Montana Historical Society

Big Sky. Big Land. Big History.

The Great Montana History Exam — Questions

PART I.  Fill-in-the-blank

Using the information provided in each statement, supply the most likely answer.

  1. Identify the three rivers that combine near Three Forks to form the Missouri River.
  2. The record low temperature for the continental United States was recorded in Montana. What was the temperature? Where and when was it recorded?
  3. Name the legendary American author, humorist, and storyteller who toured Montana in 1895 to mixed review and theater audiences of varying sizes.
  4. A temporary White House was established for President Teddy Roosevelt when he visited Montana in 1902. At what town was it located?
  5. What is generally considered to be Montana's earliest white settlement?
  6. Name the University of Montana graduate who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
  7. What were the three communities that served as territorial capitals for Montana?
  8. In 1968 Elvis Presley starred in a movie that was loosely based on a novel by a Great Falls author.  What was the name of the movie and the book? Who was the author?
  9. On what date was the Dempsey-Gibbons heavyweight championship fight staged in Shelby? Who won the fight?
  10. Identify the Montana territorial secretary and acting territorial governor who died mysteriously at the Fort Benton levee in 1867?
  11. What Montana city inspired crime author Dashiell Hammett to write Red Harvest (1929)?
  12. Name this Helena suffragist who delivered street-corner speeches, worked as Jeannette Rankin's secretary in Washington, D.C., advocated peace, raised a family, ran for the state Senate in 1932, and invented cardboard picture frames, Kleenex boxes, and Cheerios shaped like numbers.
  13. What was the first incorporated town in Montana?
  14. What Montana newspaper editor won the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the devastating 1964 floods? For what paper did he write?
  15. Ronald Reagan and Barbara Stanwyk starred in a 1954 movie that was both set and filmed in Montana? What is the name of the movie?
  16. According to local legend, a huge underwater monster lives in what large body of Montana water?
  17. From October 3 through October 31 of what year was the Helena area rocked by an extended series of devastating earthquakes?
  18. Identify the U.S. Senator from Montana who was selected in 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to become his U.S. Attorney General.  However, this leader died on his honeymoon, two days prior to assuming his post.
  19. In what year did Montana experience a raucous, corrupt, and grossly expensive election to determine the permanent location of the state capital? Name the two communities that faced off in the contest.
  20. Name the turn-of-the-century terrorist who tried to extort thousands of dollars from the Northern Pacific Railroad by performing a series of dynamite bombings statewide. After a frantic chase, he committed suicide in the stairwell of Governor Joseph K. Toole's mansion in 1904.
  21. Montana is the fourth largest state in the Union, comprising 147,138 square miles or almost 95 million acres; it averages 550 miles from east to west and 275 miles from north to south. Name the three states that are larger than Montana.
  22. Curiously Montana's state motto—Oro y Plata—is rendered in Spanish. What is the English translation of this phrase?
  23. Montana's most distinguished statesman was a U.S. representative, the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, and an ambassador to Japan. Identify this outstanding politician.
  24. Name the states and the Canadian provinces that share a common boundary with Montana.
  25. Identify the Blackfoot mixed-blood who was the first woman to hold an elective office in Montana. She gained this distinction by winning the post of Lewis and Clark County superintendent of schools in 1882.
  26. Montana's river systems ultimately empty into what three bodies of water?
  27. In what year did women receive the vote in Montana?
  28. Name the seven Indian reservations in Montana.
  29. Identify the three major dam projects constructed in Montana for irrigation, electric power, and recreation.
  30. In what years did Captains Lewis and Clark lead their expedition through Montana?
  31. What native Montanan (later a Billings car dealer) was the only pitcher to hit a grand-slam homerun in World Series history?
  32. Name the three entrances to Yellowstone National Park that are located in Montana.
  33. Who is the Montana author who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1950 for The Way West?
  34. The Museum of the Plains Indian is located in what Montana community?
  35. What was designated Montana's first state park?
  36. Name the five dams located at Great Falls, running downstream.
  37. What is the title of Charlie Russell's mural masterpiece, located in the House chamber of the Montana Capitol.
  38. Identify the official Montana state tree.
  39. Montana's first college—called the Montana Collegiate Institute—was established in what community?
  40. In what year did Montana have three governors?


PART II. Matching

Place the Montana community on the left in its correct county.

