Montana History

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "I Await the Devil's Coming": Mary MacLane, Butte's Prodigal Daughter

    By Lindsay Dick
    From her family’s house on North Excelsior Street, MacLane could see the Anselmo headframe and watch the miners change shifts. In "I, Mary MacLane," she explains her relationship with language in a way that recalls both the synesthesia of the poetic mind and the laborious process of mining.
  • Living History: 120th Year for State Capital Band Concerts

    By Aubrey Irwin
    If you're in Helena on a Thursday night, you might hear music and a roar of applause. The State Capital Band is in its 120th consecutive year of playing for the Helena area. The band plays in Memorial Park at 8 pm on Thursday nights - weather permitting.
  • The Remarkable Sarah Bickford

    By Doug Stevens
    On April 10, 2012, the State of Montana honored Sarah Bickford by inducting her into the Gallery of Outstanding Montanans in the Capitol Rotunda in Helena. As a former slave who became one of Montana's most prominent early businesswomen, Bickford certainly deserved this honor.
  • Driving in the Steps of the Corps of Discovery

    By Holly Matkin
    We invite you to hop in your car to set off on a trip back in time, crossing paths with the Corps of Discovery’s route through central and southwest Montana as you embark on an expedition of your own.
  • The Salish Discovery of the Corps of Discovery

    By Doug Stevens
    From the journals, we learn only the bare facts. It was September 4, 1805. They had had a very difficult time climbing out of the North Fork of the Salmon. The steep terrain and deep snow left many of the horses lame from falling. A lack of forage and game left both humans and horses hungry and weak.
  • Travelers' Rest: A Study in Precision on the Lewis and Clark Trail

    By Lindsay Tran
    The team also found several artifacts that could be attributed to the Corps, including a blue bead, melted lead, and a tombac (metal) button. Most interestingly, the latrines they uncovered contained a not insignificant amount of mercury, a dead giveaway that the poop in the pit belonged to non-Native individuals.
  • Bannack - Montana's Best Preserved Ghost Town

    By Doug Stevens
    The early history of Bannack is very “colorful” and reads like a Hollywood western. With Virginia City also booming to the north, there was an active stage line between the two gold towns.
  • Orphan Train Riders Out West

    By Teresa Otto
    By 1854, an estimated 34,000 abandoned or orphaned children filled New York City's streets. Many of their parents had immigrated to America, lured by the promise of free land out West.
  • 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