Contact Us

6 Things You Didn’t Know About The University of Montana

Photo by Brooke Andrus
The University of Montana has been part of the Missoula community for almost 120 years. Its long history as one of the state’s largest learning institutions is peppered with interesting facts, stories and tidbits. Here are a few UM trivia items to impress your friends with:

Photo courtesy of mr_t_77/Flickr
Photo courtesy of mr_t_77/Flickr


It wasn’t always UM



“MSU” might as well be a four-letter word here in Missoula, but it wasn’t always that way. In 1917, UM officially became known as Montana State University. It stayed that way for nearly 50 years. In 1965, the school’s name was changed back to The University of Montana.


Photo courtesy of gfhdickinson/Flickr
Photo courtesy of gfhdickinson/Flickr


Star-gazing on Mount Sentinel



The federal government gave UM the land on the western side of Mount Sentinel — where the “M” trail is now located — for the purpose of constructing an astronomical observatory. The observatory was never built, but nevertheless, the mountain became a defining feature of UM’s campus.


Photo courtesy of dareppi/Flickr
Photo courtesy of dareppi/Flickr


Cattle guard



The entire campus was once surrounded by wooden fences, as roaming livestock and horses were a problem during the university’s early years.


Photo courtesy of kodomut/Flickr
Photo courtesy of kodomut/Flickr


Stay off of the Oval



A 1960 Kaimin editorial suggested that a belowground, open-air amphitheater be constructed in the Oval, just west of Main Hall. In addition to adding cultural richness, the amphitheater was offered as a solution to the problem of students walking across the Oval, which, at that time, was forbidden in an effort to protect the perfectly manicured lawn.


Photo courtesy of poplinre/Flickr
Photo courtesy of poplinre/Flickr


Bears before Monte



From about 1897 to 1960, live bears were used as mascots for UM athletic teams. Each bear quickly grew past a manageable size, after which it was released or sent to a zoo facility. Famous mascot bears included Teddy, Cocoa, Chester and Fessy. (Side note: the cage at the south entrance to Greenough Park once housed a live bear mascot.)


Photo courtesy of Sam Howzit/Flickr
Photo courtesy of Sam Howzit/Flickr


Right down the middle



There used to be a 10-lane bowling alley on the first floor of the University Center (UC).


Recommended for You

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for Zootown VIP quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!

Sign up to have exclusive Zootown VIP contests, events, coupons, presales, and much more delivered to you for FREE.