5 Unique Missoula Landmarks
Ever wondered about those big red X’s? What about that giant peace sign? Missoula is bursting with culture and history, as indicated by its abundance of interesting relics and landmarks. Here are a few local favorites and some of the stories behind them:
The Red X's
Built nearly a quarter century ago, this iconic downtown sculpture — actually titled “Crossings” — honors Missoula’s railroad heritage. Four 12-foot, 750-pound steel X’s comprise the sculpture, which has occupied the roundabout on the north end of Higgins Avenue since 1986
The Wilma Theatre
Nowadays, the Wilma serves as an all-purpose entertainment venue, with shows ranging from concerts to regular old movies. But this isn’t your average movie theater — its history goes all the way back to the early 1920s, when it hosted traveling vaudeville acts. Oh, and did I mention that you can purchase beer and wine — along with popcorn and candy — at the concession stand?
The Swimming Fish
To young children and immature college students, it’s known simply as a fun thing to climb and play on. But this well-known Missoula landmark is actually a piece of art. The 1989 sculpture — titled “Returnings” — occupies the grassy area just east of the Higgins Avenue Bridge.
The giant white symbol of peace that adorns the side of a grassy hill at the north end of town is actually the successor to the original Peace Sign, which was painted on a microwave panel in the ’80s. The panel was removed in 2001 when satellite technology made it obsolete, much to the disappointment of many Missoulians. The new Peace Sign is accessible via the Waterworks Hill trail, which begins in the lower Rattlesnake area.
In case you haven’t noticed, we Montanans love to decorate our mountainsides with giant letters. But none of them can compare to Missoula’s beloved “M” on Mount Sentinel. The very first “M” was constructed in the early 1900s. Since then, it has morphed and changed considerably; there was even an upright wooden “M” at one point. The current cement “M” was built in 1968.