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5 Fun Facts About January 12 In Montana History

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1. In 1793, explorer Alexander Mackenzie reached the Pacific Ocean. Mackenzie’s expedition is notable for being the first European crossing of North America north of Mexico, and he named several landmarks in Montana, such as the Milk River and the Rocky Mountains.

2. In 1865, the Montana Territory was established by a bill signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. Montana helped supply Union troops and was also a source of gold for the Union. When the territory was first formed, it consisted of a vast area that included parts of present-day Wyoming, South Dakota, and Idaho.

3. In 1888, the Montana State Penitentiary opened its doors in Deer Lodge. The prison was infamous for its harsh conditions, and it was the site of the only documented escape attempt by the notorious Wild Bunch gang. The penitentiary closed in 1979, and today it’s a museum.

4. In 1915, the Montana State Capitol building was completed after nine years of construction. The capitol building was designed in a neoclassical style and is characterized by its copper dome. It overlooks Helena, the state capital, and is the hub of Montana’s government.

5. In 1961, Montana State University’s Thermal Biology Institute was established. The Institute was involved in a variety of projects, including testing new methods for coal gasification, developing renewable energy sources, and researching the effects of thermal pollution. Today, the Institute is still active, and it’s now called the Thermal Biology Institute-Center for Biofilm Engineering.
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