10 Things you didn’t know about Helena Montana

Following on from our posts about Denver and Minneapolis, here are 10 things you didn’t know about Helena, Montana, the state capital.

Montana is the 4th largest state by area in the USA. It is big enough to fit Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York, as well as the District of Columbia inside.

However, it’s only the 44th biggest in population with just over 1m inhabitants, and there are only 7 people per square mile. Unsurprisingly, there are more cows than people in Montana.

Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Helena, Montana.

1. Location

Helena is located between Yellowstone National Park in the South of Montana and Flathead National Forest in the North, and is the county seat of Lewis and Clark County.

2. Helena Montana was founded by accident in 1864

In 1864 four Georgia men decided to search for gold one last time, and named the place Last Chance Gulch.

Many more miners heard about it thanks to people finding gold, and moved here, quickly turning it into a boom town.

Helena became the territorial capital in 1875, and was almost called Pumpkinville or Squashtown.

However, as most of the miners were Minnesotans, it was named after Saint Helena in Minnesota, and shortly after, the Saint was dropped.

3. Millionaires

By the end of the 19th century Helena had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the world.

This is perhaps unsurprising considering that Helena was built on gold.

This wealth also saw lots of impressive Victorian buildings in and around Helena.

4. Population

The 2016 population of Helena was around 28,000.

Only Frankfort, Kentucky, (28,000 approx) , Augusta, Maine (19,000 approx), Pierre, South Dakota, (15,000 approx) and Montpellier Vermont, (8,000 approx) have similar or smaller state capital populations.

The population of the Helena Metropolitan Statistical Area is around 77,000.

5. Outdoor activities.

Helena is well known by those who enjoy the great outdoors.

From outdoor activities like hunting and fishing, to skiing and cycling, there’s plenty to see and do here.

You’ll find around 75 miles of mountain biking and hiking trails around Helena.

6. Climate

Spring Summer and Fall are beautiful here in Helena, and so ideal for all the outdoor activities.

Winter is cold, but with plenty of skiing, snowboarding and other winter activities just a short drive away, you can have fun outdoors all year round.

The coldest month in Helena is January with overnight temperatures of around 10°F and the warmest is July with daytime temperatures of around 83°F.

The wettest month is June with around 1.8 inches of rain and the driest is February with around 0.38 inches of rain.

7. Hot Springs

A hot spring is a geothermally heated natural water source that rises from the crust of the earth. Some hot springs are safe for bathing, and others are too hot.

There are over 60 natural hot springs, and around 15 commercial hot springs in Montana, so if you’ve never tried sitting in naturally heated water before, you can here.

Thanks to the claimed therapeutic and medical benefits, hot springs are popular destinations for tourists, and those with certain medical conditions or disabilities.

8. Helenans turn their Christmas trees into fish homes

The Pines for Perch program sees old Christmas trees turned into fish homes on Canyon Ferry Lake.

The trees are collected, and chained together and then dropped in Canyon Ferry Lake by helicopter in early spring, to create a spawning habitat for small fish.

Unfortunately this program is suspended at the moment as invasive mussels have been found at the nearby Tiber reservoir.

9. Helena was once home to the largest indoor swimming pool

The Natatorium at the Hotel Broadwater was filled by more than 1m gallons of hot spring water every day.

Unfortunately this iconic Helena landmark was damaged by earthquakes in 1935, knocked down in 1946, and the hotel was demolished in 1974.

10. Notable People

Helena was home for several notable people including:

  • The founder of Scientology L. Ron Hubbard
  • Actors Gary Cooper and Dirk Benedict
  • Musicians Isaac Brock and Charley Pride

And many more besides, such as well-known scientists, writers, politicians and sports people too.

Despite having a very small population compared to other cities, never mind state capitals, Helena has a some world famous former residents.


Whilst there may be much to celebrate about Helena’s past , there’s a lot to look forward to as well.

With the exciting outdoor activities, and plenty of space, there’s something for everyone. If you’ve had enough of long commutes, big cities, and people everywhere, then Helena might just be the place for you.

Whether you’ve just moved to the area, or are a born and bred Helenan, if you want to improve your home, or need some essential home repairs in Montana doing, we’d love to hear from you.

Why not find out more about our Montana Home Maintenance Service or Contact Us at 877-ROOF-310 to tell us what we can do for you and your home?