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Joe, Montana: Town of Joe, Montana

Named for a champion football player of the 1990s. Sheepishly, they returned to the town name of Ismay. If you're a Joe fan, you might want to visit to see what's still around...

Ismay Rd, Joe, MT
North off of US-12, 50 miles east of Miles City. Follow CR-320 six miles to Ismay. This is a gravel road.
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Visitor Tips and News About Town of Joe, Montana

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Town of Joe, Montana

The sign for Joe, Montana is gone, now back to being a sign for Ismay, Montana -- that boasts of the town's Joe Montana center (closed when I visited).

[Harmon, 07/24/2023]

Joe Montan(a) Center.

Joe, Montana

Ismay, Montana, was, for three years, named "Joe" -- after a 1980s NFL quarterback named Joe Montana -- in an attempt to revive the fortunes of the shrinking town. Its population at the time was 26: the smallest incorporated community in Montana. Despite two attempts at Joe, Montana festivals, the town continued to shrink. The festivals and merch did raise enough money for the town to build a community center and to buy a fire engine. The center still stands, but the town has continued to fade. Current population: 19.

[George Wood, 11/18/2021]

As far as we know, Joe Montana -- who was born and raised in Pennsylvania -- has never visited Joe, Montana. We also never visited Joe, only stopping long enough to photograph a sign on the road in. We were rushing to get somewhere ... perhaps George, Washington.

Sign for Joe, MT.

Town of Joe, Montana

In 1993, the town of Ismay changed its name to "Joe." A Kansas City radio station convinced the population (all 22 of them) to do it as a publicity gimmick when the legendary Joe Montana was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. Back then the champion football player was a household name, and the town voted for the name change to last at least for the duration of football season.

Montana led his team to victory, and retired from football a few years later. The town eventually lapsed into calling itself Ismay again, although signs for "Joe" remained. Funds raised from the sale of "Joe, Montana" souvenirs enabled the town to build a new fire station.

We took this photo of a sign for "Joe, MT" in 2002, so can't confirm there's anything still to see.

[ Team, 03/21/2009]

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