The city was founded after the discovery of gold (1864) in Last Chance Gulch (now Helena's main street) and grew rapidly. In 1875 a general election ratified the choice of Helena to replace Virginia City as territorial capital. In the 1890s it maintained its position as state capital against the rivalry of Anaconda. As the area's stores of gold and silver were depleted, other minerals, including copper, lead, and zinc were discovered and exploited.
Carroll College is in the city, and landmarks include the Original Governor's Mansion (1888), the Holter Museum of Art, the Museum of Gold, the Montana Historical Society Museum, and the Myrna Loy Center for the Performing and Media Arts. The capitol building and the civic center also have noteworthy historical and artistic collections. The city is surrounded by scenic mountains and is the headquarters of Helena National Forest.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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