Have you ever noticed something, and thought, "well what's the story behind that?". That's precisely what happened to me recently when I was walking across the parking lot of my apartment complex.

One of my neighbors is a Trooper for the Montana State Highway Patrol and when I came across the number "3-7-77" on the side of his MHP vehicle, it piqued my interest. What is the history behind it?  Why is that particular number on the vehicles? I decided to see what I could find out and did a little google search to come up with 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 one has its own history regarding the number. Overall, though, it seems the number has a bit of a mystery behind it and there are several different theories on 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 montanatrooper.com, the number could be a tribute to vigilantes and their history here in Montana. So what exactly is a vigilante?  The Oxford definition is the following:

"a member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate."

Montana has a history with vigilantes and vigilante justice. According to Legends of America, this goes back to the 19th Century in Virginia City, Montana. The group was founded after a man was murdered.  The newly formed "posse" and its supporters 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 all together, you get 24 which would represent the 24 hours someone had to get out of town before action would be taken. In fact, in Helena, they celebrate the history of vigilantes with vigilante day and the vigilante parade.

So, is that would the number represents? The history of those early pioneers that stood up and took matters into their own hands to make their community safe?

Does the Number "3-7-77" represent a grave?

Some say that the number actually represents a grave, or at least the dimension of one. The theory is that a grave is 3 feet wide, 7 feet deep, and 77 inches long. According to southwestmt.com, there is even mention of the number in the movie "A River Runs Through It" when Norman makes reference to the number and a grave.

Getty Images/Zoonar RF

Ok, so this is certainly an interesting theory and quite frankly, a little creepy.  However, would it make sense that 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 the Freemasonry?

So here comes a bit of a twist. One of the theories behind the number combination is based on freemasonry, although there seems to be disagreement on the origin of this.

In an article and podcast on skeptoid.com, Brian Dunning really goes into a lot of detail about the number and the possible freemason connection to it. Dunning writes that there are a couple of possible links to the number and freemasonry.

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

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

The Freemason's Museum Showcases 150 Year Collection Of Masonic Jewels
Getty Images Jack Taylor / Stringer

As you can see, there are several different ideas about what the number means and the stories behind it.  However, what is the real answer?  What does it really mean? That seems to be a question that a whole lot of people have an opinion on. One thing is for sure, whatever the number "3-7-77" represents, the history behind it sure is interesting.

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