Charlo was originally a trail crossing for freighters hauling grain and other goods from the rich Ronan Valley to the railroad at Dixon. The place was first called Big Flat, then Charlotte, and later Charlo, in honor of Chief Charlo of the Flatheads, one of the few chiefs who refused to sign Special Commissioner James A. Garfield’s order (August 27, 1872) removing all Indians of the region to the Jocko reservation. Joseph Dixon, a governor and US Senator, was instrumental in establishing the name Charlo. (from Cheney’s Names on the Face of Montana, Mountain Press Publishing Company)
The Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana is located in Charlo. It was established to discover and memorialize the history and culture of the Flathead Indian Reservation and early Montana. Long-term exhibits include weaponry, spurs and saddlery, a vast collection of Native American beadwork, life-size dioramas of wild animals and of an Indian camp. An old cabin, and wagons and buggies dot the museum grounds.
The National Bison Range is located just seven miles southwest of Charlo on Highway 212. It was established in 1908 and is one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the nation. The range protects one of the most important remaining herds of American bison. About 300 to 500 of these great shaggy animals roam nearly 19,000 acres of grassland and timber. The range is also home to whitetail and mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorns, and at least 200 species of birds. A visitor’s center, auto tour, and picnic area are available.
Charlo Montana Demographics
As of the census of 2000, there were 439 people, 166 households, and 112 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 219.4 people per square mile (84.7/km²). There were 175 housing units at an average density of 87.5 per square mile (33.8/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 76.77% White, 1.14% African American, 17.77% Native American, 2.05% from other races, and 2.28% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.73% of the population.
There were 166 households out of which 42.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.6% were married couples living together, 15.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.5% were non-families. 26.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.22.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 36.0% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 18.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 96.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.9 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $24,167, and the median income for a family was $32,500. Males had a median income of $25,577 versus $17,250 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $10,687. About 16.0% of families and 21.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.9% of those under age 18 and 8.1% of those age 65 or over.