Historical Sites Glacier National Park & Western Montana

Historical Sites

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Montana's Historical Sites: Stroll Through the Past

Some say our history dates back to Lewis and Clark's voyage through Montana, while others say that going back 200 years is just dusting the surface. Regardless of your view, Montana's history has a rich heritage filled with pioneers, settlers, American Indians, miners, ranchers, bootleggers and trappers. Over the years, Montana grew as a territory for the strong-willed and iron hearted. While traveling through Big Sky Country, you'll find that our diverse history has created the Montana loved by many today.

Historical sites ranging from missions to fire lookouts can be found throughout the region.

Carve a New Path this Winter

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Northern Tier

Apgar Fire Lookout - Glacier National Park

Built in 1929, the original lookout burned down two weeks after its completion and was immediately replaced with the current two-story frame structure. The lookout is significant as being one in a chain of fire lookout posts within the park. Today, it's listed on the National Historic Lookout Register and offer beautiful views.

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Belly River Ranger Station Historic District - Glacier National Park

Located on the northeast section of Glacier National Park, the Belly River Ranger Station Trail can be accessed from Chief Mountain Custom's trailhead. The historic district includes several structures, including the original ranger station. It is the only ranger station in the park that cannot be accessed by road. The ranger station was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1986.

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Belton Chalet - West Glacier

Located in West Glacier, the Belton Chalet was the first Great Northern Railway hotel at Glacier National Park and would welcome guests arriving by train to the park, before they would travel into the park's backcountry chalets and tent camps. During the Great Depression, the Belton Chalet housed the crews working on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Over the years, the chalet housed many businesses, while today it is one of Montana's grandest historic hotels.

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Conrad Mansion - Kalispell

Once home to Charles E. Conrad, one of the founders of Kalispell, this Victorian-style mansion is located on the edge of the original town of Kalispell. Built in 1895, the mansion was home to Conrad and members of his family until 1974 when it was donated to the city of Kalispell. Today, the mansion is a museum and has many of the original family furnishings throughout its 26 rooms.

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Going-to-the-Sun Road - Glacier National Park

Spanning 50 miles through the heart of Glacier National Park is the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Completed in 1932, the road takes travelers from West Glacier to St. Mary and crosses the Continental Divide at 6,646-feet at Logan Pass, taking travelers through cedar forests, low valleys and alpine tundra and offering spectacular views. In 1983, the Going-to-the-Sun Road was included in the National Register of Historic Places and in 1985 it was designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

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Granite Park Chalet - Glacier National Park

Built in 1914 and 1915 by the Great Northern Railway, Granite Park Chalet was one of eight backcountry chalets and is one of only two that still exist today. The chalet is accessible by a seven mile hike along Glacier National Park's Highline Trail and offers rustic accommodations for hikers.

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Lake McDonald Lodge - Glacier National Park

Built in 1914 and located on the eastern shore of Lake McDonald, the lodge has welcomed guests to Glacier National Park for nearly 100 years. Today, the lodge serves as one of the finest examples of a Swiss-style chalet hotel in the United States. The main lodge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

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Sperry Chalet - Glacier National Park

Built in 1913 by Great Northern Railway tycoon James Hill and his son Louis Hill, Sperry Chalet is a National Historic Landmark and is built out of native rock. The chalet is accessible by Sperry Trail, which is nearly seven miles long and starts at Lake McDonald Lodge. The chalet offers private rooms, as well as meals.

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The 1908 Pruett House

Located in northwest Montana's Tobacco Valley, the Pruett House was built between 1908 and 1913. While its had several owners during the past century, it has retained many of its details, including original glass window pines, pocket doors, wall sconces and a skirted tub. Today, the Pruett House is a bed and breakfast in Eureka.

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DeBorgia Schoolhouse

This two-room, two-story schoolhouse was built in 1908 and was one of the only building in the area to survive the fires of 1910. Located at the crossroads of American Indian trails, the Mullan Trail and the Milwaukee and Pacific Northern railroads, it served students in grades one - eight until 1956. Today, it's used as a community center for the western end of Mineral County.

