Hell Gate & Missoula

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59215,Missoula Area

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Historical Markers/Interpretive SignHistoric Sites
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General info

Location: East of Missoula

In the Indian days the mountain tribes had a road through here which led across the Continental Divide to the buffalo. The Blackfeet, from the plains, used to consider it very sporting to slip into this country on horse-stealing expeditions and to ambush the Nez Perce and Flathead Indians in this narrow part of the canyon. Funeral arrangements were more or less sketchy in those days even amongst friends, so naturally, enemies got very little consideration. In time the place became so cluttered with skulls and bones that it was gruesome enough to make an Indian exclaim “Isul” expressing surprise and horror. The French trappers elaborated and called it “La Porte d’Enfer” or Gate of Hell.

From these expressions were derived the present-day names Missoula and Hell Gate. If the latter name depresses you it may be encouraging to know that Paradise is just 79 miles northwest of here.

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