.0|
|Average low °F (°C)||13.5|
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||−12.6|
|Record low °F (°C)||−42|
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||0.39|
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||6.6|
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||6.5||6.5||6.9||8.8||11.2||11.5||7.5||6.3||5.8||7.0||6.5||6.6||91.1|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||5.6||5.6||3.7||2.1||0.2||0.1||0.0||0.1||0.0||1.5||4.0||5.2||28.1|
|Source 1: NOAA |
|Source 2: National Weather Service |
|source:  |
U.S. Decennial Census  
As of the census of 2010,   there were 28,190 people, 12,780 households, and 6,691 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,724.2 inhabitants per square mile (665.7/km2). There were 13,457 housing units at an average density of 823.1 per square mile (317.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.3% White, 0.4% African American, 2.3% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.6% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.8% of the population.[ citation needed ]
There were 12,780 households, of which 24.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.2% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 47.6% were non-families. 39.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older.  The average household size was 2.07 and the average family size was 2.77.[ citation needed ]
The median age in the city was 40.3 years. 20.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 11.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.3% were from 25 to 44; 29.5% were from 45 to 64; and 15.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.0% male and 52.0% female. 
This section needs additional citations for verification .(July 2020)
As of the census of 2000,  there were 25,780 people, 11,541 households, and 6,474 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,840.7 people per square mile (710.7 people/km2). There were 12,133 housing units at an average density of 866.3 per square mile (334.5/km2). The ethnic makeup of the city is 94.8% White, 0.2% African American, 2.1% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.4% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. 1.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 11,541 households, out of which 27.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.5% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.9% were non-families. 37.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.83.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 22.4% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 26.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $34,416, and the median income for a family was $50,018. Males had a median income of $34,357 versus $25,821 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,020. About 9.3% of families and 14.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.4% of those under age 18 and 8.3% of those age 65 or over.
Helena has a long record of economic stability with its history as being the state capital and being founded in an area rich in silver and lead deposits. However, this situation has resulted in a slow growing economy.    Its status as capital makes it a major hub of activity at the county, state, and federal level.  According to the Helena Area Chamber of Commerce, the capital's median household income is $50,889, and its unemployment rate stood at 3.8% in 2013, about 1.2% lower than the rest of the state.   Education is a major employer, with two high schools and accompanying elementary and middle schools for K–12 students as well as Helena College. Major private employers within the city of Helena include Carroll College and the medical community.  
Helena's economy is also bolstered by Fort William Henry Harrison, the training facility for the Montana National Guard, located just outside the city.  Fort Harrison is also home to Fort Harrison VA Medical Center, where many Helena-area residents work. 
This section needs additional citations for verification .(July 2020)
List of schools in Helena, Montana  
Helena has a public library, a branch of the Lewis & Clark Library. 
Helena's Designated Market Area is 205th in size, as defined by Nielsen Media Research, and is the fifth smallest media market in the nation.
USS Helena, 5 ships
Montana is a state in the Mountain West division of the Western United States. It is bordered by Idaho to the west, North Dakota and South Dakota to the east, Wyoming to the south, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan to the north. It is the fourth-largest state by area, the eighth-least populous state, and the third-least densely populated state. Its state capital is Helena, while the largest city is Billings. The western half of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges, while the eastern half is characterized by western prairie terrain and badlands, with smaller mountain ranges found throughout the state. The state has a reputation for a libertarian bent in popular opinion and policy.
Park County is a county in the U.S. state of Montana. At the 2020 census, the population was 17,191. Its county seat is Livingston. A small part of Yellowstone National Park is in the southern part of the county.
Meagher County is a county located in the U.S. state of Montana. As of the 2020 census, the population was 1,927. Its county seat is White Sulphur Springs.
Gallatin County is located in the U.S. state of Montana. With its county seat in Bozeman, it is the second-most populous county in Montana, with a population of 118,960 in the 2020 Census.
Carbon County is a county located in the U.S. state of Montana. As of the 2020 census, the population was 10,473. Its county seat is Red Lodge.
Broadwater County is a county in the U.S. state of Montana. As of the 2020 census, the population was 6,774. Its county seat is Townsend. The county was named for Charles Arthur Broadwater, a noted Montana railroad, real estate, and banking magnate.
