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Helena is the capital city of Montana and the county seat of Lewis and Clark County. The area has been inhabited for more than ten thousand years, first by the people of the Folsom culture then, until the arrival of European-Americans, the Salish and Blackfeet tribes. People of European descent came from the United States and British Canada in the early 19th century, but they didn’t settle permanently until the 1860s, when gold strikes in the Idaho Territory brought migrants to the area, so many that the U.S. government created the Montana Territory in 1864. That same year, the discovery of gold by a prospecting group known as the Four Georgians led to the creation of a mining camp along a small creek in the area they called Last Chance Gulch, and the settlement became known as Last Chance. When new settlers expressed a dislike for that name, several new names were proposed, but they settled on Helena. The town site was surveyed in 1865, but several original streets had already been created, following the chaotic paths of the miners, going around claims, and following the winding gulch, so most of its streets are not consistent in size. By 1888, there were about fifty millionaires living in Helena, mostly due to gold strikes. Helena was named the capital of Montana Territory in 1875, and of the state of Montana since 1889. Notable residents of Helena, throughout history, have included James Earp, Wyatt’s brother, as well as Gary Cooper, the actor, and L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, and the country singer, Charlie Pride.


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