Montana license plates have a “pecking order” based on the relative size of the counties – according to population data from decades ago, that is.
Fechter.com explains it (and has a handy map): “County numbers were originally assigned based on most populous to least populous counties; sequence numbers were assigned about 1930 and have not changed since then. A plan was proposed in the 1999 Legislature Session to change things, but it was defeated.”
I absolutely love that Butte/Silver Bow has retained the coveted #1 spot, even though Butte’s days as the largest town in Montana are long gone. Butte “made” Montana in so many ways, and it earned that #1 plate.
And I love that Cascade County – home! – is #2, despite falling behind Yellowstone, Missoula, Flathead, and Gallatin counties in recent years, population-wise.
Here’s the list of license plates by county; you can read more at BPRLicensePlates.com.
Of course, there are plenty of people who opt out of the numbering system in favor of custom license plates – sometimes they are funny, sometimes they are strange.
You can check out the complete list of custom and/or vanity plates available at the state MVD website.