4/06 Day: An Appreciation of the Montana Spirit

Sydney Lee  |   Monday Apr. 1st, 2024

Only in Montana can you find the perfect combination of colossal mountains, raging rivers, sprawling plains, deep valleys, and massive grain fields. With snow covered crests, and luscious green and golden grasslands, the uniqueness of the state is not lost to those who reside in it. Montana is one-of-a-kind, filled with rich history and kind-hearted inhabitants who appreciate its beauty and ever changing views and weather. With an expanse large enough to accommodate such differing landscapes, it may come as a shock to out-of-staters that Montana has just one area code, 406.

With its singular area code and a population of just over a million, one may assume that the state is quite small, which is far from the truth. Switching between interstates 90 and 94, from Wibaux to Taft, you’ll spend about ten-and-a-half hours on the road making your way from the east side of the state to the west. Just under 700 miles of mismatched landscapes link together by stretches of winding, dangerous roads. North to south offers a faster option for a sightseeing tour, only taking about half the time, but this route warrants missing out on the range of sites you’d witness on the longitudinal line.

Admitted to the Union in 1889, the Treasure State has held true to its values, and kept its vibrant history front and center. As the population increases, locals keep their small town lifestyles close, and are always ready to lend a helping hand. Cities such as Butte, Virginia City, Fort Benton, and Deer Lodge, to name a few, offer in-depth tours, historical centers, and site visits to the state’s many landmarks (boasting settings that visitors may have previously learned about and traveled to the state to visit). While those are some of the ‘must-sees,’ there are many other possibilities. No matter where you go, almost every town, city, or area will have a history lesson in store. With the expedition of Lewis and Clark having run straight through the state, many cities have marked locations that likely look similar to what the duo would have seen back then—a beautiful and flourishing range of mountains and trees—living history to be appreciated and cared for.

Even when competing against itself, Montana is up for a good show of teamwork and sportsmanship. Aptly named “the Brawl of the Wild,” the classic Cat vs. Griz football rivalry each year keeps people traveling back and forth for games and events centered around the two largest public universities in the state. When one team ultimately loses out, the other is there to step in and support the champions as they move towards bigger goals. Many players on the feuding teams grew up together, either playing side by side or against one another. Yet, they maintain a mutual respect for the team that will take Montana the furthest it can go. Leading up to the annual football game, each respective city participates in a canned food drive. The goal to “Can the ‘Cats,” or “Can the Griz” is a lighthearted but competitive way to get the community involved and help others, a true representation of the underlying Montana spirit.

Most importantly, these similarities, shared from town to town across the entire state, depict the cohesiveness that is a vital aspect of the Montana way of life. Although the landscapes differ, they all share a beauty and endurance that is necessary to survive the harsh winters and dry heat waves of summer. Each place respects and highlights its deep history, educating those who travel through. Meanwhile, brawling teams come together with charitable goals and dreams of greatness in mind. ‘The 406’ represents the tightness of the Montana community, focusing on shared experiences and the understanding that residents have for one another, no matter how vast and spread out it all may seem.

Montana can be viewed in many different lights. Described as a vacation spot, a destination, a goal, an art, a frontier, a dream, a home, whatever Montana is to you, make sure that on Saturday, April 6th, 2024, you take time to share the beauty of Montana captured in your travels. As a native of the state, I know my own camera roll is filled with images of crystal-clear lakes, towering mountains, unforgettable sunsets, rolling plains, and drives into valleys. But mostly, it holds pictures of the unforgettable people I’ve met along my way.

Although we as Montanans appreciate the beauty of our state every day, we love the chance to show it off, and every year we look forward to 4/06 as an opportunity to show pride in this one-of-a-kind home.   

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