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Chouteau County, Montana facts for kids

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Chouteau County
Chouteau County Courthouse in Fort Benton
Chouteau County Courthouse in Fort Benton
Map of Montana highlighting Chouteau 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 1865
Named for Pierre Chouteau Jr.
Seat Fort Benton
Largest city Fort Benton
 • Total 3,997 sq mi (10,350 km2)
 • Land 3,972 sq mi (10,290 km2)
 • Water 24 sq mi (60 km2)  0.6%
 • Total 5,895
 • Density 1.47486/sq mi (0.56945/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
Congressional district At-large
  • Montana county number 19

Chouteau County is a county located in the North-Central region of the U.S. state of Montana. As of the 2020 United States Census, the population was 5,895. Its county seat is Fort Benton. The county was established in 1865 as one of the original nine counties of Montana, and named in 1882 after Pierre Chouteau Jr., a fur trader who established a trading post that became Fort Benton, which was once an important port on the Missouri River.

Chouteau County is home to the Chippewa-Cree tribe on the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation. It contains part of the Lewis and Clark National Forest.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 3,997 square miles (10,350 km2), of which 3,972 square miles (10,290 km2) is land and 24 square miles (62 km2) (0.6%) is water.

Chouteau County was once the largest county in the Montana Territory and the second largest in the United States, with an area of 15,439 square miles (39,990 km2) in the early 20th century. However, some parts of the county were over 250 miles (400 km) from Fort Benton, and in 1909 an agreement was reached to subdivide the county.

Chouteau County lost half of its population from 1910 to 1930.

The land is mostly prairie. The Bear Paw Mountains rise in the eastern section and the Little Rockies and the Highwood ranges are in the southern portion. Major rivers include the Teton River, Marias River, Missouri River and the Arrow River.

Adjacent counties

Major highway

  • US 87.svg US Route 87

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 517
1880 3,068 493.4%
1890 4,741 54.5%
1900 10,966 131.3%
1910 17,191 56.8%
1920 11,051 −35.7%
1930 8,635 −21.9%
1940 7,316 −15.3%
1950 6,974 −4.7%
1960 7,348 5.4%
1970 6,473 −11.9%
1980 6,092 −5.9%
1990 5,452 −10.5%
2000 5,970 9.5%
2010 5,813 −2.6%
2020 5,895 1.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2020

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 5,813 people, 2,294 households, and 1,560 families living in the county. The population density was 1.5 inhabitants per square mile (0.58/km2). There were 2,879 housing units at an average density of 0.7 per square mile (0.27/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 75.8% white, 21.8% American Indian, 0.4% Asian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 0.1% black or African American, 0.3% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.6% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 27.6% were German, 13.0% were Irish, 11.2% were English, 9.8% were Norwegian, and 2.0% were American.

Of the 2,294 households, 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.3% were married couples living together, 10.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 32.0% were non-families, and 29.1% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.04. The median age was 41.5 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $41,064 and the median income for a family was $50,201. Males had a median income of $33,866 versus $25,077 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,202. About 14.8% of families and 21.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.6% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.


Square Butte



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


Chouteau County is the state's largest winter wheat producer. It is located in the heart of the "Golden Triangle", which produces about 45% of Montana's annual wheat crop.

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