Finding the Lowest Point in Montana

Montana is a stunning place to visit, with huge prairies and towering mountains. It is also rich in history and adventure. The Big Sky Country, located in the northernmost section of the United States, attracts explorers with a wide range of activities.

From towering heights at its highest point (Granite Peak, elevation 12,807 feet) to following rushing rivers at its lowest, the splendor of this beautiful state knows no bounds.

Now, let’s look at Montana’s lowest point and what makes it so distinctive.

Troy: Montana’s Lowest Point

Finding the Lowest Point in Montana

Troy, a small village in northwestern Montana, is the state’s lowest point. With an elevation of barely 1,820 feet, this gem of the Kootenai River is home to approximately 925 people. Located in Lincoln County, this hamlet was once a fishing settlement where the Kootenai (Kutenai), Salish, and Piegan Blackfoot tribes would gather. It is now remembered for other reasons, and you can continue reading to learn more about the town and its attractions.

History of Troy

In the 1880s, miners settled along the Kootenai River at the Montana-Idaho boundary. Troy became a registered town in 1892, and its population surged as job possibilities opened up with the completion of the Great Northern Railway. Miners and their families rushed to the area, eager about the promise of starting a new life in an idyllic setting.

Unfortunately, life in this community was not as beautiful as the lush, untamed environment that surrounded it. Asbestos poisoning from a local vermiculite mine in the 1920s caused decades of local health problems. The mine, owned by W.R. Grace, operated in the 1990s, contaminating the entire area around it.

The town had far more challenges than contamination. From 1906 to the late 1920s, Troy was plagued by wildfires that destroyed many important buildings as well as large areas of the Kootenai National Forest. Despite this, the population of this town increased until 1926.

Unfortunately, Great Northern Railway relocated its local freight station, eliminating numerous employment in the area. As the Great Depression hit in the late 1920s, more people began to relocate. This resulted in a record-low population on the edge of the 1930s. Following this, the town struggled to recover until gradually growing to its current population (925, 2021 census).

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The Environmental Protection Agency Intervenes

Finding the Lowest Point in Montana

The United States Environmental Protection Agency took action in 1999 to investigate the contamination that had spread from the vermiculite mine. The findings of this research prompted the EPA to take dramatic action in 2002. Troy was designated as a national priority, and the EPA declared its first Public Health Emergency in 2009.

Cleanup activities began in 2000 and lasted for 18 years. During this time, the EPA provided funding for the cleanup of 2,600 dwellings and the removal of more than one million cubic feet of contaminated soil. As 2018 drew to a close, the EPA pronounced the majority of Troy safe from exposure risk.

However, parts of the forest and regions around the mines may still contain high amounts of contamination. In 2020, the EPA delegated authority over the area to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

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Troy’s Lowest Point

While Troy has the lowest elevation in Montana, the state’s lowest point is Kootenai Falls, which lies eight miles southeast of Troy on U.S. Route 2. A highway parking lot located at mile 21 provides access to the state’s greatest undammed waterfall. Hikers can enjoy breathtaking views of the river and fall by following a trail through the forest.

Tourists are drawn to this trail for more than just the waterfall; a lovely swinging bridge across the river provides hikers with views of the falls’ biggest drop, 30 feet of plummeting water.

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Fun Facts About Montana’s Lowest Point

Finding the Lowest Point in Montana
  • Kootenai Falls appears in scenes from the 2015 film “The Revenant” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • Troy, Montana is a safe zone in Max Brooks’ book “World War Z.”
  • The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge in Troy is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Where is Kootenai Falls Located on a Map?

Montana’s lowest point is Kootenai Falls, the state’s greatest undammed waterfall. It is an eight-mile journey southeast of Troy’s city center on U.S. Route 2, followed by a walk through the forest that leads to breathtaking views of the river and falls. Located in Lincoln County, this hamlet was once a fishing settlement where the Kootenai (Kutenai), Salish, and Piegan Blackfoot tribes would gather.


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