Cut Bank, Montana

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Cut Bank, Montana
Housing along the Cut Bank Creek
Housing along the Cut Bank Creek
Location of Cut Bank, Montana
Location of Cut Bank, Montana
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country United States
State Montana
County Glacier
 • Total 0.99 sq mi (2.56 km2)
 • Land 0.99 sq mi (2.56 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 3,773 ft (1,150 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 2,869
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 2,963
 • Density 2,898.0/sq mi (1,118.9/km2)
Time zone Mountain (MST) (UTC−7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC−6)
ZIP code 59427
Area code(s) 406
FIPS code 30-18775
GNIS feature ID 0770395

Cut Bank is a city in and the county seat of Glacier County, Montana, United States, located just east-south-east of the "cut bank" (gorge) geographical feature which formed canyon-like along the eponymously named Cut Bank Creek river.[4] The population was 2,919 at the 2010 census.


Cut Bank is located at Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found. (48.634801, −112.331090).[5]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.99 square miles (2.56 km2), all of it land.[1]

The city is located 30 miles south of the Canadian border. The name of the city comes from the cut bank (gorge)— a scenic hazard to navigation and a geologic feature of the same name. The Cut Bank Creek river is spanned cliffs to cliffs by a scenic elevated railway bridge high above the canyon floor less than a mile from the edge of the town.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 43
1910 500 1,062.8%
1920 1,181 136.2%
1930 845 −28.5%
1940 2,509 196.9%
1950 3,721 48.3%
1960 4,539 22.0%
1970 4,004 −11.8%
1980 3,688 −7.9%
1990 3,329 −9.7%
2000 3,105 −6.7%
2010 2,869 −7.6%
Est. 2014 2,996 [6] 4.4%

2010 census

At the 2010 census,[2] there were 2,869 people, 1,249 households and 739 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,898.0 inhabitants per square mile (1,118.9/km2). There were 1,441 housing units at an average density of 1,455.6 per square mile (562.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 74.7% White, 0.2% African American, 19.0% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 5.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.5% of the population.

There were 1,249 households of which 30.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.4% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.8% were non-families. 35.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.94.

The median age was 41.2 years. 24.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 22.4% were from 25 to 44; 28.8% were from 45 to 64; and 16.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.2% male and 51.8% female.


Cut Bank is served by Amtrak's Empire Builder long-distance train on its route from Chicago to Seattle. There is one eastbound and one westbound train per day.

A train of the same name served the city under Amtrak's predecessor, the Great Northern Railway. The city, in conjunction with Amtrak and the current track owner BNSF Railway, recently repainted its historic train station in the traditional Great Northern depot colors.

The city contains an important railroad freight yard operated by the BNSF.

Historical relics

The Cherokee Trail or Rocky Mountain Trail ended its 800 mile path in Cut Bank. Starting from Fort Smith, Arkansas, this trail was carved by thousands of Cherokee miners in the 1850s and 1860s, who sought gold mining rushes in Colorado, Wyoming and California.

On July 26, 1806, Captain Meriwether Lewis with George Drewyer (Drouillard), Joseph Fields and Reuben Fields camped with a party of eight young Blackfeet Indians. At first the meeting was cordial, but the encounter turned hostile when Lewis disclosed to the Blackfeet that the United States government had plans to supply all the Plains Indians with firearms for hunting. This was not good news for the Blackfeet, who until that point had controlled firearms through trade relations with the Hudson's Bay Company.

The Blackfeet decided to make off with the party’s guns and horses leaving them on foot. At this point, this was the only armed encounter with Indians during the entire expedition. Two of the young Blackfeet were killed in this fight over horses and guns.

This actual site was not discovered until 1964 by two Cut Bank Boy Scout leaders,who used the directions and descriptions contained in Lewis’ journal. The "three solitary trees" described by Lewis in his journal still stood in the place Lewis depicted. The site has been marked and fenced by the local Boy Scouts.

There is another side of every story, however.

The Blackfeet Nation certainly hasn't forgotten its encounter with Capt. Meriwether Lewis in the summer of 1806. "Lewis and Clark came from a culture based on war and encountered a very peaceful people," tribal elder G.G. Kipp told the Blackfeet Community College Native American Scholars Program.

"But they wrote the history books saying we were brutal and warlike so they could justify what they did to us," he said.

According to Blackfeet oral histories, Kipp said, Lewis and his party ran into a group of young boys from the Skunk Band who were herding horses back to camp from a previous foray.

"They stayed with them and gambled with them," he said. "There is a story of a race. In the morning, they went to part company and the Indians took what they had won.

"That was it," said Kipp. "That's when they were killed."

A newspaper story dating back to 1919 recounts a Blackfeet version much more consistent with Lewis' journal.

