Great Falls, headquarters for the state’s agricultural industry, straddles the Missouri River where a series of waterfalls once roared. Not only did it receive its name from these cascading falls but today’s hydroelectric power harnessed by dams gave the city another nickname: the "Electric City."
One of the most extraordinary chapters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was the legendary portage of the Great Falls, which is the present site of Ryan Dam. At first sight, Meriwether Lewis proclaimed the falls a "sublimely grand spectacle" but later bemoaned them when Lewis and Clark stalled at this site for almost a month. They were required to portage 18 miles around the falls before continuing upriver which took two weeks to cover a distance normally traveled by water in a single day.
Great Falls, with a population of about 60,000, is the second-largest city in Montana. Located near the center of the state, Great Falls is a windy city averaging 13 mph winds all day. It has roots as a regional trade center and is the resting place for 200 long-range missiles, as well as a modern center of national air defense. It is considered to have a very diversified economy with the river supporting thriving wheat and barley crop on the northern hills.
The mountains surrounding the city also provide exceptional recreational opportunities; some of the finest and most readily accessible hunting and fishing in the country lie near Great Falls. There are endless possibilities for camping, hiking, boating, water skiing, and fishing.
Montana’s north-central region was named the Russell Country after the cowboy artist who captured the vast and vivid landscapes on canvas. Great Falls is the adopted home for Charles M. Russell, the nation’s most acclaimed frontier painter. Russell loved the west and created over 4,000 works of art. Great Falls has preserved the most complete collection of his art in the C. M. Russell Museum; the museum complex also includes Russell’s log-cabin studio and house. Great Falls’ natural beauty is enhanced by the artistic flavor of the world-renowned C. M. Russell Museum, a well-established symphony, and four professional theater groups.
Great Falls offers extraordinary sights and experiences that thrilled and inspired Lewis & Clark as well as Charles Russell. Discover the natural wonders and visit the special monuments which bear tribute to a rich heritage. Don’t miss the Ulm Pishkun Buffalo Jump or the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.