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Helena: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

For many years Helena has enjoyed a record of economic stability. It serves as a major governmental center for the county, state, and federal government. It is also a trading and transportation center for nearby livestock, mining, and farming enterprises. In an area rich in silver and lead deposits, Helena maintains an interest in mineral production and processing, and the nearby city of East Helena is the site of smelters, quartz crushers, and zinc reduction works. The Helena area is also a telephone communications center, and industries such as sand and gravel and ranching remain important. Statewide, Montana's fastest-growing industries include education and instruction, waste management, and construction. Specific occupations showing significant growth include textile machinery operation, septic and sewer maintenance, and computer software engineering.

Government positions account for 31 percent of Helena's workforce, while private sector jobs comprise 62 percent. Many of the private businesses rely on the government and its employees as their customers.

Items and goods produced: refined and smelted metals, paints, ceramics, concrete, machine parts, baking products, sheet metal, prefabricated houses, bottled beverages

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

The Montana Business Information Center (BIC) in Helena is a one-stop center that provides a multitude of planning tools as well as free onsite counseling provided by the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and other Small Business Administration resources. The Montana BIC's resources include a reference library, a video center, and a computer lab designed specifically for small business research. The Small Business Administration offers a variety of financing options for small businesses, including long-term loans for machinery and equipment, general working capital loans, revolving lines of credit, and microloans. Similarly, Gateway Economic Development Corp. offers loans and tax rebates to new or expanding businesses in Lewis and Clark County and the surrounding area. The Downtown Helena Business Improvement District offers grants up to $2000 for retailers opening or expanding in the downtown area.

State programs

The state of Montana offers general incentives including net operating loss carry backs and carry forwards, depreciation, and dependent care assistance. New and expanding incentives include license tax credit for new or expanded jobs and reduced property assessments for research and development. Various tax exemptions are available for qualified businesses in research and development, domestic international sales corporations, free port merchandise, and business inventories.

Job training programs

The Small Business Development Center provides training, counseling, research, and other specialized assistance through its Helena office. NxLevel Entrepreneurial Training Programs, available through the Montana Department of Commerce, are in-depth training courses for entrepreneurs and business owners. NxLevel for Entrepreneurs is a 12-session course designed to help existing business owners improve growth and profits. NxLevel for Agricultural Entrepreneurs and NxLevel for Microentrepreneurs are similar programs aimed at new ventures and the self-employed.

Development Projects

Projects currently planned for Helena focus on business development, transportation, and branding. An ongoing downtown revitalization planning process has resulted in suggestions for an outdoor market, building restoration, and increased residential space. The City Commission voted to construct a new traffic lane on the Downtown Walking Mall, and to rename the road leading from the I-90 to downtown Last Chance Gulch (currently the name of the main downtown street only) to improve accessibility for tourists. Other plans call for new or upgraded freeway interchanges and improvements in water quality and availability.

Recently completed projects include the full restoration of the State Capitol building and construction of the Great Northern Town Center, a main street business and shopping district.

Economic Development Information: Small Business Administration-Montana District Office, 10 West 15th Street, Suite 1100, Helena, Montana, 59626; telephone (406)441-1081; fax (406)441-1090. Montana Finance Information Center, 301 S. Park, Helena, MT 59601; telephone (406)841-2732; fax (406)841-2771. Downtown Helena, Inc., 225 Cruse Ave., Suite B, Helena, MT 59601; telephone (406)447-1535. Montana Department of Commerce, PO Box 200501, Helena, MT 59620-0501; telephone (406)841-2700; fax (406)841-2701

Commercial Shipping

Air freight service is provided by FedEx, Airborne Express, and UPS. Freight service is also provided by Montana Rail Link, which provides national coverage in connection with Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The Helena area labor force includes a high percentage of young, educated workers. The percentage of adults in the community who have received high school and college diplomas is considerably higher than the state and national average. Helena's stable economy is based primarily on a range of government agencies and small businesses. Skills in demand include textile machinery operation, septic and sewer maintenance, and computer software engineering. In recent years, growth has been observed in the fields of education and instruction, waste management, and construction.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Montana labor force, 2004 annual averages (Helena figures not available).