In it, George Bird Grinnell, known as one of the fathers of Glacier National Park, recounted an interview he had conducted in 1895 with a Blackfeet chief called Wolf Calf, who was then 102 years old.

When Wolf Calf was 13 years old, said Grinnell, he was present at the fight scene.

The Blackfeet met the white men in friendly fashion. The chief directed the young men to try to steal some of their things, according to Wolf Calf.

They did so early the next morning, and the white men killed the first Indian with their big knives, he said.

Wolf Calf then said one of the white men -- apparently their chief -- chased another Indian boy and shot him with a pistol, killing him.

The old chief located the fight scene as on the hill immediately south of Birch Creek, where the town of Robare then stood in Teton County.

"In reply to an inquiry as to any attempt to pursue Lewis' party, Wolf Calf declared that the Indians were badly frightened, that they were bitterly hostile to the whites after the incident and ashamed because they had not killed all the white men. He said, however, that their dread of the white men's guns was such that they hurried away north, while Lewis and his men fled south," according to the newspaper account.

Darrell Robes Kipp, director of the Piegan Institute in Browning, noted that one of the boys who was killed, Calf Looking, was 13.

"These were boys who were horse herders," he said. "They weren't warriors."

By comparison, he noted, Lewis and his party were warriors.

"By the amount of weaponry they carried, they must have looked like Rambo to a couple of young boys who had only bows and arrows."

The ultimate insult, said Darrell Kipp, was that Lewis deliberately left a peace medal around the neck of one of the dead Indian boys.

"Since they didn't understand what the medal meant, it would have seemed that Lewis was counting coup on them. It would have been viewed as a form of scalping," he said.

The peace medal would not have been buried with Calf Looking, he added.

"That would have been considered taboo," said Darrell Kipp. "They would have thrown the medal away or destroyed it."

The result of that encounter, said Kipp, was that the Blackfeet closed their territory to all whites for the next 80 years, attacking and killing any intruders they could find within their borders.

Attitudes have mellowed since, though.

"Our tribal government has decided to support the bicentennial," said spokesman George Heavy Runner. "It's like trying to kill one bird with two stones.

"It will allow us to portray our culture, capture some of the tourism dollars and promote future tourism," he added.

As a result, the tribe sent a delegation to Monticello in January to attend the Signature Event opening the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial.

"We met a grandson of Captain Clark, shook his hand and said, 'We're still here, and we hope this encounter won't be as violent as the one 200 years ago,'" said Heavy Runner.

Already in Browning is the Museum of the Plains Indians, which interprets the Native American culture and lifestyle.

But the tribe also is planning to take over the late Bob Scriver's art studio and gallery, which will be turned into a museum of the Blackfeet Nation, said Heavy Runner.

Jay St. Goddard, tribal chairman, said the tribe plans to build an interpretive center, complete with a herd of buffalo, just west of Browning.

"Lewis and Clark were the rise and fall of Indian country, but we're in a new world today," said St. Goddard. "We need to find a way to funnel their tourism dollars into our pockets of poverty."

Captain Meriwether Lewis followed the north branch of the Marias River, now known as the Cut Bank Creek and camped south and east of Cut Bank on Monday, July 21, 1806.

There was no timber to be found to build a fire so buffalo chips were used. The company was nearly out of provisions. They wounded a buffalo, but were unable to retrieve it. The following day, the group proceeded to Camp Disappointment.



Cut Bank experiences a semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk) with long, cold, dry winters and short, warm, wetter summers. In winter, bitterly cold arctic air masses move south and impact the eastern side of the American Continental Divide. During such invasions Cut Bank, with its comparatively high elevation and topography is frequently the coldest location in the lower 48 U.S. States. Being close to the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains also makes the area subject to occasional Chinook winds that can rapidly increase the local temperature.

Climate data for Cut Bank Municipal Airport
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 61
Average high °F (°C) 28.4
Daily mean °F (°C) 19.0
Average low °F (°C) 9.5
Record low °F (°C) −46
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.39
Source #1: NOAA (normals, 1971–2000) [10]
Source #2: The Weather Channel (Records) [11]

Notable people

References in popular culture

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 18, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-06-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Moffatt, Riley. Population History of Western U.S. Cities & Towns, 1850-1990. Lanham: Scarecrow, 1996, 129.
  8. "Subcounty population estimates: Montana 2000-2007" (CSV). United States Census Bureau, Population Division. March 18, 2009. Retrieved May 9, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Wednesday, April 23, 2003 By Eric Newhouse Great Falls Tribune
  10. "Climatography of the United States NO.81" (PDF). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved January 15, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Monthly Averages for Cut Bank, MT". The Weather Channel. Retrieved January 15, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links