Montana History

  • 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.
  • Chief Mountain: Iconic Landmark and Sacred Site

    By Doug Schmittou
    In September 1892, however, Stimson was a member of the first non-Indian party to climb Ninaistákis. At its summit, they discovered evidence of the mountain's long history of ceremonial use. On terrain far too rugged for bison to traverse, three bison skulls were found, two of which were so old "that the black sheaths of their horns had been worn away by winds and storms, and the sheaths of the other horns had turned from black to yellowish white." 
  • Fort Benton, Town Born of the River

    By Doug Stevens
    Enter Alexander Culbertson, the most influential person in the establishment and development of Fort Benton. Culbertson joined the American Fur Company in 1829 and soon became the principal trader with the Blackfeet. His wife, Natawista, was of the Canadian Blackfoot Blood Band, which gave Culbertson a great advantage in building trust with area tribes. 
  • Living in Her Own Shadow: Calamity Jane's Time in Montana

    By Doug Stevens
    What better way to tap into the nineteenth-century fascination of the perceived free, nonconformist Western lifestyle than a woman who dressed in men's clothes and did stereotypical men things, like army scouting, drinking whiskey and smoking cigars? 
  • Visiting Charlie Russell at Bull Head Lodge

    By Joseph Shelton, with illustrations by Rob Rath
    Charlie had camped and stayed in the area we now call Glacier National Park for years before he built a house there, taking inspiration from the stunning scenery and falling in love with the wildlife.
  • 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.
  • Kid Curry and the Great Northern Train Robbery

    By Joseph Shelton
    Harvey Logan, better known as Kid Curry to his friends and enemies, was no stranger to Mon - tana. As a matter of fact, his criminal career had started here. It was where, some years earlier, he had committed his first murder. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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." 
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.