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 411,575

Number of workers employed in . . .

natural resources and mining: 7,242

construction: 24,717

manufacturing: 19,100

trade, transportation and utilities: 86,067

information: 7,800

financial activities: 21,058

professional and business services: 33,050

educational and health services: 54,225

leisure and hospitality: 54,458

other services: 17,000

government: 86,917

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14.87

Unemployment rate: 5.5% (January 2005)

Largest private employers Number of employees
St. Peter's Community Hospital 565
Blue Cross/Blue Shield 470
Veterans Administration Hospital 375
Shodair Children's Hospital 220
Qwest 210
Dick Anderson Construction 198
Carroll College 189

Cost of Living

The cost of living for Helena residents is comparable to the national average. According to the Helena Chamber of Commerce, housing, utilities, and goods and services all have lower than average cost. The cost of health care in Helena is slightly higher than the national rate.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Helena area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $218,169

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 96.3 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: 2% to 11% (corporate business tax rate: 6.75%)

State sales tax rate: None

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: None

Property tax rate: 647.74 mills minimum, applies to taxable value as set by the state of Montana

Economic Information: Montana Department of Commerce, Census and Economic Information Center, 301 S. Park Ave., PO Box 200505, Helena, MT 59620-0505; telephone (406)841-2740

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Helena: Recreation


The focal point of sightseeing in Helena is the 17-block Historic Downtown District. In this part of town is found a mix of retail stores, galleries, lodging, restaurants, historic buildings, and entertainment centers. The imposing State Capital Building is constructed of Montana granite and boasts a classic dome made of radiant copper. It now serves as the symbol of Montana. The interior is decorated with murals by artists E.S. Paxon, Charles M. Russell, and others. The meeting of Lewis and Clark with a group of native Americans is depicted in a large mural by Russell.

Tours are offered of several impressive local structures. The original governor's mansion, which was built in 1888 in the Queen Anne style, contains furnishings popular during the early twentieth century. Helena Civic Center, built in 1921, is a Moorish-style edifice with a 175-foot minaret, an onion dome, and intricate exterior brickwork. Just outside Helena to the north is another impressive facility, Fort Harrison, which was once an army garrison and is now a veterans' hospital.

The Montana Historical Society Museum features the C.M. Russell painting collections, as well as temporary exhibits of western art. The Montana Homeland Exhibit portrays Montana history throughout the eras.

The imposing St. Helena Cathedral, with its white marble altar, stained-glass windows, and 230-foot spires, is modeled after famous churches in Austria and Germany. Gold nuggets, gold wire, gold coins, and gold dust are on display at the Gold collection at downtown's Norwest Bank and the Federal Reserve Bank on Neill Avenue. The Guardian of the Gulch is a landmark fire tower built in 1876 and one of just five similar towers remaining in the United States.

Dotting the hillsides on Helena's west side are dozens of stately private homes, built by rich merchants and miners a century ago. The Last Chance Tour Train provides hour-long tours of the city. A guided Missouri riverboat tour follows the path taken by Lewis and Clark nearly two centuries ago. Northeast of Helena, Canyon Ferry Dam offers information and interactive displays of the region's wildlife as well as the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Arts and Culture

A major cultural facility in Helena is the Myrna Loy Center, named after the beloved Montana-born actress. It is housed in the city's 1880s-era former jailhouse, and features performing arts activities, literary events, films, and art shows. The Carroll College Theatre presents live performances throughout the year. The Toadstone Theatre Company offers professional and community childrens' theater and Grand-steet Theatre offers live performances of Broadway shows using community-based volunteers. The Montana Shakespeare Company presents Shakespeare's classics in Performance Park Square, an outdoor venue.

Helena's Holster Museum of Art displays various works of art from historical to contemporary times. It also offers workshops, readings, and discussions. The Archie Bray Foundation for Ceramic Arts, which offers beautiful display pieces for sale, has attained a national reputation for training potters. The Ghost Art Gallery in Helena's old mining district features architecture and themes from nearby ghost towns, as well as western and wildlife art by fine local artists.

Music lovers attend performances of the Helena Symphony; in addition to a regular season of performances by its own chorale of 150 members, it offers community concerts. Four-part harmony is the focus of the Sweet Adelines Performing Chorus.

