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Missoula is the second largest city in Montana, after Billings, and the seat of government for Missoula County. The city was established near the confluence of the Clark Fork River with the Bitterroot River in the western part of the state, at a place where five mountain ranges meet. Missoula was founded in 1860 as Hellgate Trading Post, at a time when the area was still part of Washington Territory. By 1866, the settlement had moved five miles upstream, along the Clark Fork River, and was known as Missoula Mills, which was later shortened to Missoula. “Missoula” is an adaptation of the American Indian name for the place, which was "Nemissoolatakoo", which translated "river of ambush". Fort Missoula, built in 1877, helped to stabilize the economy, and the community’s growth was further spurred when the Northern Pacific Railways extended its tracks to Missoula in 1883. Ten years later, Montana’s first university was established in Missoula. Prominent people who have lived in Missoula include Joseph M. Dixon, the seventh governor of Montana, John Elway, a pro football Hall of Fame quarterback, and the actor Carroll O’Connor. Missoula is southeast of Grass Valley and Frenchtown, and west of Bonner.

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