1. Get Deals:
Show Menu

Area History


People have lived in Bozeman for thousands of years, and even today it is considered one of the most popular destinations in the state. The very first people to inhabit the area were a mix of the indigenous Native American tribes, including the Shoshone, Blackfeet, Nez Perce, and the Sioux. Members of the Salish confederation of tribes from the Northwest also settled in this area.

Bozeman was once a very rugged place that was characterized by deep forests, mountainous terrain, and stunning valleys. The climate was conducive for big game and the native peoples survived by living off the fruits of the land and by following the big game animals. In the spring, the runoff from the mountains would frequently cause the rivers to become swollen, making travel very dangerous. The tribes managed to survive however and soon, more settlers began arriving.

The first settlers were fur trappers drawn by the game. However, many of the early settlers were Jesuit priests, that were requested by the tribes. Father Peter de Smet is the most notable missionary that worked in this area, serving the tribes for many years. As the trappers became wealthy, outposts sprang up and more people began arriving in the area. This resulted in most of the tribes being forced to leave the area, although a few would be allowed to stay in their own lands for a time. After gold was discovered in the West, however, most of the Indians were removed from the area.

In 1863, a man named John Bozeman started the Bozeman Trail and the town that sprang up would eventually take his name. Settlers continued to flood into the area and the land became rich with cattle ranches and other industries. Agriculture remains a big part of the town’s economy to this day. Fort Ellis was built to protect homesteaders in the late 1880’s and with the addition of a Northern Pacific Railway station, the town was firmly solidified.

In 1915, the town got their first post office and growth continued more slowly. The area is most known as being the location for Robert Redford’s film, A River Runs Through It. This spurred a new surge in popularity for the town and soon it became a favorite destination of tourists who were inspired by the movie’s fly fishing scenes and the natural beauty of the area. Resorts opened and the population underwent another boom. Numerous celebrities have ranches in the area and visit the town on a regular basis.

Since A River Runs Through It, Bozeman has been featured in many different movies and is an integral part of pop culture. Travelers from all over the world come to experience all that the town has to offer and tourism now plays a very important part of the local economy. There are plenty of winter and summer activities in the region for the entire family and many prefer this city over all the others in Montana, thanks to its location and rare scenery.