Hellgate History: Things Most Don’t Know About Our School

Sophia Geranios, Reporter

Hellgate High School has been around for over a decade, 111 years to be exact. With a school this old and historically significant, it has its share of secrets. Here are some things you might not know about our school.


  1. Hellgate was originally called Missoula County High School, as it was the only one in the area, meaning students from all over Missoula would attend it. The only other high school in the county at this time was Frenchtown High School.
  2. Originally, we were the Spartans. When the new school (now Sentinel) was built in 1956, they took the original team names with them as well as the trophies and school colors, purple and gold. This left the old MCHS to find a new mascot and new colors, which came down to the grey and green Huskies, the red and grey Pirates, or the red and gold Knights.
  3. On September 14th 1931, Hellgate actually caught on fire. Over the previous summer there had been renovations to the school. On the night of the fire two janitors were cleaning, and when they tried to turn on the lights near the library, they wouldn’t work. They went home, but later that night a student living in a fraternity nearby saw the lights flash on and smoke above the building. The fire spread through the school, and unfortunately into the new auditorium ruining most of the new renovations and old building. Students were transferred to the other high schools while Hellgate was rebuilt. 
  4. Former President Richard Nixon once spoke at our school in 1952. He was campaigning as the vice president for Dwight Eisenhower. Here, he delivered a speech which contained the famous advice to the youth generation to  “accept the challenge of dirty politics, that’s what you should do. Work for what is right if you know you are right.”
  5. Hellgate has a system of underground tunnels beneath the school leading to the boiler. This is unique to our school’s old architecture. It is rumored that in 1945, a repairman entered the tunnels and a slab of concrete fell on top of him, leaving his ghost to roam the passageways. Explore at your own risk. Hellgate is also the only school in Missoula with a swimming pool. It’s on the fourth floor for any interested freshmen.