Helena Travel Guide
  • Photo: Katherine Welles / Shutterstock

Helena

Montana’s state capital is a city of 28,000, with 25 city parks, several museums, a thriving arts community, and its own minor-league baseball team. The southern part of the city, near the state capitol and neighboring museums, mansions, and parks, is hilly and thick with lush greenery in summer. This quiet town started as a rowdy mining camp in 1864 and became a banking and commerce center in the Montana Territory. At the turn of the 20th century Helena had more millionaires per capita than any other town in the country. Some of that wealth came from ground now occupied by Main Street: called Last Chance Gulch, it was the first of several gulches that yielded more than $15 million in gold during the late 1800s. With statehood came a fight between the towns of Anaconda and Helena over which would be the capital. In a notoriously corrupt campaign in which both sides bought votes, Helena won. The iron ball of urban renewal has since robbed the town of much of its history, but Helena still has ornate brick-and-granite historic buildings along Last Chance Gulch.

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