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Broadwater County, Montana facts for kids

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Broadwater County
The Broadwater County Courthouse in Townsend
The Broadwater County Courthouse in Townsend
Map of Montana highlighting Broadwater County
Location within the U.S. state of Montana
Map of the United States highlighting Montana
Montana's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Montana
Founded 1897
Named for Charles Arthur Broadwater
Seat Townsend
Largest city Townsend
 • Total 1,239 sq mi (3,210 km2)
 • Land 1,193 sq mi (3,090 km2)
 • Water 46 sq mi (120 km2)  3.7%
 • Total 6,774
 • Density 5.4673/sq mi (2.1109/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
Congressional district At-large
  • Montana county number 43

Broadwater County is a county in the U.S. state of Montana. As of the 2020 United States Census, the population was 6,774. Its county seat is Townsend. The county was named for Charles Arthur Broadwater, a noted Montana railroad, real estate, and banking magnate.


Townsend silos
"The Silos" are a major Broadwater County landmark

The Lewis and Clark Expedition travelled through what is now Broadwater County as they traced the Missouri River. Gold was discovered in the Big Belt Mountains in 1864 which brought several mining towns. In 1881 the Northern Pacific Railway with a stop in what is now Townsend.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,239 square miles (3,210 km2), of which 1,193 square miles (3,090 km2) is land and 46 square miles (120 km2) (3.7%) is water.

The boundaries of the county are roughly formed by the Big Belt Mountains to the east and north, the Elkhorn Mountains to the west, and the Horseshoe Hills to the south.

Broadwater County is perhaps best known as the home of Canyon Ferry Lake, the third largest body of water in Montana. The lake provides essential irrigation to local farms, and serves as a recreation destination for the region. Visitors seek out Canyon Ferry for its excellent fishing, boating, swimming, camping, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Major highways

  • I-90.svg Interstate 90
  • US 12.svg U.S. Highway 12
  • US 287.svg U.S. Highway 287
  • MT-2.svg Montana Highway 2

Adjacent counties

National protected area

  • Helena National Forest (part)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 2,641
1910 3,491 32.2%
1920 3,239 −7.2%
1930 2,738 −15.5%
1940 3,451 26.0%
1950 2,922 −15.3%
1960 2,804 −4.0%
1970 2,526 −9.9%
1980 3,267 29.3%
1990 3,318 1.6%
2000 4,385 32.2%
2010 5,612 28.0%
2020 6,774 20.7%
US Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2020

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 5,612 people, 2,347 households, and 1,614 families living in the county. The population density was 4.7 inhabitants per square mile (1.8/km2). There were 2,695 housing units at an average density of 2.3 per square mile (0.89/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 96.2% white, 1.3% American Indian, 0.3% black or African American, 0.2% Pacific islander, 0.2% Asian, 0.3% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 2.2% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 38.7% were German, 16.2% were English, 15.5% were Irish, 7.9% were Norwegian, 6.4% were Scottish, and 2.3% were American.

Of the 2,347 households, 27.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.7% were married couples living together, 6.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 31.2% were non-families, and 26.6% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.85. The median age was 45.4 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $44,667 and the median income for a family was $46,949. Males had a median income of $34,500 versus $32,014 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,606. About 5.8% of families and 10.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.0% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over.


Big Belts and Canyon Ferry
Canyon Ferry Reservoir and the Big Belt Mountains outside of Townsend, Montana


Census-designated places

Unincorporated community


Agriculture is one of the primary industries in Broadwater County. RY Timber and Wheat Montana Bakery were the largest private employers according to the 2000 Census.

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