Festivals and Holidays

Downtown Helena is the site of many special events, including festivals, street dances, theater productions, sled dog races, car rallies, art exhibits, and street fairs. The annual Western Rendezvous of Art takes place in August, featuring art shows, seminars, an auction and a fixed price sale, and a gala awards banquet. Music fills the air in September during the Last Chance Bluegrass Festival, while October is enlivened by Bullfest and Oktoberfest celebrations. November brings the Bald Eagle Migration and Downtown Helena Fall Art Walk, while December hails the holidays with the Festival of Trees and Winter Fair.

The excitement of the Race to the Sky Sled Dog Race warms hearts in February, and children of all ages enjoy April's Railroad Fair and Kite Festival. The Governor's Cup Marathon and the Sleeping Giant Swing 'n Jazz Jubilee draw crowds in June while July brings the excitement of the Last Chance Stampede & Rodeo and the Mt. Helena Music Festival.

Sports for the Spectator

Helena is the home of the Helena Brewers minor league baseball team of the Pioneer League; the Helena Bighorns hockey club, which plays NAHL hockey at the Helena Ice Arena; the Carroll College Fighting Saints; and high school teams that compete in tennis, baseball, football, soccer, hockey, golf, rugby, and basketball.

Sports for the Participant

Within easy access to Helena residents and visitors are millions of acres of public lands, top rated fisheries, and many lakes, rivers, and reservoirs that are used for boating, sailing, wind surfing, and other water sports. Also available are hunting, backpacking, biking, skiing, and snowmobiling. There are more than 25 area parks. Mount Helena City Park and Helena National Forest each have miles of hiking and biking trails. The local recreation department offers facilities for running, racquetball, weight training, and horseback riding. Centennial Waterslide Park is a family-focused indoor facility with slides and swimming pools. Helena Skate Park offers ledges, quarter pipes, and banks with free access for skateboarders and in-line skaters. There are two public golf courses and one private, numerous tennis courts, and several health clubs. Hikers on the Blackfoot Meadows or the Continental Divide trails may spot such wildlife as elk, moose, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, black bears, otters, beavers, and mink.

Shopping and Dining

Helena's largest shopping center is Capital Hill Mall, which is located near the Capital complex and contains 40 specialty shops and two major department stores. What was once the Last Chance Gulch mine is now Helena's main street and a pedestrian mall. Downtown Helena is dotted with specialty shops and galleries, especially throughout the Walking Mall and Reeders' Alley, a complex of red brick buildings from the 1870s that once served as miners' shanties. Principal shopping centers include Northgate Plaza and Lundy Center. Discount shopping can be found at WalMart, Shopko, Target, Big-K and Gibson's.

For a small city, Helena has a varied selection of ethnic dining spots that feature Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Mediterranean, French, German, Italian, and classic American cuisines. Beer lovers can sample local micro brews from the Sleeping Giant Brewery, Kessler Brewery, or Blackfoot River Brewing Company.

Visitor Information: Helena Convention & Visitor Bureau, 225 Cruse Ave., Helena, MT 59601; telephone (406)447-1530 or (800)743-5362

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Helena: History

Land of the Prickly Pear

Archaeological evidence shows that native Americans inhabited the valley in which greater Helena is situated more than 12,000 years ago. Although never serving as the permanent home of any particular tribe, the valley was a crossover area for Salish, Crow, Bannock, and Blackfeet tribal members.

In 1805, members of the Lewis and Clark expedition were the first white men to visit the valley. While investigating the area on foot, William Clark stepped on and had to remove 17 cactus spines from his feet. This caused him to name the nearby creek and valley Prickly Pear. In the early nineteenth century trappers came to the area, later to be pushed aside by groups of white settlers.

In 1862 a group of immigrants in a wagon train decided to build houses for the winter in Prickly Pear Valley, but this settlement proved temporary. In 1864, four ex-Confederate soldiers from Georgia discovered placer gold in Last Chance Gulch, the heart of Helena's present-day downtown. The gold strike attracted hundreds of miners eager to find riches. Over the next 20 years 3.5 billion dollars worth of gold was discovered in the gulch. By 1888 Helena was home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the world.

