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Great Falls is the county seat of Cascade County, Montana. It was the largest city in Montana from 1950 to 1970, when Billings surpassed it, after which it was the second largest city in the state until 2000, when it was passed by Missoula, and it is now the third largest city in the state. Great Falls was named for a series of five waterfalls in close proximity along the Upper Missouri River basin which had to be portaged by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, although today each of the falls includes a hydroelectric dam. The first European-Americans known to have visited the region were the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In 1822, Jim Bridger was attacked by Blackfeet Indians while camping on the site of the future city. The area didn’t begin to be settled until the mid-1800s, after the Treaty of Hellgate was negotiated, although it wasn’t founded until 1883, when Paris Gibson and Robert Vaughn platted a settlement on the south side of the river, its first citizen being Silas Beachley, who arrived later that year. Great Falls was incorporated in 1886. Great Falls is southeast of Vaughn and northeast of Riverdale and Cascade.


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