Montana History

  • The Stench of the Frontier

    By Lindsay Dick
    If Manifest Destiny had a smell, it would surely stink of rotting garbage, excrement, and a heady whiff of BO. Literature and film have cultivated in the American imagination a highly romanticized take on the Old West, but they’ve necessarily left out some of the crustier details of day-to-day hygiene.
  • Butte Will Rise Again!

    By Sherman Cahill
    You already know the story: thousands of immigrants, arriving at Ellis Island, carrying signs bearing the name of their intended destination. They read, not "Butte, Montana," but "Butte, America." Because Montana, one of the biggest states in the Union, was too small to contain the legend of the Mining City. 
  • The National Bison Range - A Story of Vision, Tragedy and Homecoming

    By Doug Stevens
    Bison play a central, integral role in the cultural, spiritual and ceremonial life of many western Native American tribes in both the plains and the intermountain areas, such as Montana. Their relationship to the bison runs deep and is ingrained into who they are as Native people
  • Montana's Magnificent Buffalo Jumps

    By Holly Matkin
    Montana’s native tribes relied on the bounty of bison in nearly every aspect of their daily lives. In addition to depending on them as a primary food source, native peoples also developed ingenious methods that enabled them to use every part of these colossal one-ton giants.
  • The Distinctly Montana Interview with Michael Punke

    By Lindsay Tran
    "Here, we owe a great debt to past generations – people like George Bird Grinnell whose vision and tenacity protected places like Yellowstone and Glacier. But protecting these places did not happen by accident, or without great opposition."
  • The Bison Hunters

    By Joseph Shelton
    There was a market for their tongues in the trendy restaurants of the East, selling for $8 - $9 for a dozen. And "buffalo hump" was also a Christmas tradition for many in the West - an 1846 holiday feast at Fort Edmonton served "boiled buffalo hump," "boiled buffalo calf," and "whitefish browned in buffalo marrow." 
  • Steak and America: A Romance For the Ages

    By Sherman Cahill
    Now whenever I go to a restaurant with a price point north of McDonald's, my eyes scan the menu for steaks. Whether it's the $10 steak and eggs at a greasy spoon or the $47 ribeye at a real fancy place, or the even more dreaded "market price" cut only available to those in the know, I can't help myself.
  • Saleesh House: David Thompson's "Haunt" in Montana

    By Doug Stevens
    Those winters in northwestern Montana were very challenging, both physically and mentally, even brutal at times. There was constant repair and maintenance work on the post itself, as well as canoe building, firewood collection and hunting.
  • Who Killed John Bozeman?

    By Renee Carlson
    John Bozeman was shot twice through the chest by the native Americans, while Thomas Cover was shot once through the shoulder. According to Cover himself, he was shot while rushing to Bozeman’s side.
  • The Mining of Glacier

    By Doug Stevens
    It may surprise many, as it did me, that there are actually abandoned mines and oil wells located within Glacier. The three decades prior to Glacier officially gaining national park status saw a frenzy of mining activity.
  • Wooden Wild Horses: Montana's Seven Carousels

    By Bryan Spellman
    The National Carousel Association publishes an online Index of North American Carousels. That index lists seven carousels in Montana, including merry-go-rounds in Boulder, Butte, Columbia Falls, Helena, Missoula, Shelby and Somers.
  • Get to Know Daniels County

    By Bryan Spellman
    On August 30, 1920, the Montana Legislature took the western part of Sheridan County and the northeastern portion of Valley County to create Daniels County. Named for local rancher Mansfield Daniels, the County covers 1,426 square miles, almost all that land.
  • A Brief and Tasty History of the Beef Pasty

    By Joseph Shelton
    But those first Cornish miners brought with them a delicacy that many Montanans still treasure, a simple hand-pie that continues to nourish and fuel hard-working folks today. 
  • Life During Wartime at the Charter Oak Mine

    By Carl Davis
    The crucial role of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company and other big mining enterprises in World War II materials production is widely appreciated. Less so is the contribution of Montana’s many small-scale mine operations.
  • East to Gold Mountain: Chinese Miners in Montana

    By Sherman Cahill
    And when Montana experienced its own gold rush, many Chinese came to Bannack and Virginia City to seek their fortunes; the first mention of Chinese arriving in the area was in an 1865 issue of the Virginia City newspaper The Montana Post, which groused at the arrival of a small group of gold-seeking Chinese workers. 
  • Superfund Sites and the Complicated Legacy of Mining

    By Zuzu Feder
    Montana is home to a whopping 17 federal Superfund Sites. Superfund, or Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), was established in 1980 to allow the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up contaminated, toxic sites around the United States.
  • Modern Mining in Montana

    By Bryan Spellman
    Montana history is mining. All three of Montana Territory’s capitals got their start as gold rush towns.