"A relatively recent nickname, "Big Sky Country" originated with a 1962 promotion of the Montana State Highway Department. It is a reference to the unobstructed skyline in the state that seems to overwhelm the landscape at times. The name came from a book by Alfred Bertram Guthrie Jr., Big Sky, recalled by a Highway Department employee. Mr. Guthrie gave the Highway Department permission to use the name and Montana has been "Big Sky Country" ever since. The legend "Big Sky Country" appeared on Montana license plates from 1967 to 1975. This was shortened to "Big Sky" on license plates stamped from 1976 to 2000."