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Is there any special meaning to “3-7-77” regarding Montana?

Have you ever noticed something and thought, “Well, what’s the story behind this?”. This is precisely what happened to me recently when I was walking through the parking lot of my apartment complex.

A neighbor of mine is a Montana State Highway Patrol trooper and when I came across the number “3-7-77” on the side of his MHP vehicle, it piqued my curiosity. What’s the story behind it? Why this particular number on vehicles? I decided to see what I could find and did a little googling for an explanation.

That’s when things started to get interesting. You see, there are a few different stories regarding the background of “3-7-77” and each has its own story regarding the number. Overall, though, it looks like the number has a bit of a mystery behind it and there are several different theories as to what it could mean.

Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Credit: Townsquare Media
Credit: Townsquare Media

Does the number “3-7-77” represent vigilantes?

According to, the number could be a tribute to vigilantes and their history here in Montana. So what exactly is a vigilante? The Oxford definition is as follows:

“a member of a self-proclaimed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, usually because legal agencies are seen as inadequate.”

Montana has a history of vigilantes and vigilantes. According to Legends of America, it dates back to the 19th century in Virginia City, Montana. The group was founded after a man was murdered. The newly formed “posse” and its followers were tired of a slow court, so the group would take the law into their own hands and practice “pioneer justice” through several lynchings.

It has been said that when you add the numbers 3 + 7 + 7 + 7 you get 24, which is the 24 hours someone had to leave town before action was taken. Indeed, in Helena, we celebrate the history of the vigilantes with the day of the vigilantes and the parade of the vigilantes.

So, would the number represent? The story of those early pioneers who rose up and took matters into their own hands to keep their community safe?

Does the number “3-7-77” represent a grave?

Some say the number actually represents a grave, or at least the size of one. The theory is that a tomb is 3 feet wide, 7 feet deep, and 77 inches long. According to sudouestmt.comthere is even mention of the number in the movie “A River Runs Through It” when Norman refers to the number and a grave.

Getty Images/Zoonar RF

Ok, so that’s definitely an interesting theory and frankly, a bit scary. However, would it make sense for the Montana Highway Patrol to have the dimensions of a grave on its vehicles? Or the patches on their uniforms?

Does the Number “3-7-77” represent Freemasonry?

So here’s a bit of a twist. One of the theories behind the number combination is based on Freemasonry, although there seems to be some disagreement about where it came from.

In an article and a podcast on, Brian Dunning really goes into great detail about the number and the possible connection to Freemasonry. Dunning writes that there are a few possible connections between the number and Freemasonry.

First, it refers to an article written in 1974 by historian Rex Myers for Montana: The Magazine of Western History. Myers goes on to write the following:

“The 3 refers to the three immigrants from Minnesota who founded the First Lodge of Montana in 1862; the 7 refers to seven prominent Virginia City Masons who formed a Vigilance Committee and signed an oath in 1863; and the 77 a depicted a mason named Bell who died of fever in 1862 plus the 76 others who are said to have attended his funeral.”

The Freemason Museum presents a collection of 150 years of Masonic jewelry
Getty ImagesJack Taylor/Stringer

As you can see, there are several different ideas about the meaning of the number and the stories behind it. However, what is the real answer? What does this really mean? This seems to be a question on which many people have an opinion. One thing is for sure, whatever the number “3-7-77” is, the story behind it is certainly interesting.

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Cory E. Barnes

The author Cory E. Barnes