For thousands of years, Native Americans tribes including the Shoshone, Nez Perce, Blackfeet, Flathead, Crow Nation and Sioux traveled through the area, called the "Valley of the Flowers", although the Gallatin Valley was primarily within the territory of the Crow people.
William Clark visited the area in July 1806 as he traveled east from Three Forks along the Gallatin River. The party camped 3 miles (4.8 km) east of what is now Bozeman, at the mouth of Kelly Canyon. The journal entries from Clark's party briefly describe the future city's location.
In 1863, John Bozeman, along with a partner named John Jacobs, opened the Bozeman Trail, a new northern trail off the Oregon Trail leading to the mining town of Virginia City through the Gallatin Valley and the future location of the city of Bozeman.
John Bozeman, with Daniel Rouse and William Beall platted the town in August 1864, stating "standing right in the gate of the mountains ready to swallow up all tenderfeet that would reach the territory from the east, with their golden fleeces to be taken care of...". Red Cloud's War closed the Bozeman Trail in 1868, but the town's fertile land attracted permanent settlers.
In 1866, Nelson Story, a successful Virginia City, Montana, gold miner originally from Ohio entered the cattle business. Story braved the hostile Bozeman Trail to successfully drive ~1000 head of longhorn cattle into Paradise Valley just east of Bozeman. Eluding the U.S. Army, who tried to turn Story back to protect the drive from hostile Indians, Story's cattle formed one of the earliest significant herds in Montana's cattle industry. Story established a sizable ranch in the Paradise Valley and holdings in the Gallatin Valley. He