Missoula County (population 100,000) is located in the western portion of the state of Montana. Five large valleys and two major rivers are located within the approximately 2,600 square mile region. The county seat is Missoula. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Missoula County Courthouse was designed by architect A.J. Gibson and completed in 1910. The interior of the courthouse includes eight murals painted by western artist Edgar S. Paxon between 1912 and 1914.
Lewis and Clark travelled through Missoula County on their westward trip to the Pacific. In 1805, they camped near present-day Lolo, at Travelers' Rest. On their return trip in 1806, Lewis and Clark returned to Travelers' Rest. At this location, Lewis and Clark divided their party, with Lewis leading his group through the Missoula Valley with guides from the Nez Perce tribe. The Lolo Trail and Travelers' Rest are both National Historic Landmarks.
Missoula County owns and manages the Historic Museum and Fort Missoula. The site includes a collection of historic buildings on the 40-acre campus, including the first church in the Missoula Valley and military offices of Fort Missoula. As part of its annual budget, the Historic Museum and Fort Missoula provides small “bricks and mortar” grants to non-profit organizations to stabilize and restore historic sites.
The Missoula County Historic Preservation Office and the Office of Planning and Grants were responsible for securing funding and managing a project to ascertain the actual site of the Travelers' Rest National Historic Landmark, which had been misidentified when it was first listed in 1960. The project involved more than $600,000 in funding from a variety of sources, including the Save America's Treasures grant program, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, the state of Montana, private donors, and Missoula County.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2009.