Living in Montana my whole life, I've gotten pretty good at telling where someone is from in the state by looking at their rig.  You can generally tell by the first number on the plate you can tell they live in a certain county.

There is a method to this seemingly strange way Montana does their license plates.  I feel like I was taught it was by mineral wealth in the counties, but on doing research, THAT WAS INCORRECT.  Damn it, Mr. Johnson.  I'm half way glad my dad is gone right now or I'd owe that boy some money.  We had to memorize the counties and their seats and numbers in 7th or 8th grade in Choteau.

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Turns the counties were numbered by the population.  The population count was from 1914, but the policy didn't go into effect until 1926.  They've stayed the same over the years, even though the populations don't exactly match the numbers any more.

Now that you know the history, I'll give you the numbers and the counties so you can play the Montana road trip game, "Where is that rig coming from?"

County Number-County Seat-County Name

1. Butte/Silverbow County

2. Great Falls/Cascade County

3. Billings/Yellowstone County

4. Missoula/Missoula County

5. Helena/Lewis and Clark County

6. Bozeman/Gallatin County

7. Kalispell/Flathead County

8. Lewistown/Fergus County

9. Broadus/Powder River County

10. Red Lodge/Carbon County

11.Malta/Phillips County

12. Havre/Hill County

13. Hamilton/Ravalli County

14. Miles City/Custer County

15. Polson/Lake County

16. Glendive/Dawson County

17. Wolf Point/Roosevelt County

18. Dillon/Beaverhead County

19. Fort Benton/Choteau County

20. Glascow/Valley County

21. Shelby/Toole County

22. Hardin/Big Horn County

23. Roundup/Musselshell County

24. Chinook/Blaine County

25. Virginia City/Madison County

26. Conrad/Pondera County

27. Sidney/Richland County

28. Deer Lodge/Powell County

29. Forsyth/Rosebud County

30. Anaconda/Deer Lodge County

31. Choteau/Teton County

32. Columbus/Stillwater County

33. Hysham/Treasure County

34. Plentywood/Sheridan County

35. Thompson Falls/Sanders County

36. Stanford/Judith Basin County

37. Scobey/Daniels County

38. Cutbank/Glacier County

39. Baker/Fallon County

40. Big Timber/Sweet Grass County

41. Circle/McCone County

42. Ekalaka/Carter County

43. Townsend/Broadwater County

44. Harlowton/Wheatland County

45. Terry/Prairie County

46. Philipsburg/Granite County

47. White Sulphur Springs/Meagher County

48. Chester/Liberty County

49. Livingston/Park County

50. Jordan/Garfield County

51. Boulder/Jefferson County

52. Wibaux/Wibaux County

53. Ryegate/Golden Valley

54. Superior/Mineral County

55. Winnett/Petroleum County

56. Libby/Lincoln County

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