Early settlers considered naming their new boom town "Pumpkinville" or "Squashtown," but instead settled on the suggestion of John Somerville, who named the place after his hometown of Helena in Minnesota. The inhabitants chose to pronounce it HELL-uh-nuh, with the accent on the first syllable. Its original residents were mainly of English, Scottish, Irish, and German descent.

Becomes Territorial, Then State Capital

By 1870, Helena, with a population of 3,106 people, had become the most important town in the Montana Territory. Other nearby settlements turned into ghost towns after gold supplies were exhausted. But Helena's geographical location helped it become a business hub for other mining communities such as Marysville to the west and Rimini to the southwest. It became a vital bank, trade and farming town.

In the late 1870s the discovery of rich silver and lead deposits in nearby Wickes, Corbin, and Elkhorn further stimulated development in the area and helped Helena grow and prosper. The fact that Helena was on an important stagecoach route also spurred its growth as a hub city.

In 1875 Helena was made the capital of the Montana Territory. When Montana became a state in 1889, citizens disputed whether the capital should be Helena or Anaconda, another popular mining town. Copper rivals Marcus Daly, who supported Anaconda, and William A. Clark, who supported Helena, spent more than $3 million as each fought to have his city chosen for the honor. Helena finally won the vote in 1894. The city soon saw a tremendous amount of new construction. In time, Helena became the center of Montana political, social, and economic life. Between 1880 and 1890, the population grew from 3,624 to 13,834 people.

City Experiences Booms and Busts

By the late 1880s, wealthy Helena citizens had erected pretentious mansions and constructed a streetcar to transport them to the outskirts of town where they lived. They also drove about town, first in coaches driven by top-hatted drivers, and later in electric cars that stalled on the hills. Their Italianate, Romanesque, baroque, and Gothic-style houses featured cupolas, turrets, and hand-carved trim. The inhabitants of the mansions were served by a small army of maids and butlers.

The good times for many of the city's more than 13,000 residents continued until 1893, when the price of silver fell and many of the nouveau riche moved away. The spacious mansions were then taken over by members of the middle class who sometimes had problems paying to heat them. Many of the Mansion District homes can still be viewed today.

Like other Montana towns, Helena experienced boom-or-bust cycles. Prosperity returned once again between 1900 and 1910 when gold mining activity geared up at nearby Marysville and with the construction of the Canyon Ferry, Hauser, and Holter dams on the Missouri River, which employed a number of Helena residents. Then came a slump that lasted until the war years of 1914-1918, when once again the mines worked to meet the demand for metals during World War I. But another slump followed.

Helena in the Twentieth Century and Beyond

In the first part of the twentieth century, Helena's population showed modest growth, rising from 12,515 people in 1910 to 15,056 by 1940. This growth occurred despite several major fires and a 1935 earthquake that caused four deaths and $4 million in damages. Shocks of lesser intensity occurred in 1936 and 1937 but did no further harm.

During the mid-1930s, at the time of the Great Depression, the federal government employed hundreds of Helena citizens to repair the State Capitol and the county courthouse and to landscape a city park. New federal monetary policies increased the price of gold and silver and stimulated mining, which once again regained its importance in the life of the city.

The city's population stood at 17,581 people in 1950. During the 1960s, urban renewal changed the face of downtown Helena, and a pedestrian mall was built to attract tourists. Preservation fervor and urban renewal programs in the 1970s resulted in further downtown development. In recent decades, Montana residents have begun to truly appreciate and make efforts to preserve the beautiful terrain of their state. In 1992, the Montana House of Representatives voted to protect 1.5 million acres of Montana from development, including some local Helena area sites. In 2005, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Helena one of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations, recognizing the city as "unique and lovingly preserved".

Today, Helena is an attractive place that retains vintage residential and commercial structures while providing modern shops, distinctive restaurants, and modern entertainment centers for residents and visitors alike.

Historical Information: Montana Historical Society, PO Box 201201, 225 N. Roberts, Helena, MT, 59620-1201; telephone (406)444-2694; email [email protected]

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Helena: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Helena Public Schools states that its mission is to challenge and empower each student to become a competent, productive, responsible, caring citizen. Nearly half of the teachers have a master's degree or beyond, while 42 percent have one to three years of education beyond a bachelor's degree. Students consistently score above average in national standardized testing in all academic areas.

