|Lewis and Clark came through the Missoula Valley in 1805, but it wasn't
until 1860 that Europeans settled here (although a Jesuit priest, DeSmet,
opened a mission south in the Bitterroot Valley in 1841).
Before settlers arrived, Western Montana was home to the Salish, Pend d'Oreille, and Kootenai tribes.
In 1860, C.P. Higgins and F.L. Worden opened a trading market that they
called the Hellgate Village. (Today you can buy wine, espresso and huge
deli sandwiches at Wordens Market on Higgins Street downtown). The name
hellgate came from French trappers, who found carnage from warfare, including
bones and bodies, in the canyon on the east edge of town. The Blackfeet
and Flathead used the close confines of the canyon to battle one another.
The canyon is still called Hellgate today, but only winter winds are a threat
Be sure to visit our historical "photo album" featuring fifteen photographs of Missoula from the early 1900's.