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Stevensville, Montana
Stevensville and the Bitterroot Riverseen from Saint Mary's Peak (2005)
Stevensville and the Bitterroot River
seen from Saint Mary's Peak (2005)
Location of Stevensville, Montana
Location of Stevensville, Montana
Country United States
State Montana
County Ravalli
 • Type Mayor-Council
 • Total 1.31 sq mi (3.40 km2)
 • Land 1.29 sq mi (3.35 km2)
 • Water 0.02 sq mi (0.05 km2)
3,323 ft (1,013 m)
 • Total 2,002
 • Density 1,551.94/sq mi (597.61/km2)
Time zone UTC-7 (Mountain (MST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-6 (MDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 406
FIPS code 30-71200
GNIS feature ID 0791505

Stevensville (Salish: ɫq̓éɫmlš) is a town in Ravalli County, Montana, United States. The population was 2,002 at the 2020 census.

Stevensville is officially recognized as the first permanent settlement of non-indigenous peoples in the state of Montana. Forty-eight years before Montana became the nation's 41st state, Stevensville was settled by Jesuit Missionaries at the request of the Bitterroot Salish tribe.


Stevensville is officially recognized as the first permanent settlement in the state of Montana. Forty-eight years before Montana became the nation's 41st state, Stevensville was settled by Jesuit Missionaries at the request of the Bitter Root Salish Amerindians.

Through interactions with Iroquois working in the fur trade between 1812 and 1820, the Bitter Root Salish learned about Christianity and Jesuit Missionaries (the Blackrobes as they were called) that worked with Native Americans teaching about agriculture, medicine, and religion. Interest in these "blackrobes" grew among the Salish and, in 1831, four young Salish men were dispatched to St. Louis, Missouri to request a priest to return with them to their homeland of present-day Stevensville. The four Salish men were directed to the home and office of William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) to make their request. At that time Clark was in charge of administering the territory they called home. Through the perils of their trip two of the Salish died at the home of General Clark. The remaining two Salish men secured a visit with St. Louis Bishop Joseph Rosati who assured them that missionaries would be sent to the Bitter Root Valley when funds and missionaries were available in the future.

Again in 1835 and 1837 the Bitter Root Salish dispatched men to St. Louis to request missionaries but to no avail. Finally in 1839 a group of Iroquois and Salish met Father Pierre-Jean DeSmet in Council Bluffs. The meeting resulted in Fr. DeSmet promising to fulfill their request for a missionary the following year.

DeSmet arrived in present-day Stevensville on September 24, 1841 and called the settlement St. Mary’s. Construction of a chapel immediately began, followed by other permanent structures including log cabins and Montana's first pharmacy. Father Ravalli, Jesuit priest and doctor, was the builder.

In 1850 Major John Owen arrived in the valley and set up camp north of St. Mary's. In time, Major Owen established a trading post and military strong point named Fort Owen, which served the settlers, Indians, and missionaries in the valley.

Both St. Mary's Mission and Fort Owen still have permanent structures that stand today in present-day Stevensville denoting its historical past starting in 1841.

The name of the settlement was changed from St. Mary's to Stevensville in 1864 to honor territorial governor Isaac Stevens. In the words of Luther E. Stanley, "When Isaac Ingle Stevens was ordered to Fort Owen in 1853, he came to what he supposed would be a military fort but much to his surprise, it was a trading post. General Stevens, for the past year, had been in charge of military operations and Indian affairs in the Northwest Territory...he moved his government and military material to Fort Owen. This fort became the territorial capital in 1853 and served that until 1858, when Stevens was called back to active duty with the Union Army. He was killed in action in 1862 at Chantilly, Virginia ....Stevens laid out a new town near the ruins of St. Mary's Mission and Fort Owen...It was named Stevensville in his honor and authorized by President Lincoln on May 12, 1864."


Stevensville is located at 46°30′28″N 114°5′36″W / 46.50778°N 114.09333°W / 46.50778; -114.09333 (46.507836, −114.093214).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 1.00 square mile (2.59 km2), of which, 0.98 square miles (2.54 km2) is land and 0.02 square miles (0.05 km2) is water.

"Flanked by the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountains, the small, historic town in the Bitterroot Valley offers beautiful views, outdoor recreation and watchable wildlife." The Bitterroot Mountain Range, just west of Stevensville, is the longest single mountain range in the Rocky Mountains.


This climatic region is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Stevensville has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 47
1900 346
1910 796 130.1%
1920 744 −6.5%
1930 692 −7.0%
1940 703 1.6%
1950 772 9.8%
1960 784 1.6%
1970 829 5.7%
1980 1,207 45.6%
1990 1,221 1.2%
2000 1,553 27.2%
2010 1,809 16.5%
2020 2,002 10.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
North Valley Public Library - Stevensville Montana
North Valley Public Library, Stevensville, Montana

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 1,809 people, 836 households, and 455 families living in the town. The population density was 1,845.9 inhabitants per square mile (712.7/km2). There were 935 housing units at an average density of 954.1 per square mile (368.4/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 96.0% White, 0.1% African American, 1.0% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.6% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.4% of the population.

There were 836 households, of which 24.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.8% were married couples living together, 8.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 45.6% were non-families. 40.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 19.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.87.

The median age in the town was 42.3 years. 22.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.8% were from 25 to 44; 25.1% were from 45 to 64; and 21.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 46.9% male and 53.1% female.


Stevensville Public Schools educates students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Stevensville High School's team name is the Yellowjackets.

North Valley Public Library is located in Stevensville.


Stevensville Municipal Airport is a town-owned public-use airport located two miles (3.7 km) northeast of town.

Notable people

  • Janine Benyus, author
  • Tyler Bradt, whitewater kayaker, ran Palouse Falls in 2009
  • Fr. Edward Catich, author, stone-cutter, calligrapher, photographer, musician, liturgical artist, historian, lecturer, and born in the town
  • Huey Lewis, lead singer of Huey Lewis and the News
  • Washington J. McCormick, United States Representative from Montana, retired to Stevensville
  • George McGovern, United States senator and presidential candidate, owned a book store and a summer home in the area
  • Lee Metcalf, United States congressman (1953-1961) and senator (1961-1978) from Montana
  • Kathleen Meyer, author
  • Anthony Ravalli, Jesuit pioneer and founder of western U.S. settlements

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Stevensville (Montana) para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Influential Hispanic politicians
Maria Elvira Salazar
Veronica Escobar
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Lucille Roybal-Allard
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