Missoula, Montana

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Missoula (pronounced /mɨˈzuːlə/) is a city located in the west-central portion of Montana and is the county seat of Missoula County. The U.S. Census Bureau's 2009 estimate of Missoula's population was 68,876;[1] making the city the second-largest in Montana. The 2009 census estimate put the population of Missoula County at 108,623.[2] Missoula is rapidly growing; it had the second largest actual growth of any city in Montana with an increase in population of 11,823 since 2000.[3] Missoula is the principal city of the Missoula Metropolitan Area.

Missoula was founded in 1860 as Hellgate Trading Post before being renamed Missoula Mills ("Missoula" from the Salish name for the area, "Nemissoolatakoo," and "Mills" after the prosperous flour mill and sawmill that served as Missoula’s first industry). "Mills" was dropped from the name and in 1877, the establishment of Fort Missoula ensured the survival of the city.[4]

Missoula is nicknamed the "Garden City," in reference to the large number of orchard homes that once lined its periphery and an extensive vegetable and flower garden owned by Cyrus and William McWhirk that formed the eastern entrance to the city.[5][6] Though founded as a lumber and agricultural center as well as a trading post, the basis of Missoula’s modern economy is the University of Montana, government, healthcare, tourism, and professional services.[7]

In addition to the University of Montana, Missoula is perhaps best known for being the most politically liberal city in Montana, the birthplace of first woman elected to the U.S. Congress, Jeannette Rankin, and the home of Montana’s largest brewery. Missoula is also the headquarters of Montana Rail Link.

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