8 PLACES TO DISCOVER MONTANA HISTORY

For many of our FIT and group tours, discovering Montana’s diverse and centuries-old history is part of the reason they come to Big Sky Country. With a history and heritage that extends many millennia—beginning with the American Indians, Montana’s First Nations—to the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1803, Western Montana’s Glacier Country has a rich and colorful history and heritage that lives on through physical and oral presentations found in all eight counties of the region.

Montanans love to share stories about our state, our communities and those who preceded us. Museums and historical sites are dotted all across the region—some well-known and some that will surprise and delight history enthusiasts far and wide. The following are a few places to suggest to group tour and FIT clients who enjoy stories of Montana and the American West, both past and present.

Glacier County Historical Museum (Cut Bank) Stroll through exhibits and historic structures depicting the history of Glacier County and the surrounding area including Maltby homestead, Marias School, oil derrick, oil worker’s house and the Great Northern Railroad depot. This museum is a great place to experience the early days of Cut Bank in a living history setting. Great for groups of all sizes.

  • Open Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day – Tuesday through Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Offseason: by appointment
  • Admission fees: free – donations are welcome
The entrance to the historic Savenac Nursery in Haugan, Montana. Photo: U.S. Forest Service Northern Region

The entrance to the historic Savenac Nursery in Haugan, Montana. Photo: U.S. Forest Service Northern Region

Savenac Historic Tree Nursery Visitor Center (Haugan) Founded in 1907 as a U.S. Forest Service tree nursery, this facility eventually became an important part of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) program which laid the groundwork for the United States of America’s national park system. The CCC was part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments. Today the tree nursery serves as a visitor center and offers a self-guided interpretive tour highlighting the history of the site, nursery operations and the fires of 1910. Groups of all sizes will enjoy this historic location.

  • Open daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Admission fees: free
Old Jail Museum of Sanders County. Photo: Jen Kreiner

Old Jail Museum of Sanders County. Photo: Jen Kreiner

Old Jail Museum (Thompson Falls) This 100-year-old jail features a variety of local history about famous explorer and city namesake David Thompson, construction of the Thompson Falls Dam, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps and the fires of 1910. This museum is a true hidden gem and is accessible for groups of all sizes.

  • Open daily Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day – 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Offseason: by appointment
  • Admission fees: $5 per family, children admitted free. Group rates available.
Life-size American Indian encampment display.

Life-size American Indian encampment display.

Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana (Charlo) This 11,000+-square-foot museum graciously depicts the history and culture of the Flathead Indian Reservation and early Montana. It features artifacts, historical photographs, a magnificent beadwork collection, armaments and a life-size diorama room filled with mounted wildlife and an Indian camp from around 1880. This must-see museum will captivate your clients traveling in small and large groups. Based on how in-depth your group would like to go into Montana’s history, a customized tour can range from one to three hours.

  • Open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day – Monday through Saturday – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Offseason: by appointment
  • Admission fees: $5 for adults, $4.50 for seniors, $4 for students, $2.50 for children ages 6 to 12 years of age and no cost for children under 6 when accompanied by an adult. Group rates are also available.
Main entrance to the sprawling grounds of Fort Missoula.

Main entrance to the sprawling grounds of Fort Missoula.

Historical Museum at Fort Missoula (Missoula) Fort Missoula has over 250 years of history beginning in 1877 as an U.S. Army fort used by the 7th Infantry and the 25thh Infantry Bicycle Corps. It was then used as a military training center during World War I followed by being the Northwest Regional Headquarters for the Civilian Conservation Corps. Later it was an alien detention center and prison for military personnel. Decommissioned for official military government use in 1947, Fort Missoula is now owned and operated by federal and county government. The museum has seen a resurgence of interest and now serves as a significant testament to the history and heritage of the Missoula Valley.

  • Open daily Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day – Monday through Saturday – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday – 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Offseason: Tuesday through Sunday – 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Admission fees: $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2 for students, $10 per family and no cost for children under 6 when accompanied by an adult. Group rates are available.
Trailhead to the walking trail at Traveler's Rest State Park.

Trailhead to the walking trail at Traveler’s Rest State Park.

Travelers’ Rest State Park (Lolo) This state park is the only archaeologically-verified campsite with physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the nation. Centuries before Lewis and Clark, this site was used by Montana’s First Nations, including the Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Nez Perce. The 51-acre park is also an idyllic spot for a short stroll and has a rich bird habitat, with more than 115 species recorded within the park boundaries. Interpretative programs are offered daily in the summer with special events promoted throughout the year.

  • Open daily year-round
  • Admission fees: $4 per person (walk-in, bicycle, bus passenger) and $6 per vehicle
  • Group use permits and fees apply
St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville. Photo: St. Mary’s Mission

St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville. Photo: St. Mary’s Mission

Historic St. Mary’s Mission (Stevensville) 48 years before Montana became a state, the St. Mary’s Mission was established in 1841 by Father Pierre DeSmet by request of the Salish Indians seeking Black Robes as teachers. This historical site includes the original structures of the 1866 Chapel and Father Ravalli’s log cabin and pharmacy which contains furnishings handmade by Father Ravalli, Montana’s first medical doctor. The mission is one of Montana’s best-kept secrets and a wonderful experience for groups of all sizes.

  • Open April 15 through October 15 – Tuesday through Friday – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Admission fees: $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $6 for students and no cost for children under 6 when accompanied by an adult. Reserved group rates (10 or more) are available.
Southern style mansion of copper king Marcus Daly.

Southern style mansion of copper king Marcus Daly.

Daly Mansion and Margaret Daly Memorial Arboretum (Hamilton) Completed in 1910 by famed Missoula architect A.J. Gibson, the Daly Mansion is the historic family home of the famous American industrialist and founder of Hamilton, Marcus Daly. It is a 24,000-square-foot Georgian Revival home that sits on 41 acres of expansive lawns, gardens and an arboretum that boasts one of the widest and rarest variety of trees in the state of Montana. The exhibits showcase the story of Daly and his rise from working-class immigrant to copper magnate along with the local, regional and international history tied to his extended family.

  • Museum is open daily mid-May through first week of October – 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Grounds are open daily mid-May through first week of October – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Offseason: by appointment
  • Admission fees: $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for children and no cost for children under 6 when accompanied by an adult. Group rates are available.

If you would like more information on options for a history and heritage filled itinerary through Western Montana or need help planning an itinerary, contact Debbie Picard, Tourism Sales Manager, for assistance.

Enjoy your stroll through Western Montana history,
RF

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