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History & Heritage in Big Sky Country
From the Old West to the old world, Montana offers a bevy of historic sites designated as national landmarks, monuments, parks, historical sites – you name it.
History buffs, step out of the museum and check out famous forts, battlefields, and even some graffiti left by Lewis & Clark. Just pick a subject, and see what’s in store for you in Montana:
LEWIS & CLARK
The land of Montana is ideal for Lewis and Clark lovers. Obvious itinerary items include the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center and the Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park.
However, you might also want to catch Missouri Headwaters State Park, and even Clark’s carved signature over at Pompeys Pillar National Monument.
NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY
When history buffs think Montana, they think Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.
Similar to this, the Big Hole National Battlefield is set near Dillon, while the Madison Buffalo Jump State Park is located northwest of Bozeman.
We’ve got the History Channel beat in Montana. You've got battlefields galore, but also some historic forts.
Check out the H. Earl Clack Museum and tours of Fort Assinniboine in Havre, or the impressive Historical Museum at Fort Missoula.
You’re in Big Sky Country now, so you better learn your Montana history. You’re first stop is the State Capitol Building in Helena, while other historic sites include the Daly Mansion south of Missoula, and the Livingston Depot Center in yep, Livingston.
Then explore Montanie’s Old West heritage at Elkhorn Mine and the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site.
For some ancient sites also found on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, head to the Big Sky state.
Explore the Pictograph Cave State Park near Billings, and the public Wahkpa Chugn Archaeological Site in Havre – also known as the Too Close For Comfort Site.
Big Hole National Battlefield
Established in 1883, the Big Hole National Battlefield is located near Dillon on over 1,000 acres in western Montana. A Nez Percé War battlefield, the site commemorates the largest battle between the Nez Percé and 7th Infantry Regiment.
Managed by the National Park Service, Big Hole is part of the Nez Perce National Historical Park, and draws over 35,000 annual visitors. Park travelers may try guided tours, attend a summer lecture, explore the visitor center, or catch the 26-minute film, “Weet'uciklitukt: There's No Turning Back.”
The Daly Mansion was purchased in 1886 by Marcus Daly, an industrialist, on 46 acres of beautiful land near Hamilton. The mansion was remodeled in 1889 and again in 1897, to become a Queen Anne style home. The last renovation was completed in 1910 to resemble a Georgian-Revival style home.
Tour this historic 24,000 square foot home to view the 25 bedrooms, five Italian marble fireplaces, dining room, sun room, music room and trophy room.
The Mansion's exhibits showcase Daly's life beginning as an immigrant to becoming a copper magnate. Consider having your next special occasion, wedding or party in the mansion or on the sloping lawns on the Mansion grounds. This incredible Montana attraction is a must-see while in Hamilton or nearby Missoula.
The Elkhorn Mountains of northern Montana have a rich past. In 1872, the mountains were once the location of the Elkhorn Mine, used to mine silver. Swiss immigrant Peter Wys was the first to discover the silver. The mine was built six years later by Aonton Holter.
During the heyday of mining, the mine produced more then $14 million of silver. By 1890, the silver was in high demand, from the passing of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act. The town was the home to 2,500 residents and included a school, church, stores, a hotel and saloons. In 1893, the historical Fraternity Hall was built for social gatherings.
It remains as one of the most well preserved buildings. It remained a viable mine and town until the 1970s. While traveling in Northern Montana cities like Helena, Great Falls and Butte make for a comfortable nights.
Established in 1879, Fort Assinniboine is located in northern Montana just outside of Havre along Highway 87. Known as Montana's grandest military post, Ft. Assinniboine was home to roughly 750 soldiers and civilians at its peak.
Encompassing over 100 structures, Fort Assinniboine features tours beginning at H. Earl Clack Museum – set near the Holiday Village Shopping Center. Assinniboine is also a member of the Old Forts Trail – an official Montana historic trail.
Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site
Found near Sidney and on the state line between Montana and North Dakota, Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site preserves the trading history of the upper Missouri River between 1828 and 1867.
Activities at the fort include taking a self-guided tour of the reconstructed fort and trade house or taking in history at Bourgeois House's visitor center, museum, and bookstore. The post also offers an overlook hiking trail and numerous Junior Trader ranger programs.
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
See authentic American history sites in Montana. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is the site of the June 1876 battle between several thousand Lakota and Cheyenne warriors and the United States Army's 7th Cavalry.
It was the Native American's last effort to "preserve their way of life." Enjoy a ranger-led guided tour, talk or take a few moments to view the orientation film titled "Their Shots Quit Coming."
Visit the monument located in Crow Agency southwest of Billings in Eastern Montana, to view the site of where Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer's body was found after the battle.
Partake in the cell phone audio tour to listen to the narrative story of the battle, as you walk or drive along the road.
Livingston Depot Center
On your next trip to Montana, visit Livingston and check out the Livingston Depot Center. A restored Northern Pacific Railroad train station from 1902, the Livingston Depot Center originally served as the headquarters for Northern Pacific's Central Division.
By 1971, Amtrak had taken control of passenger train service, and by 1987, the Livingston Depot Center was converted into a living museum after the early 80s decline in railway passenger train use. Open for travel use from May through mid to late September, the Livingston Depot Center sees visitors all year round.
During the off season, the Livingston Depot can be rented for weddings, concerts, performances of most any kind, and parties. Fourth of July is when you'll find a big celebration at the Livingston Depot Center, as it, and the nearby Depot Rotary Park, hosts festivals and events for the occasion. Be sure to explore the Livingston Depot Center on your next visit to southern Montana, not far from Bozeman.
MonDak Heritage Center
In Montana, head east and discover Sidney. A pleasant border city known as "Montana's Sunrise City," Sidney is home to the MonDak Heritage Center – one of the premier museums in the area. Once there, be sure to check out the permanent exhibit, MonDak Pioneer Town. You'll head to the basement of the heritage center, which is largely dedicated to a recreation of a 20th century MonDak pioneer town – great for all ages.
At the MonDak Heritage Center you'll also be able to see a permanent art collection from artists like J.K. Ralston. Don't miss out on a tour of the Charlotte Rees Gabisch Art Library. Get out and enjoy a day exploring the city of Sidney with a visit to Central Park.
Wahkpa Chugn Archaeological Site
Also known as the Too Close For Comfort Site, the Wahkpa Chugn Archaeological Site is located on 15 acres in northern Montana. Set near Havre, the site is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
A public archaeological park operated by the H. Earl Clack Memorial Museum, the spot preserves a 2,000-year-old Native American buffalo jump site. Visitors may sign up for guided tours, and can check out the 20-foot buffalo bone wall.
Yellowstone Heritage & Research Center
Covering seven acres, the Yellowstone Heritage & Research Center is located in Gardiner – found in southern Montana at the north entrance of the Yellowstone National Park. Open weekdays at 9 a.m., HRC features guided tours of the massive facility.
This 32,000-square-foot complex is home to more than 5.3 million items exhibiting the ancient and historic background of Yellowstone. HRC features archives, an archeology lab, permanent collections, a research library, and more.