The Helena school district enjoys one of the lowest teacher-to-pupil ratios in the state. The curriculum includes many accelerated and advanced placement courses. Nearly 60 percent of the district's graduating seniors attend four-year colleges or universities, earning over $3 million annually in scholarships. Another 25 percent of high school graduates move on to trade school, two-year colleges or the military.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Helena public school system as of the 20032004 school year.

Total enrollment: 8,090

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 11

junior high/middle schools: 2

senior high schools: 2

other: 1

Student/teacher ratio: 15:1

Teacher salaries

Average: $45,789

Funding per pupil: Not available

Public Schools Information: Helena Public Schools, 55 South Rodney, Helena, MT 59601; telephone (406)324-2000; fax (406)324-2022

Colleges and Universities

Helena's Carroll College, established in 1909, is a Catholic liberal arts college with an enrollment of about 1,500. Students enjoy small classes and easy access to faculty members, and half of the students go on to graduate school. In 2005 U.S. News & World Report ranked Carroll among the Western region's best colleges for the 11th year in a row. Carroll College offers bachelor of arts degrees in a variety of fields, as well as eight pre-professional programs and a variety of research and internship opportunities in the capital city.

Helena College of Technology is a two-year college that is part of the University of Montana. More than 700 students receive technical education in accounting, computer science, aviation, construction, nursing, machine tooling, and other fields. The college also offers associate of science and arts degrees in general studies. Montana University also provides graduate programs and continuing education classes in Helena.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Lewis & Clark County Library's main facility is in downtown Helena and the system has three branches in nearby towns. The library contains 115,000 items, including books, periodicals, vertical files, and audio-visual tapes. Built in 1976, the library serves 50,000 patrons annually.

The Research Center of the Montana Historical Society, also in Helena, contains more than 40,000 books and pamphlets relating to Montana, 2,000 bound volumes of Montana newspapers, more than 8,000 maps, as well as initial township plots, topographical maps, music scores, and other items. Its special collections focus on the Lewis & Clark expedition, fur trading, and General Custer and the Battle of the Little Big Horn. It also has an extensive photograph collection featuring approximately 400,000 images.

The Montana State Library is the primary facility for state government as well as for the blind, physically handicapped, and learning disabled. Its focus is on Montana's natural resources. Every Montanan is entitled to borrow from the State Library, although local libraries often borrow titles on behalf of their patrons.

Other local libraries include the college libraries of Carroll College and the Helena College of Technology, and those of St. Peter's Community and Shodair hospitals, as well as libraries of the Montana state legislature, the Montana Department of Commerce, the Montana Natural Heritage Program, the Montana Department of Special Resources, the State Law Library, and the U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Division Library.

Research institutions include the Montana Science Institute, which explores natural history and ecology of the Missouri River and conservation of native species, and the Nature Conservancy-Montana Chapter, which identifies rare plants and animals and works to protect rare species.

Public Library Information: Lewis & Clark County Library, 120 S. Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601; telephone (406)447-1690; fax (406)447-1687

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HELENA (first century c.e.), sister and wife of *Monobazusi, king of *Adiabene (cf. Jos., Ant., 20:17–96). Helena and her son *Izates became converts to Judaism in about 30 c.e. through the influence of Ananias, a Jewish merchant. When her husband died, she appointed Izates as king in accordance with his expressed wish. As was customary in the East, the other sons of Monobazus were imprisoned and were in danger of being put to death, but Helena and Izates sent them to Rome – a humane act probably dictated by their new religion. Only her son Monobazus ii, who ruled for a short time after his father's death, remained in Adiabene. Helena spent the latter part of her life in Jerusalem, where she built herself a palace (Jos., Wars, 5:252; 6:355). When a famine raged in Judea at the time of Claudius (Ant., 20:51), she bought grain and figs in Egypt and Cyprus for the starving people. Echoes of this are found in the Talmud (bb 11a; tj, Pe'ah 1:1, 15b; Tosef., ibid., 4:18). Helena also made gifts to the Temple (Yoma 3:10), and was meticulous in the observance of the precepts of Judaism (Naz. 3:6). She died in Adiabene but her remains and those of Izates were transferred to Jerusalem by Monobazus, and interred in the mausoleum she had built at a distance of three stadia to the north of the city, known today as "the Tombs of the Kings" (Jos., Ant., 20:95; Jos., Wars, 5:55, 119, 147). Pausanius (Graec. Descrip.viii, 16:4–5 (358)) provides a description of the Tomb of Helena and refers to a special mechanism that kept the door of the tomb closed. The inscription on the sarcophagus found by De Saulcy in the Tomb of the Kings was of great value in identifying Helena's tomb. The first line has the words מלכתא צדן and the second line מלכת א צדה. The language of both lines is Aramaic, but the script of the first line is Syrian and of the second, Hebrew. This proves that at least the second queen mentioned was Jewish and that she came from a Syrian royal family.


