Missoula is a city located in western Montana and is the county seat of Missoula County. Missoula is the principal city of the Missoula Metropolitan Area. Since 1920 Missoula has seen a steady pace of growth. In 2000 Missoula became the second largest city in Montana.Missoula was founded in 1860 as Hellgate Trading Post before being renamed Missoula Mills "Mills" was dropped from the name and in 1877, the establishment of Fort Missoula ensured the survival of the city.Missoula is nicknamed the "Garden City" in reference to the large number of orchard homes that once lined its periphery and an extensive vegetable and flower garden owned by Cyrus and William McWhirk that formed the eastern entrance to the city.
Parks and Recreation
Missoula's location in a river valley surrounded by mountains on all sides as well as its history has had a great influence on the development of the city's parks and recreation activities. Today the city boasts over 400 acres of parkland, 22 miles of trails, and nearly 5000 acres of open-space conservation land. Located at the confluence of three rivers (the Clark Fork, Bitterroot, and Blackfoot), the area is also popular for white water rafting and, thanks largely to the novel and subsequent film A River Runs Through It by Missoula native Norman Maclean, is well known for its fly fishing. Additionally, Missoula has two aquatic parks, multiple golf courses, is home to the Adventure Cycling Association, and hosts what Runner's World called the "best overall" marathon in the nation. There are also three ski areas within 100 miles: Montana Snowbowl, Discovery Ski Area, and Lost Trail Powder Mountain. Slightly farther away are Lookout Pass, Blacktail Mountain, and Big Mountain.
A system of public parks was developed in Missoula in 1902 with the donation of 42 acres along the Rattlesnake Creek for 'Greenough Park' by lumber baron Thomas Greenough and his wife Tessie. They simply asked that “the land forever be used as a park and for park purposes to which the people of Missoula may during the heated days of summer, the beautiful days of autumn, and the balmy days of spring find a comfortable, romantic and poetic retreat” with a follow-up nine years later in a letter to the Missoulian stressing his interest in having the park remain in as close to a native state as possible. Today, that request along with the discovery that non-native Norway Maples were inhibiting the growth of native trees and shrubs such as cottonwoods, ponderosa pines, Rocky Mountain maples led to the controversial decision to remove the beautiful, yet invasive tree from the park with the hope of returning it to its natural state.