Does “3-7-77” have a special meaning in relation to Montana?

Have you ever noticed something and thought, “Well, what’s the story behind it?”. This is exactly what happened to me the other day while walking across the parking lot of my condominium.

One of my neighbors is a Montana State Highway Patrol trooper, and when I saw the number “3-7-77” on the side of his MHP vehicle, it piqued my interest. What’s the story behind it? Why is this special number on the vehicles? I decided to see what I could find out and did a little google search to find an explanation.

That’s when things started to get interesting. You see, there are a few different stories behind the “3-7-77” and each has its own story related to the number. Overall, however, the number seems a little mysterious, and there are various theories as to what it could mean.

Let’s take a look at some of them.

Photo credit: Townsquare Media
Photo credit: Townsquare Media

Does the number “3-7-77” stand for vigilante?

Corresponding, 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 conducts law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because legal authorities are deemed inadequate.”

Montana has a history of vigilantes and vigilante justice. Corresponding Legends of America, which dates back to the 19th century in Virginia City, Montana. The group was formed after a man was murdered. Fed up with a slow court, the newly formed “posse” and their supporters would take the law into their own hands and practice “pioneer justice” through multiple lynchings.

It was said that if you add the numbers 3 + 7 + 7 + 7 together you get 24, which would represent the 24 hours someone had to leave town before action would be taken. In fact, in Helena they celebrate the history of the vigilante with the Vigilante Day and the Vigilante Parade.

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

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

Some say the number actually represents a tomb, or at least the dimensions of one. The theory goes that a tomb is 3 feet wide, 7 feet deep, and 77 inches long. Corresponding southwestmt.comthe number is even mentioned in the movie “A River Runs Through It” when Norman alludes to the number and a grave.

Getty Images/Zoonar RF

Ok, that’s certainly an interesting theory and frankly a little creepy. However, would it make sense that the Montana Highway Patrol would have the dimensions of a grave on their vehicles? Or the patches on their uniforms?

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

So here comes a little twist. One of the theories behind the number combination goes back to Freemasonry, although there seems to be disagreement about its origin.

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

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

“The 3 referred to the three Minnesota immigrants who founded Montana’s first lodge in 1862; the 7 referred to seven prominent Virginia City Freemasons who formed a vigilance committee and signed an oath in 1863; and the 77 represented a Freemason named Bell who died of fever in 1862 plus the 76 others said to have attended his funeral.

The Freemason’s Museum displays a 150-year collection of Masonic jewels
Getty Images Jack Taylor/Stringer

As you can see, there are different ideas about what the number means and the stories behind it. But what is the real answer? what does it really mean That seems to be a question that many people have an opinion on. One thing is for sure, whatever the number “3-7-77” represents, the story behind it is definitely interesting.

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