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Choteau, Montana

Choteau, Montana

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Choteau is a city in and the county seat
County seat
A county seat is an administrative center, or seat of government, for a county or civil parish. The term is primarily used in the United States....

 of Teton County
Teton County, Montana
-National protected area:*Lewis and Clark National Forest *Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Area -Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 6,445 people, 2,538 households, and 1,761 families residing in the county. The population density was 3 people per square mile . There were 2,910...

, Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It lies along U.S. Routes 89
U.S. Route 89
U.S. Route 89 is a north–south United States Highway with two sections, and one former section. The southern section runs for 848 miles from Flagstaff, Arizona, to the southern entrance of Yellowstone National Park...

 and 287
U.S. Route 287
U.S. Route 287 is a north–south United States highway. It is long. It serves as the major truck route between the Texas cities of Fort Worth and Amarillo...

 (the latter terminating at the former in this city) about 20 miles (32 km) east of the Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States...

, near Flathead National Forest
Flathead National Forest
The Flathead National Forest is a national forest in the western part of the U.S. state of Montana. The forest covers of which about 1 million acres is designated wilderness. It is named after the Flathead Indians who lived in the area. The forest is located in the Rocky Mountains with elevations...

, the Rocky Mountain Division of Lewis and Clark National Forest
Lewis and Clark National Forest
Lewis and Clark National Forest is located in west central Montana, United States. Spanning , the forest is managed as two separate zones. The eastern sections, under the Jefferson Division, is a mixture of grass and shrublands dotted with "island" pockets of forested areas. Here, cattle leases to...

, and Glacier National Park. The population was 1,781 at the 2000 census
United States Census, 2000
The Twenty-second United States Census, known as Census 2000 and conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000, to be 281,421,906, an increase of 13.2% over the 248,709,873 persons enumerated during the 1990 Census...

. The Montana town is named for French fur-trapper and explorer Pierre Chouteau, Jr.
Pierre Chouteau, Jr.
Pierre Chouteau, Jr. , also referred to as Pierre Cadet Chouteau, was an American merchant and a member of the wealthy Chouteau fur-trading family of St. Louis, Missouri.-Early life and education:...

, who is also the namesake of Chouteau County, Montana (county seat: Fort Benton
Fort Benton, Montana
Fort Benton is a city in and the county seat of Chouteau County, Montana, United States. A portion of the city was designated as a National Historic Landmark District in 1961. Established a full generation beforethe U.S...



According to the United States Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...

, the city has a total area of 1.8 mi2, all land. The Teton River runs nearby, although for some distance upstream of Choteau it is dry during much of the year.


As of the census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

of 2000, there were 1,781 people, 807 households, and 464 families residing in the city. The population density
Population density
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...

 was 994.3 people per square mile (/km2). There were 897 housing units at an average density of 500.8 per square mile (/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.94% White, 0.06% African American, 2.92% Native American, 0.11% Asian, 0.22% from other races, and 2.75% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.18% of the population.

There were 807 households out of which 24.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.8% were married couples
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.4% were non-families. 39.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 21.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.82.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.7% under the age of 18, 4.4% from 18 to 24, 21.4% from 25 to 44, 25.8% from 45 to 64, and 25.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there ware 86.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,708, and the median income for a family was $35,655. Males had a median income of $22,429 versus $17,098 for females. The per capita income
Per capita income
Per capita income or income per person is a measure of mean income within an economic aggregate, such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate and dividing it by the total population...

 for the city was $14,999. About 12.7% of families and 17.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.2% of those under the age of 18 and 12.5% of those 65 and older.

In the news

Choteau has made national news in the U.S. because it is the town nearest to a 2700 acres (11 km²) ranch that David Letterman
David Letterman
David Michael Letterman is an American television host and comedian. He hosts the late night television talk show, Late Show with David Letterman, broadcast on CBS. Letterman has been a fixture on late night television since the 1982 debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC...

 purchased in 1999 as a vacation home. Letterman has talked about the ranch on his late-night show and showed photos of a black bear invading the place in September 2003.

On his first show after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Letterman gave an impassioned monologue about New York City in the aftermath. He concluded the now-famous 7-minute speech by mentioning Choteau's rally to raise money for victims of the attacks, despite the long drought there.

On March 19, 2009, Letterman married his girlfriend of 23 years at the Teton County Courthouse in Choteau.

In 2008, school authorities in Choteau made national news headlines by canceling a speaking engagement by Nobel laureate climate researcher Steve Running
Steve Running
Steve Running, Regents Professor, Forest Ecology, College of Forestry & Conservation at the University of Montana, and Director of the Numerical Terradynamics Simulation Group, is responsible for developing the earth observing-oriented algorithms used by the Moderate Resolution Imaging...

, who was scheduled to speak to local high school students.


Choteau experiences a semi-arid climate (Köppen
Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

 BSk) with cold, dry winters and hot, wetter summers.

Notable residents

  • John Edward Erickson, later Governor of Montana
  • J. Frank Glendon
    J. Frank Glendon
    J. Frank Glendon was an American film actor. He appeared in 79 films between 1915 and 1936.He was born in Choteau, Montana, and died in Hollywood, California...

    , early film actor
  • A.B. Guthrie Jr., American novelist
  • Jay Neitz
    Jay Neitz
    Jay Neitz is professor of ophthalmology and a color vision researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington in the United States.- Cone cells and the numbers of colors an organism can see :...

    , renowned vision scientist
  • J. K. Ralston
    J. K. Ralston
    James Kenneth "J.K." Ralston was an American painter of the Old American West whose primary topics were the American West and images of cowboys and American Indians. He also did commercial artwork....

    , born here, western painter
  • Flint Rasmussen
    Flint Rasmussen
    Flint Rasmussen is perhaps the most famous "rodeo clown" or "rodeo barrelman" in the sport of bull riding. Rasmussen and his wife, Katie, have two daughters, Shelby and Paige...

    , rodeo clown


Choteau is near one of the most important paleontology sites in the world, Egg Mountain. The Old Trail Museum in Choteau is home to the Maiasaura type fossil, which is the Montana State Fossil. The 3-D display can be viewed during the summer operating season. Also showcased is the Egg Mountain find along with a commentary on the significance to the paleontology world.


Choteau Public Schools serves all grades of children in the community. Choteau High School received a 2009 Best High School Bronze Award recognition from US News and World Report for its excellence in education.

The elementary school has 350 students in grades K-8 while the high school has 162 students in grades 9-12.

External links