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city, seat (1894) of Flathead county, northwestern Montana, U.S. The city lies in the Flathead Valley near the head of Flathead Lake. It is the western gateway to Glacier National Park and headquarters of the Flathead National Forest. Named for the Kalispel Indians, a Salishan group, it was not seen by white men until 1809. The city was founded in 1891 with the coming of the Great Northern Railway. It grew substantially as an agricultural and, later, recreational community. Its economy depends chiefly on agriculture (notably processing seed potatoes and cherries), lumbering, tourism, and an aluminum plant in nearby Columbia Falls. The Flathead Valley Community College was founded in Kalispell in 1967. Inc. 1892. Pop. (1990) 11,917; (2000) 14,223.