Helena is the state capital of Montana and is a city of about 30,000 (up 16% since 2000) located at the intersection of Interstate 15 and U. S. Highway 12 in Lewis and Clark County in West Central Montana. Human habitation of the Helena area began at least 10,000 years ago with the Folsom People. For many years thereafter various Indian tribes inhabited, or traversed through, the area. None stayed for long. White, or European settlement began in the early 1800s, mostly explorers and fur trappers. They did not stay here long either. Permanent settlement began in 1864 after miners attracted by gold findings in Bannack and Alder Gulch came to this area, and in 1864 the "Four Georgians" found gold in Last Chance Gulch in what is now Helena. A gold camp soon arose. The "Four Georgians" were not called that because they were from Georgia (although one was) but because of the method of mining they used. They called the location of their claim Last Chance Gulch because it was their last chance before giving up and going to their respective homes. Helena became the capital of Montana Territory in 1875 and of the state of Montana in 1889. The impressive capitol building was completed in 1902 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Helena is also the county seat of Lewis and Clark County. Helena has a very large number of buildings of historical and/or architectural interest. There are 8 historic districts and about 50 individual locations in Helena listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Some of Helena's surrounding features include: The Continental Divide, Mount Helena City Park, Spring Meadow Lake State Park, Lake Helena, Helena National Forest, The Big Belt Mountains, The Gates of the Mountains Wilderness, The Missouri River, Canyon Ferry Lake, and the Elkhorn Mountains.