J. Derenbourg, Essai sur l'histoire et la géographie de la Palestine (1867), 223ff.; Graetz, Hist, 2 (1893), 216–9; Schuerer, Gesch, 3 (19094), 169ff.; M. Kon, Kivrei ha-Melakhim (1947); Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 5 (1951), 13, 44ff. add. bibliography: N.C. Debevoise, A Political History of Parthia (1938); N. Kokkinos, The Herodian Dynasty: Origins, Role in Society and Eclipse (1998), 250; M. Stern, Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism, vol. 2 (1980), 196–97; T. Ilan, Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity. Part i: Palestine 330 bce200 ce (2002), 317–18, s.v. "Helene."

[Abraham Schalit /

Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]

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Helena: Population Profile

Lewis & Clark County Residents

1980: 43,039

1990: 47,495

2000: 55,716

2003 estimate: 57,137

Percent change, 19902000: 17.3%

U.S. rank in 2000: 847th (for counties; state rank 6th)

City Residents

1980: 23,938

1990: 24,699

2000: 25,780

2003 estimate: 26,718

Percent change, 19902000: 2.8%

U.S. rank in 2000: Not reported

Density: 1,840.7 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 24,434

Black or African American: 59

American Indian and Alaska Native: 541

Asian: 201

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 18

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 430

Other: 98

Percent of residents born in state: 55.5% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 1,501

Population 5 to 9 years old: 1,558

Population 10 to 14 years old: 1,628

Population 15 to 19 years old: 1,962

Population 20 to 24 years old: 1,999

Population 25 to 34 years old: 2,931

Population 35 to 44 years old: 3,919

Population 45 to 54 years old: 4,309

Population 55 to 59 years old: 1,414

Population 60 to 64 years old: 975

Population 65 to 74 years old: 1,640

Population 75 to 84 years old: 1,403

Population 85 years and older: 541

Median age: 38.8 years

Births (2002)

Five year average: 12.1 per 1000 population (county)

Deaths (2002)

Five year average: 7.9 per 1000 population (county)

Money income (2000)

Per capita income: $20,020

Median household income: $34,416

Total households: 11,476

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 1,438

$10,000 to $14,999: 908

$15,000 to $24,999: 1,725

$25,000 to $34,999: 1,767

$35,000 to $49,999: 1,809

$50,000 to $74,999: 2,228

$75,000 to $99,999: 911

$100,000 to $149,999: 464

$150,000 to $199,999: 130

$200,000 or more: 96

Percent of families below poverty level: 9.3% (58.3% of which were female householder families in poverty)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: Not reported

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Helena: Introduction
Helena: Geography and Climate
Helena: History
Helena: Population Profile
Helena: Municipal Government
Helena: Economy
Helena: Education and Research
Helena: Health Care
Helena: Recreation
Helena: Convention Facilities
Helena: Transportation
Helena: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1864 (chartered, 1881)

Head Official: Mayor James E. Smith (I) (since 2001)

City Population

1980: 23,938

1990: 24,699

2000: 25,780

2003 estimate: 26,718

Percent change, 19902000: 2.8%

U.S. rank in 2000: Not reported

Lewis & Clark County Population

1980: 43,039

1990: 47,495

2000: 55,716

2003 estimate: 57,137

Percent change, 19902000: 17.3%

U.S. rank in 2000: 847th (among counties; state rank 6th)

Area: 14 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 4,090 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 44.0° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 11.32 inches

Major Economic Sectors: Government, services, finance

Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (January 2005)

Per Capita Income: $20,020 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: Not reported

Major Colleges and Universities: Carroll College, Helena College of Technology

Daily Newspaper: Helena Independent Record

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Helena: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Helena's local newspapers include the Independent-Record, a daily, and the Adit, a shopping weekly. Magazines published locally include Montana Magazine, a regional interest magazine, The Montana Catholic, and the Montana historical magazine, as well as the Montana Stockgrower, the Montana Food Distributor, Trial Trends and U.S. Toy Collector Magazine.

