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UM News
April 26, 2013


Two recent case studies conducted by The University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research show that third quarter 2012 expenditures by both Montana residents and nonresidents staying at least one night in the small communities of Three Forks and Choteau totaled about $500,000 in spending in each town.

The Sacajawea Hotel in Three Forks was built in 1910 and served as a welcome to passengers on the Milwaukee Railroad. Brought “back to life” in 2010 with a major renovation, the hotel now is a luxury accommodation. People report being drawn to Three Forks because of the historic Sacajawea Hotel and all it has to offer, including its restaurant, Pompey’s Grill.  Those who spent a night at the Sacajawea Hotel spent an average of $228 in the town daily, totaling just over $400,000 in spending in Three Forks in the third quarter of 2012.

The Stage Stop Inn in Choteau is located on the east side of the Rocky Mountains and caters to Montana residents and nonresidents alike. Those who spent a night at the Stage Stop were drawn to Choteau by special events, recreation and business. Together they spent an average of $169 per day, totaling more than $600,000 in spending in Choteau in the third quarter of 2012.

“These smaller, non-franchise hotels have the ability to draw visitors to some of the lesser-known communities in Montana and boost their economy,” ITRR Assistant Director Christine Oschell said. “There is a mutually beneficial relationship between these hotels and their communities. Whether it’s for historical sites, community events, recreation or business, people are visiting and spending money in these towns,” she said.

The Montana Tourism Advisory Council supported this project to provide information and examples to other small communities. For more information about these case studies, visit and




Contact: Norma Nickerson, director, UM Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research, 406-243-2328,