Kalispell Montana History

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Kalispell History

Kalispell, Montana has a fascinating history, filled with the Old West traditions of buffalo, trains, shootouts and Indian lore, which makes it a wonderful vacation destination for history buffs. Read More

  • Early Days: Native Americans hunted and gathered over this vast area around Kalispell
  • 1887: The town of Demmersville was founded
  • 1891: Demmersville becomes a ghost town when the railroad finds Kalispell is a better railroad route
  • 1892: The City of Kalispell is incorporated
  • 1895: The Conrad Mansion is built

The quaint city of Kalispell, Montana sits among towering mountain ranges in a valley filled with history. It is an excellent idea to get a brief view of the past to have a full understanding of this western town.

Early Days
Long before the white man ventured into this valley in northern Montana, there were a number of tribes of Native Americans who hunted and gathered over this vast area of land. They lived on deer, buffalo and elk meat, and ate plants such as the bitterroot, wild onions and mosses.

1855
Native Americans were made to surrender their land and move to reservations.

1880
A boat landing and store are built along the Flathead River near Kalispell.

1883
A town called Ashley Crossing was founded on the southwest edge of what is now Kalispell.

1885
Freight and passengers can now move on the Flathead Lake, near Kalispell. The U.S. Grant is one of the first of many steamboats traveling the lake.

1887
The town of Demmersville, pronounced “Dee-mars-ville” was founded southeast of what is now Kalispell. It was named after T.J. Demers, a storeowner in town.

1891
The Great Northern Railway arrives in the valley. Demmersville becomes a ghost town when the railroad finds that Kalispell is a better railroad route.

1892
The City of Kalispell is incorporated. The first railroad car pulls into Main Street in downtown Kalispell. A big celebration begins, as the future is sure to hold prosperity from all the pioneers, tourists and businessmen the railroad will bring.

1895
One of Kalispell’s founding families has their home designed by a Spokane architect. (This is now the Conrad Mansion, a museum open to the public.)

1904
The Great Northern Railroad moves the main line from Kalispell to Whitefish, trying to eliminate numerous curves in the trip. Kalispell residents aren’t happy about it.

2007
The City of Kalispell continues to grow, reaching a population of around 20,000.

Today
Kalispell today is the largest city in Flathead County and boasts a friendly 22,000 residents. It is close to plenty of beautiful wilderness land and national parks and forests, and welcomes travelers to come and enjoy all that Kalispell has to offer.