Southern Tier

Alta Ranger Station - Bitterroot National Forest

Located in the Bitterroot National Forest, the Alta Ranger Station was constructed by early forest rangers Nathaniel "Than" Wilkerson and Henry Tuttle, who built the one-room lodgepole cabin in 1899. It was one of the first ranger stations in the United States and is thought to be one of the oldest surviving buildings associated with federal forest management.

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Daly Mansion - Hamilton

Located near Hamilton, the Daly Mansion was the summer home of Montana Copper King Marcus Daly and his family. The 24,000 square foot mansion has 25 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms and seven fireplaces, as well as the Marcus Daly Memorial Arboretum and Botanic Garden. The home started as a farmhouse and was remodeled to a Queen Anne style Victorian home and Georgian-Revival style home. The Daly Mansion is open for tours from May - October.

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Florence Hotel - Missoula

Located in downtown Missoula on Higgins Avenue, the Florence Hotel was built in 1941 in order to accommodate the increasing number of automobile travelers passing through the Missoula area. Designed with distinctive 1940s Art Deco architecture, today the building houses a ballroom, several tenants and a restored lobby.

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Fort Fizzle - Lolo National Forest

The Fort Fizzle Historic Site Picnic Area parallels the historic Lolo Trail that was used by Nez Perce, Salish and Kootenai indians, as well as Lewis and Clark. Fort Fizzle itself was a wooden barricade that was constructed on the Lolo Trail to stop Chief Joseph during the Nez Perce War. Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce simply climbed a steep ravine and bypassed the soldiers, earning the previously unnamed barricade the name of Fort Fizzle.

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Fort Missoula - Missoula

Originally established in 1877 as a U.S. Army permanent military post on the southwest end of Missoula, Fort Missoula was built as an open fort that required troops to actively patrol their area. The fort has played several different roles over the years and is now home to The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula. The museum is located in the heart of Fort Missoula and houses a collection of 24,000 objects and 13 historic structures.

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Fort Owen State Park - Stevensville

Built of adobe and logs, Fort Owen is thought to be the site of the first permanent white settlement in Montana. Father Pierre DeSmet came to the Bitterroot Valley in 1841 and established St. Mary's Mission among the Flathead Indians, while Major John Owen established the fort as a regional trade center in 1850.

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Roxy Theatre - Missoula

One of Missoula's treasured landmarks, the historic Roxy Theater was once a dollar theatre before being gutted by fire in 1994. Today, the building is owned by the International Wildlife Media Center and the Roxy's three theaters are used for special events, performances, lectures and films.

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Wilma Building - Missoula

Located in downtown Missoula, the Wilma was built in 1921 in a Chicago style by William Simons, a producer of 'Wild West' shows. This eight-story building was commonly called the "Showplace of Montana" and was a living memorial to Simon's wife Edna Wilma—a famous light opera star. The Wilma has three theaters, private meeting rooms and residential spaces and regularly houses movies, concerts and stage performances.

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McCart Fire Lookout - Bitterroot National Forest

Constructed in 1939, the fire lookout—located in the Bitterroot National Forest south of Darby—was refurbished in the 1990s and is now available for rental. The lookout is listed on the National Historic Lookout Register and National Register of Historic Places.

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Missoula County Courthouse

A neoclassical sandstone structure, the Missoula County Courthouse was designed by Missoula's premier architect, A.J. Gibson and was completed in 1910. Taking up an entire city block, the courthouse houses eight large murals depicting early Montana history. The murals were painted from 1912 - 1914 by western artists Edgar Samuel Paxson.

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Northern Pacific Railroad Depot - Missoula

The depot is located at the north end of Higgins Avenue in Missoula and was opened in 1901, 18 years after the arrival of the railroad. A prime example of Renaissance Revival architecture, the depot serves as one of the major anchors in downtown. The building was designed by Reed & Stem, the same architectural firm that designed New York City's Grand Central Station.