Community County
Angela Fergus
Laurin Carbon
Hogeland Ravalli
Warren Rosebud
Mill Iron Flathead
Polebridge Madison
Maxville Toole
Danvers Granite
Ferdig Carter
Sula Blaine

PART III. Multiple Choice

From the possibilities provided, select the most correct answer.

(51) The official Montana state grass is:

(a) bluebunch wheatgrass
(b) rough fescue
(c) Kentucky bluegrass
(d) little bluestem

(52) The still-extant name inscribed on Pompey's Pillar in 1806 is:

(a) Meriwether Lewis
(b) Sacajawea
(c) York
(d) William Clark

(53) What is the only decade during which Montana lost population?

(a) 1910s
(b) 1920s
(c) 1950s
(d) 1980s

(54) Montana gained statehood in 1889 and joined the Union as which state?

(a) the 13th
(b) the 39th
(c) the 40th
(d) the 41st 

(55) The first transcontinental railroad completed through Montana, in 1883, was:

(a) the Utah and Northern
(b) the Northern Pacific
(c) the Great Northern
(d) the Milwaukee Road

(56) Montana's "Hard Winter," which devastated its livestock herds and revolutionized the industry, occurred in:

(a) 1854-1855
(b) 1878-1879
(c) 1886-1887
(d) 1898-1899

(57) "Fort Fizzle," along the route of the Nez Perce retreat in 1877, is located near:

(a) Missoula
(b) Kalispell
(c) Bozeman
(d) Dillon

(58) What Montana county originally was named Edgerton County?

(a) Cascade
(b) Missoula
(c) Yellowstone
(d) Lewis and Clark

(59) On July 4 of what year was the Montana State Capitol dedicated?

(a) 1889
(b) 1899
(c) 1902
(d) 1912

(60) The smallest Montana county, in square miles, is:

(a) Liberty
(b) Silver Bow
(c) Lake
(d) Wibaux

(61) Montana is frequently called "Big Sky Country," but it also is known as:

(a) the Marmot State
(b) the Treasure State
(c) Land of the Moonbeams
(d) the Last Best State

(62) A major earthquake killed 28 people in the Hebgen Lake area of the upper Madison Valley in what year?

(a) 1959
(b) 1964
(c) 1969
(d) 1971

(63) What Montana author built a reputation on such works as Smokey, All in a Day's Riding, Cow Country, and his autobiographical Lone Cowboy?

(a) Ivan Doig
(b) Charlie Russell
(c) Teddy Blue Abbott
(d) Will James

(64) The 1952 movie "Red Skies Over Montana," starring Richard Widmark and Jeffrey Hunter, was loosely based on what tragic 1949 forest fire?

(a) the Bear Dance Fire
(b) the Cinch Creek Fire
(c) the Mann Gulch Fire
(d) the Blue Mountain Fire

(65) One of Montana's great Indian leaders was Plenty Coups (1848-1932), who counseled cooperation with the whites and emphasized education. What tribe did Plenty Coups represent?

(a) Blackfeet
(b) Northern Cheyenne
(c) Crow
(d) Sioux

(66) For all practical purposes, the buffalo was eradicated from the Montana plains by the year:

(a) 1856
(b) 1864
(c) 1877
(d) 1884

(67) In 1863 Sheriff Henry Plummer led a gang of thieves and desperadoes that terrorized the gold camps of Montana. Plummer's gang was called:

(a) the Innocents
(b) the Vigilantes
(c) the Bad Guys
(d) the Night Riders

(68) What was the name of the first steamboat to reach Fort Benton, arriving in 1860?

(a) the Willow
(b) the Block P
(c) the Chippewa
(d) the Sister Jane

(69) In 1997 the Montana legislature authorized the state's purchase of what Montana communities?

(a) Coram/Hungry Horse
(b) Silver Gate/Cooke City
(c) Georgetown/Southern Cross
(d) Virginia City/Nevada City

(70) What "great experiment" did Montana voters approve in 1916 and repeal in 1926?

(a) a $5 bounty on each gopher
(b) the prohibition of alcohol
(c) driving on the left side of the road
(d) the regulation of sugar

PART IV. Essay

In the time remaining, discuss the following question to the best of your ability.

Noted Montana historian Michael P. Malone considered the state's homestead "boom" (1909-1918) "the most far-reaching, revolutionary development in the state's entire history." Discuss on what basis Dr. Malone made this statement.

Check your answers.