State capital of Montana, USA, and seat of Lewis and Clark County, located in the west-central part of the state, 80 km/50 mi northeast of Butte; population (2000 est) 25,800. Helena lies at an altitude of 1,219 m/4,000 ft, near the Big Belt Mountains, with Mount Helena (1,280 m/4,200 ft) rising in the background. It is the commercial centre of a rich mining and agricultural region; industries include agricultural products, machine parts, lead refining, ceramics, paints, sheet metal, and chemicals, but government, education, and health care services dominate employment. Helena was incorporated as a city in 1881.
Helena was first settled after gold was discovered in Last Chance Gulch in 1864; it became capital of Montana Territory in 1875 and state capital in 1894.
There are 35 entries on the national register of historic places, including the State Capitol, a cemetery, and factories. Helena is the seat of the University of Montana College of Technology and Carroll College (1909), a private Catholic college. The Archie Bray Foundation for Ceramic Arts was founded in 1951. The actress Myrna Loy was born nearby, and the city is home to the Myrna Loy Center for the Performing and Media Arts.