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Montana State Symbols

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Welcome to the Big Sky Country! Montana’s state symbols have some exciting stories to tell. (Continued below)

Montana State Flag
Nicknames & Slogans
Nicknames Big Sky Country, Bonanza State, Treasure State  
Symbols of State
Motto Oro y Plata
Song Montana 1945
EcoSymbols
Flower bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva) 1895
Tree ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) 1949
Grass bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) 1973
Bird western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) 1931
Animal grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) 1983
Fish blackspotted cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) 1977
Butterfly mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) 2001
Gemstone sapphire 1969
Gemstone Montana agate 1969
Soil Scobey 2015
Fossil † duck-billed dinosaur (Maiasaura peeblesorum) 1985
Cultural Symbols
Cowboy Hall of Fame Wolfe Point 2003
Arboretum University of Montana, Missoula 1991
Firefighter’s Memorial Firefighters’ Memorial Park 2003
Medal of Valor 1985
Ballad Montana Melody 1983
Lullaby Montana Lullaby 2007
Language (State/Local Government) English Redundant Symbol 1995
Veterans’s Memorial Rose Garden Missoula Memorial Rose Garden 1999
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans’ Memorial Grateful Nation Montana Memorial 2013
Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial 1987
Korean War Veterans’ Memorial Korean War Veterans’ Memorial, Butte 1997

The explorers Lewis and Clark discovered a number of species that were later adopted as Montana symbols. The state flower and tree (bitterroot and ponderosa pine) represent the Rocky Mountains, while the state grass and bird (bluebunch wheatgrass and western meadowlark) represent the grasslands of the Great Plains.

The grizzly bear once roamed the Great Plains as well, though it now survives only in forested mountains and the northern taiga and tundra. It is an official symbol of both Montana and California, though the California grizzly is sadly extinct.

One of Montana’s most unique and amazing symbols is its state fossil, the duck-billed dinosaur Maiasaura peeblesorum. Another amazing symbol is Montana’s ugly state flag, which looks like some kind of prehistoric monster itself.

Fortunately, no flag can mar my favorite Montana symbol, the nickname Big Sky Country.

* * * * *

If you think state flags and flowers are nothing more than trivia, guess again. A thorough exploration of the more than 1,500 items adopted as state symbols embraces geography, history, and psychology.

You have found the best state symbols website, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The introduction above is adapted from Geobop’s State Symbols and My State Symbols Book, by far the biggest and most detailed state symbols references ever. You can learn still more about the symbols of the 50 states in the books Flag Quest and Grading the States. (Learn more about them here.)

After you spend some time exploring your favorite state’s symbols, you can come back here and tell us what you think about them.

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