Townsend is a city in and the county seat of Broadwater County, Montana, United States. The population was 1,787 at the 2020 census.
Bozeman is a city and the county seat of Gallatin County, Montana, United States. Located in southwest Montana, the 2020 census put Bozeman's population at 53,293 making it the fourth-largest city in Montana. It is the principal city of the Bozeman, MT Micropolitan Statistical Area, consisting of all of Gallatin County with a population of 118,960. It is the largest micropolitan statistical area in Montana, the fastest growing micropolitan statistical area in the United States in 2018, 2019 and 2020, as well as the second-largest of all Montana's statistical areas.
Lincoln is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Lewis and Clark County, Montana, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,013.
Virginia City is a town in and the county seat of Madison County, Montana, United States. In 1961 the town and the surrounding area were designated a National Historic Landmark District, the Virginia City Historic District. The population was 219 at the 2020 census.
Livingston is a city and county seat of Park County, Montana, United States. It is in southwestern Montana, on the Yellowstone River, north of Yellowstone National Park. As of the 2020 census, the population of the city was 8,040.
Billings is the largest city in the U.S. state of Montana, with a population of 117,116 as of the 2020 census. Located in the south-central portion of the state, it is the seat of Yellowstone County and the principal city of the Billings Metropolitan Area, which had a population of 184,167 in the 2020 census. It has a trade area of over 500,000.
Helena National Forest is located in west-central Montana, in the United States. Covering 984,558 acres (3,984.36 km2), the forest is broken into several separate sections. The eastern regions are dominated by the Big Belt Mountains, and are the location of the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness, which remains much as it did when the Lewis and Clark Expedition passed through the region. The western sections have both the continental divide and the Scapegoat Wilderness area, which is part of the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex. The southern region includes the Elkhorn Mountains. The forest is composed of a mixture of grass and sagebrush covered lowlands with "island" pockets of lodgepole pine and more mountainous areas where Douglas fir, spruce and larch can be found. The rocky mountains in the region do not exceed 10,000 feet.
Emigrant is an unincorporated community in Park County, Montana, United States. As of the 2010 census, the ZIP Code Tabulation Area (59027) for Emigrant had a population of 372. Emigrant is located in southern Montana, on the Yellowstone River, approximately 30 miles (48 km) north of Yellowstone National Park, and 20 miles (32 km) south of Livingston.
The area that eventually became the U.S. state of Montana played little direct role in the American Civil War. The closest the Confederate States Army ever came to the area was New Mexico and eastern Kansas, each over a thousand miles away. There was not even an organized territory using "Montana" until the Montana Territory was created on May 26, 1864, three years after the Battle of Fort Sumter. In 1861, the area was divided between the Dakota Territory and the Washington Territory, and in 1863, it was part of the Idaho Territory.
Confederate Gulch is a steeply incised gulch or valley on the west-facing slopes of the Big Belt Mountains in the U.S. state of Montana. Its small stream drains westward into Canyon Ferry Lake, on the upper Missouri River near present-day Townsend, Montana. In 1864, Confederate soldiers on parole during the American Civil War made a minor gold discovery in the gulch, but the discovery of the sensationally rich Montana Bar the following year—one of the richest placer strikes per acre ever made—led to other rich gold strikes up and down the gulch, and touched off a frantic boom period of placer gold mining in the area that extended through 1869. From 1866 to 1869, the gulch equaled or outstripped all other mining camps in the Montana Territory in gold production, producing an estimated $19–30 million worth of gold. For a time, Confederate Gulch was the largest community in Montana. In 1866, Montana had a total population of 28,000, and of these, about 10,000 (35%) were working in Confederate Gulch.
Chico is an unincorporated community in Park County, Montana, United States. The population of Chico was 15 as of 2010. Chico currently shares a postal ZIP code 59027 with nearby Emigrant. The community is sometimes called "Old Chico", to distinguish it from the nearby Chico Hot Springs Resort.
The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have reached the U.S. state of Montana on March 14, 2020. As of June 4, 2021, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (MDPHHS) has reported 112,260 positive cases and 1,632 deaths in the state.
Helena travel guide from Wikivoyage Coordinates: 46°35′28″N112°1′13″W / 46.59111°N 112.02028°W