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From a town that started as a trading post and fort for people heading out west, the introduction of a railway in 1887 helped to expand the town of roughly 300 into a city of 12,000 people by 1920. The Northern Pacific Railway reached Missoula in 1883, the same year the city was incorporated. The Northern Pacific encompasses seven states including: Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon... a distance of roughly 1,983 miles.
Further reading: The Official Northern Pacific Railroad Guide by William C. Riley
Check out the North Missoula Community Development Corporation for up-to-date information about what is going on in the "old town" Missoula areas.