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St. Francis Xavier Church - Missoula

Constructed between 1891 and 1892, St. Francis Xavier is a landmark of the Missoula skyline. Built in a Romanesque style, the building has large stained glass windows and murals painted by Brother Joseph Carignano—the same man who painted the murals in the St. Ignatius Mission.

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Stevensville Hotel

Designed by famed Missoula architect A. J. Gibson, the present-day hotel was built by Dr. William Thornton and was the first hospital in the Bitterroot Valley. Constructed in Classic Revival style, it has arched windows and Tuscan columns.

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Travelers' Rest State Park - Lolo

A historic and contemporary crossroads, Travelers' Rest was used by Lewis and Clark during 1805 and 1806 and is the only campsite on the Lewis and Clark Trail that has physical evidence of their expedition. Prior to its use by Lewis and Clark, Travelers' Rest was used as a campsite and trail junction by the Salish, Pend d'Oreille and Nez Perce indians. Storytelling by these tribes remains a significant part of the program at the park.

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Ninemile Historic Remount Depot - Huson

This historic depot provides the public with a look at a long-time working ranger station. The visitor center houses information about pack animals and firefighters that worked during the Northern Rocky Mountains during the 1920s to 1940s. Tours are available of the remount during the summer months, while the Forest Service District Office is open year-round. In 1980, the ranger station and depot were listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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University of Montana - Missoula

Montana's oldest university, the University of Montana opened in September of 1893 directly outside Hellgate Canyon. Today, the university is home to competitive sports teams, Montana's only law school and a strong journalist program. The University Area Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 and is home to beautiful styles of architecture, including Queen Anne, Craftsmen and Revival.

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Savenac Historic Tree Nursery Visitor Center - Haugan

Founded in 1907 as a United States Forest Service tree nursery, nursery options concluded in 1969 and the area is now used for cabin rentals and a visitor center. The visitor center has a Cape Cod style of architecture, as well as an interesting interpretive display that tells the nursery's story.

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St. Ignatius Mission

Established in 1854 by Jesuit Fathers and Brothers, the St. Ignatius Mission—a National Historic Site—features 58 hand-painted murals on its walls and ceiling. The murals were painted by Brother Joseph Carignano, a handyman at the mission. The mission grounds are also home to the original log cabin residence, chapel, museum and Sisters of Providence first residence. The mission is open to the public and conducts regular mass.

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Historical Sites in Western Montana & Glacier National Park

Western Montana's Glacier Country

News from Glacier National Park: Currently 15.5 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road are open for travel.

Bird Woman Falls

An icon in Glacier National Park, Bird Woman Falls is a glistening 492-foot-high waterfall that cascades down the side of Mt. Oberlin. From West Glacier, travel the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Bird Woman Falls Overlook, located on the west side of the Continental Divide.

Trail of the Cedars

This short boardwalk trail (ADA accessible) takes visitors through an old growth cedar forest. It’s also the beginning of the Avalanche Lake Trail (just over two miles long) that leads to Avalanche Lake—one of the most popular day hikes in Glacier National Park. Trail of the Cedars is located about five and a half miles north of Lake McDonald Lodge.

Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road

If your time in Glacier National Park is limited, one must-see attraction is the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This 50-mile long road takes travelers between St. Mary and West Glacier through the heart of the park, crossing the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. There are numerous pullouts along the road, ideal for taking photographs and enjoying the scenery.

See a Glacier

As you’re traveling the Going-to-the-Sun Road, pull over at Jackson Glacier Overlook (located east of Logan Pass). The overlook offers the best opportunity to see a glacier from the road.

Many Glacier Valley

Home to incredible mountains, active glaciers, abundant wildlife and miles of hiking trails, Many Glacier is located in the northeast section of Glacier National Park. Trails leave from this valley in numerous directions, with popular hiking destinations including Iceberg Lake, Grinnell Lake and Ptarmigan Tunnel.

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