Introduction to Great Falls, Montana
Great Falls is situated next to the Missouri River in Cascade County. The name was given due to the collection of water falls which the members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition encountered. The city is surrounded by mountains on three sides and expansive plains on the north side. Great Falls is also known as the "Electric City" which is attributed to the five hydroelectric dams located along the Missouri River. The nearby Roe River is recognized as the shortest river in the world. Malstrom Air Force Base and the 341 Space Wing are located in the town.
Great Falls was founded in 1883 by Paris Gibson and railroad tycoon James J. Hill. The city was established to generate power from the nearby waterfalls. In the early days it was known as a businessman's town. Industries and the supply business were flourishing. The Anaconda Copper Mining Company was the largest employer.
Significant growth occurred with the construction of a military base in the 1940s. However, during the late portion of the century, declines in the rail transportation business and the farming population as well as the shutting down of the smelter reduced the city's population. In 1950 a citizen filmed what he perceived to be a UFO. The claim received national attention and is considered to be one of the first major UFO incidents in the country.
Entertainment and Nightlife
The popular Sip and Dip bar features mermaids that swim around in a see-through pool. Other popular nightspots include Stein Haus, Brick Sports Pub and The Other Place. Sports enthusiasts enjoy the Great Falls Explorers of the Continental Basketball League and the Great Falls Voyagers baseball team.
The Mansfield Center for the Performing Arts is utilized for social events and for a wide variety of entertainment. The building is a national historic landmark. The popular River Fest includes live entertainment, art shows, water sports events and other activities. The PRCA Montana Circuit Finals Rodeo and the Lewis and Clark Festival are noteworthy events. Citizens and visitors enjoy the music concerts of the Great Falls Symphony Association.
- Children's Museum of Montana
- Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
- Malstrom Air Force Base Museum
- C.M. Rusell Museum features the home of Charlie Russell, the renowned cowboy artist
- First Friday Art Walk
- The Cowboy Museum is an authentic log cabin and contains a vast number of artifacts
- Giant Springs Heritage State Park includes one of the biggest natural cold water springs in the entire world
- The city's water falls are notable attractions
- Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art is an attractive structure made from sandstone and is a National Historic Landmark
- Cascade County Historical Society Museum features exhibits on the history of the region's cowboys
The region provides opportunities for hunting big game and birds. Hunting guides are available. Fly fishing is popular at the numerous streams and rivers. Golf enthusiasts enjoy the city's golf courses including Emerald Greens Golf Club. Guided tours are available for hiking the Lewis and Clark Trail. Riding the trolley in the historic downtown is popular with tourists. The Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge is situated on a large acreage and is popular for wildlife photography.
The city is served by the Great Falls International Airport.