Television and Radio

One private television station broadcasts from Helena, and there is one local cable company. The city has four local FM radio stations and three AM stations. They feature adult contemporary, easy listening, country, classic rock, and news and talk formats.

Media Information: Independent-Record, PO Box 4249, Helena, MT 59604; telephone (406)447-4000

Helena Online

City of Helena. Available www.ci.helena.mt.us

Helena Chamber of Commerce. Available www.helena chamber.com/index.html

Helena Convention & Visitors Bureau. Available helenacvb.visitmt.com

Helena Public Schools. Available www.helena.k12.mt.us

Independent-Record. Available www.helenair.com

Lewis & Clark County Library. Available www.lewisandclark library.org

Montana Business Information Center. Available www.sba online.sba.gov/regions/states/mt/mtbics.html

Selected Bibliography

Evans, Nicholas, The Horse Whisperer (New York: Delacourte Press, 1995

Petrick, Paula Evans, No Step Backward: Women and Family on the Rocky Mountain Mining Frontier, Helena, MT: 1865-1900, (Helena, MT: Helena Montana Historical Society Press, 1987)

Rodgers, Joni, Crazy for Trying (Denver: MacMurray & Beck, 1999)

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Helena:1 Town (1990 pop. 7,491), seat of Phillips co., E central Ark., on the Mississippi River and at the southern end of Crowley's Ridge; inc. 1833. It is a rail terminus and river port with an economy based on cotton, lumber, and agricultural processing. The city was occupied by Union troops in the Civil War; they were attacked unsuccessfully by Confederates in the Battle of Helena (July 4, 1863).

2 City (1990 pop. 24,569), state capital and seat of Lewis and Clark co., W central Mont., on the eastern slope of the Continental Divide; inc. 1870. It is a commercial, trading, and shipping center in a ranching and mining area. Manufactures include concrete, sheet metal, and dairy products. Major electronics, engineering, communications, and health-care organizations have offices in Helena, and a Federal Reserve bank is there. Agricultural products include cattle, sheep, wheat, barley, and oats.

The city was founded after the discovery of gold (1864) in Last Chance Gulch (now Helena's main street) and grew rapidly. In 1875 a general election ratified the choice of Helena to replace Virginia City as territorial capital. In the 1890s it maintained its position as state capital against the rivalry of Anaconda. As the area's stores of gold and silver were depleted, other minerals, including copper, lead, and zinc were discovered and exploited.

Carroll College is in the city, and landmarks include the Original Governor's Mansion (1888), the Holter Museum of Art, the Museum of Gold, the Montana Historical Society Museum, and the Myrna Loy Center for the Performing and Media Arts. The capitol building and the civic center also have noteworthy historical and artistic collections. The city is surrounded by scenic mountains and is the headquarters of Helena National Forest.

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Helena: Geography and Climate

Helena is located in west-central Montana in the foothills of the Big Belt Mountains on the eastern slope of the Continental Divide, 48 miles north-northeast of Butte, Montana. Helena is located midway between Glacier and Yellowstone national parks and fertile valleys lie to the north and east. The Missouri River flows northward nearly 10 miles east of the city.

Helena has a modified continental climate with warm, dry summers and moderately cold winters. Mountains located to the north and east of the city sometimes deflect shallow masses of arctic air to the east, but at times cold air can be trapped in the valley for days. During the coldest period, from November through February, temperatures sometimes drop to 0° F or below. Summer temperatures are usually under 90° F and the mountains account for marked changes in temperature from day to night. April through July is the rainy season, while late summer, fall, and winter are quite dry.

Area: 14 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 4,090 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 20.2° F; July, 67.8° F; annual average, 44.0° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 11.32 inches