Bozeman is a city in and the county seat of Gallatin County, Montana, United States, in the southwestern part of the state. The 2010 census put Bozeman's population at 37,280 and the 2012 census estimate put the population at 39,860 making it the fourth largest city in the state. It is the principal city of the Bozeman, MT Micropolitan Statistical Area, consisting of all of Gallatin County with a population of 94,720. It is the largest Micropolitan Statistical Area in Montana and is the third largest of all of Montana’s statistical areas.
The city is named after John M. Bozeman who established the Bozeman Trail and was a key founder of the town in August 1864. The town became incorporated in April 1883 with a city council form of government and later in January 1922 transitioned to its current city manager/city commission form of government. Bozeman was elected an All-America City in 2001 by the National Civic League.
For thousands of years indigenous people of the United States, including the Shoshone, Nez Perce, Blackfeet, Flathead, Crow Nation and Sioux traveled through the area, called the "Valley of the Flowers", although the Gallatin Valley was primarily within the territory of the Crow people.
William Clark visited the area in July 1806 as he traveled east from Three Forks along the Gallatin River. The party camped east of what is now Bozeman, at the mouth of Kelly Canyon. The journal entries from Clark's party briefly describe the future city's location.
In 1863 John Bozeman, along with a partner named John Jacobs, opened the Bozeman Trail, a new northern trail off the Oregon Trail leading to the mining town of Virginia City through the Gallatin Valley and the future location of the city of Bozeman.
John Bozeman, with Daniel Rouse and William Beall platted the town in August 1864, stating "standing right in the gate of the mountains ready to swallow up all tenderfeet that would reach the territory from the east, with their golden fleeces to be taken care of". Red Cloud's War closed the Bozeman Trail in 1868, but the town's fertile land attracted permanent settlers.
In 1866 Nelson Story, a successful Virginia City, Montana, gold miner originally from Ohio entered the cattle business. Story braved the hostile Bozeman Trail to successfully drive ~1000 head of longhorn cattle into Paradise Valley just east of Bozeman. Eluding the U.S. Army, who tried to turn Story back to protect the drive from hostile Indians, Story's cattle formed one of the earliest significant herds in Montana's cattle industry. Story established a sizable ranch in the Paradise Valley and holdings in the Gallatin Valley. He later donated land to the state for the establishment of Montana State University – Bozeman.
Fort Ellis , el. was established in 1867 by Captain R. S. LaMotte and two companies of the 2nd Cavalry, after the mysterious death of John Bozeman near the mouth of Mission Creek on Yellowstone River , and considerable political disturbance in the area led local settlers and miners to feel a need for added protection. The fort, named for Gettysburg casualty Colonel Augustus Van Horne Ellis, was decommissioned in 1886 and few remnants are left at the actual site, now occupied by the Fort Ellis Experimental Station of Montana State University. In addition to Fort Ellis, a short-lived fort, Fort Elizabeth Meagher (also simply known as Fort Meagher), was established in 1867 by volunteer militiamen. This fort was located eight miles (13 km) east of town on Rocky Creek., el.
The first issue of the weekly Avant Courier newspaper, the precursor of today's Bozeman Chronicle was published in Bozeman on September 13, 1871.
Bozeman's main cemetery, Sunset Hills Cemetery, was gifted to the city in 1872 when the English lawyer and philanthropist William Henry Blackmore purchased the land after his wife Mary Blackmore died of pneumonia in Bozeman in July 1872.
The first library in Bozeman was formed by the Young Men's Library Association in a room above a drugstore in 1872. It later moved to the mayor's office and was taken over by the city in 1890.
In 1892 the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries established a fish hatchery on Bridger Creek at the entrance to Bridger Canyon. The fourth oldest fish hatchery in the United States, the facility ceased to be primarily a hatchery in 1966 and became the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Bozeman National Fish Hatchery, later a fish technology and fish health center. The Center receives approximately 5000 visitors a year observing biologists working on diet testing, feed manufacturing technology, fish diseases, brood stock development and improvement of water quality.
Montana State University - Bozeman was established in 1893 as the state's land-grant college, then named the Agricultural College of the State of Montana. By the 1920s, the institution was known as Montana State College, and in 1965 it became Montana State University.
Bozeman's first high school, the Gallatin Valley High School, was built on West Main Street in 1902. Later known as Willson School, named for notable Bozeman architect Fred Fielding Willson, son of Lester S. Willson, the building still stands today and functions as administrative offices for the Bozeman School District.
In the early 20th century, over of the Gallatin Valley were planted in edible peas harvested for both canning and seed. By the 1920s, canneries in the Bozeman area were major producers of canned peas, and at one point Bozeman produced approximately 75% of all seed peas in the United States. The area was once known as the "Sweet Pea capital of the nation" referencing the prolific edible pea crop. To promote the area and celebrate its prosperity, local business owners began a "Sweet Pea Carnival" that included a parade and queen contest. The annual event lasted from 1906 to 1916. Promoters used the inedible but fragrant and colorful sweet pea flower as an emblem of the celebration. In 1977 the "Sweet Pea" concept was revived as an arts festival rather than a harvest celebration, growing into a three-day event that is one of the largest festivals in Montana.
The first federal building and Post Office was built in 1915. Many years later, while empty, it was a film location, along with downtown Bozeman, in A River Runs Through It (1992) by Robert Redford, starring Brad Pitt. It is now used by HRDC, a community organization.
The Bridger Bowl Ski Area operates as a 501(c)(4) organization by the Bridger Bowl Association, and is located on the northeast face of the Bridger Mountains, utilizing state and federal land. Bridger Bowl was Bozeman's first ski area and opened to the public in 1955. In 1973 news anchorman Chet Huntley created the Big Sky Ski Resort off Gallatin Canyon south of Bozeman. The resort has grown considerably since 1973 into a residential community and major winter tourist destination.
In 1986 the site of the Idaho Pole Co. on Rouse Avenue, was designated a Superfund site and placed on the National Priorities List. Idaho Pole treated wood products with creosote and pentachlorophenol on the site between 1945 and 1997.
The Museum of the Rockies was created in 1957 as the gift from Butte physician Caroline McGill and is a part of Montana State University and an affiliate institution of the Smithsonian. It is Montana's premier natural and cultural history museum and houses permanent exhibits on dinosaurs, geology and Montana history, as well as a planetarium and a living history farm. Paleontologist Jack Horner is the museum's curator of palentology and brought national notice to the museum for his fossil discoveries in the 1980s.
Bozeman receives a steady influx of new residents and visitors in part due to its plentiful recreational activities such as fly fishing, hiking, whitewater kayaking, and mountain climbing. Additionally, Bozeman is a gateway community through which visitors pass on the way to Yellowstone National Park and its abundant wildlife and thermal features. The showcasing of spectacular scenery and the western way of life the area received from films set nearby, such as A River Runs Through It and The Horse Whisperer, have also served to draw people to the area.
In the past forty years, Bozeman has grown from the sixth- to the fourth-largest city in the state. The area attracts new residents due to quality of life, scenery, and nearby recreation. In August 2010, Bozeman was selected by Outside as the best place to live in the west for skiing.
Growth in the Gallatin Valley prompted the Gallatin Airport Authority to authorize a major expansion of the Gallatin Field Airport with two new gates, an expanded passenger screening area, and a third baggage carousel. Gallatin Field was subsequently renamed Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.