Great Falls, MT : Travel Guide
Great Falls is an interesting city. I first began to like Great Falls during my first visit to the city way back in the mid-1990’s. I was just passing through, moving out to Idaho, when the local police pulled me over for running a red light. Oops.
Happily, the officer glanced at my Toyota pickup truck, my New Mexico license plates (I was moving from NM to ID the rather long way via Wisconsin), asked me if I saw the light (nope!), and then asked if I was wanted (NO!). He then sent me on my way one minute later, with no warning or ticket.
Pleasant experiences like this make cities memorable in good ways for many people. As such, when I moved to Montana several years later in 1999 (to Whitefish), I looked forward to returning to Great Falls, paying closer attention for those hidden red traffic lights, of course.
For those unfamiliar with Great Falls, it lies about 50 miles due east of the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains (which are faintly visible on the western horizon if you make your way out of downtown). Great Falls itself is named for the series of waterfalls that is found along the Missouri River, which runs right through the heart of town. These waterfalls on the Missouri River, which constitute a drop of over 500 vertical feet in just 18 miles, is what gave Lewis & Clark such a hard time on their trip up the Missouri River in July 1805, during their famed expedition.
Great Falls sits near the geographical center of Montana, which means that it is a long way to any place else once you live town. A traveler going east out of Great Falls will be cutting through the heart of the western prairie – with few towns of any size to be found until you reach well in North Dakota (like Bismarck or Minot!). The small towns that are found scattered throughout the prairie that lies to the east of Great Falls are primarily agricultural towns – many of which have shrinking populations. These towns and counties – always thinly populated to being with – have been losing population (in real terms) over the last 30 years, as residents pack up and move to either larger cities in Montana or other cities in the US.
Next Page : History of Great Falls, Montana
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