Montana History

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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." 
  • How Montana Fought World War I

    By Amy Grisak
    As the Great War shook the world, Montana felt more impact than most states. WWI was at the nexus of political and immigration issues, labor strife, and a deadly pandemic, as well as the beginning of a prolonged drought that shaped one of the most tumultuous times in our history.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lost Montana

    By Todd Klassy, Photos by the Author
    The Dooley Church, was mostly forgotten by everyone except the residents of Sheridan County and a handful of photographers who travel across the country to photograph old, abandoned buildings.
  • Montana's Road Ghosts and Phantom Hitchhikers

    By Renee Carlson, Illustrated by Rob Rath
    Also referred to as vanishing hitchhikers, these are ghosts that haunt our roadways. Some seek to hitch a ride with the living and others simply drift through the thin veil between worlds to appear briefly on the side of the road.
  • 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. 
  • Constructed From a Vision: The Extraordinary Home of Chief Plenty Coups

    By Joseph Shelton
    Plenty Coup said that "The Cheyenne, and the Sioux... have always been our enemies... But when I fought with the white man against them it was not because I loved him or because I hated the Sioux and the Cheyenne, but because I saw this was the only way we could keep our lands... And it was my dream that taught us the way."
  • A Photographic Trip to Montana's Historic Cemeteries

    By Renee Carlson
    While it is okay to leave respectful memorials to loved ones, or even toys and trinkets on a long-passed child’s grave, it is never okay to leave refuse, graffiti, or other ill-intentioned items. Please join me as we respectfully wander a few of our beautiful state’s memorial gardens.
  • 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.
  • 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.