Located in the western part of the state of Montana and a city and seat of Missoula County, the city is located in Clark Fork at the Columbia River, at Bitterroot River’s mouth, near the Bitterroot Range in the broad valley. The first white settler in the area founded the St. Mary’s Mission at the neighboring Stevensville. Missoula started as a trading post along Mullan Road, a wilderness trail that is located between Fort Benton, Montana, and Walla Walla, Washington. The area was formerly called Hellgate Village, wherein the etymology of the name at the present is uncertain but it was thought that it was derived from a Salish Indian phrase that means “cold water.” The area’s development started when it became a division point on the Northern Pacific Railway and the eventual founding in 1893 of the University of Montana.
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