Curator's Corner Blog

Monthly Archives: June 2012

Piece by Piece

Completely restoring a 1910 streetcar is not an easy task.  Piece by piece the streetcar was taken apart and restored.But more about that later…

Recently at the Museum, the trucks for Streetcar #50 were hauled off by Iron Horse Welding to be restored. When the trolley comes back in September, it will sit on these trucks in the exhibit, and allow the trolley to be rolled into the building on tracks both inside and outside the Trolley Barn building.

Check out a few images of these huge trucks being towed off! Thanks Iron Horse Welding- can’t wait to see the final project!

It’s Coming Back!

After twenty long years, our Missoula Streetcar #50 will finally be coming home!

In 1993 the streetcar, part of the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula’s collections, was sent to Big Sandy, Montana for restoration and preservation. The streetcar is ready to go, and staff and volunteers at the Museum are putting all the final details together to get ready for this homecoming!

Stay tuned on this blog and our Facebook to see all the streetcar happenings, historical facts, restoration information- and of course the  big reveal coming this September!

Check out the Missoulian article written about the homecoming!

The HMFM Summer Saloon- Window to the Museum Exhibit

Early Western saloons were not the typical swinging door, false fronted buildings, but often were dugouts sunk into a hillside. These types of saloons were found in early settlements, before the boom of mining towns. With the rise of these boomtowns and their main streets of businesses, so did the more commonly recognized saloons. A town’s prosperity was often calculated by the number of saloons it had. Saloons were also often more than sites for drinking. They often held town gatherings and dances, and had places for individuals to sleep.

Saloons were a very important part of Old West economy and society. They were a place to fulfill the need of human companionship, in an otherwise hard and difficult lifestyle. Saloons were more than places to drink, gamble and fight, but rather a place of gathering. Western saloons came into being, reached their height, and died with a dramatic suddenness, as did many boomtown businesses making Western style saloons another part of American history not appreciated until they were gone.

The HMFM Summer Saloon highlights items typically found within Old West Saloons, the difference is our Summer Saloon includes objects and photos dating from the early 1900s to today! Come out and see our newest Summer of the Seldom Seen exhibit in our Window to the Museum- it certainly is full of Fun, Foolery and History!

This bottle has a paper label wrapped around it, with the date September 6, 1919. Also handwritten on the label is where the bottle was purchased and what time.

Photograph from inside the Garden City Brewery


Jon Axline Lecture- Tuesday, June 12!

Join us at the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula on Tuesday June 12, from 7-9pm to hear Jon Axline’s lecture, “Wind Ship Weapons: Japan’s WWII Balloon Assault on Montana.”

A little known historical footnote is Japan’s campaign to terrorize the
Pacific Northwest by sending bombs attached to balloons in the waning months
of World War II.  At least 32 balloon bombs were discovered in Montana with
the first such weapon discovered near Kalispell in December 1944.  Although
nearly three hundred balloon bombs reached the US, the Japanese government
never knew about it.  Jon’s program will tell the story of the Japanese
assault on Montana at the end of World War II.

Jon Axline has been the historian at the Montana Department of Transportation since 1990.  While not sweating over the state’s historic roads and bridges, he conducts cultural resource surveys and writes the MDT’s roadside historical and geological interpretive markers.  He is the author of many articles on the Montana’s history on a wide variety of subjects ranging from the dinosaurs to railroads, Montana jerks, cold war radar stations,  flying saucers, MDT port of entry stations, and WWII Japanese balloon bombs that have appeared in Montana The Magazine of Western History and Montana Magazine to name just a few.  He is also author of  Conveniences Sorely Needed: Montana’s Historic Highway Bridges and editor of Montana’s Historical Highway Markers.