Curator's Corner Blog

Monthly Archives: July 2012

A Loving Stitch; Quilting in the USA – Window to the Museum Exhibit

Quilts are used for many purposes, including bedding, decoration, campaigning, documenting, and artistic expression. Some quilts have very simple patterns, but there are quilts that take a very long time to prepare and make.

The Historic Museum at Fort Missoula has an arrange of  quilts ranging from the early 1800s to the late 1900s. Each quilt tells a different story. The history of quilts started before Europeans settlers came to America. In every part of the World there has been some form of quilting. When the English and the Dutch settlers came to the Americas, they brought their quilting methods, which took on a new life and has flourished throughout the years.

Quilts are a cherished heirloom and provide a glimpse into the history of quilting and of the United States. During WWI women were urged to make quilts for soldiers. During the Great Depression quilting was common among women and families relied on quilts to keep their families warm. During WWII quilting helped raise money to help support the Red Cross.

So come on down to get your quilting fix at the Window display in the beautiful Historic Museum at Fort Missoula!

"Crazy Quilts" became popular in the 1880s. Crazy Quilts are known for their random patterns.








The "Log Cabin Quilt" is meant to represent a log cabin. The pattern is believed to have originated during the Civil War as a symbol of patriotism for Abraham Lincoln, who was known as the "Log Cabin President".






The "Wedding Ring Quilt" is known for being a very difficult pattern to make. It symbolizes never ending love.








Rolling quilts is an important part to persevering the artifact

The Story of Missoula’s Streetcar #50

Missoula’s first streetcar system began operations in May of 1892 and operated through August of 1897 when re-planking of the Higgins Street Bridge necessitated the removal of the tracks.

In June of 1907, U.S. Senator William A. Clark toured the Bitterroot and Blackfoot Valleys in hopes of forming a trolley system from Great Falls to Missoula, and then south to Hamilton. Clark’s Missoula Street Railway Company was incorporated February 1909 and streetcar service was again available in Missoula from 1910-1932.

Missoula’s street railway track eventually stretched from the University of fort Missoula through the business district, with a loop at the Northern Pacific Railway Station to form a link with the railroad, and then continued on four miles east to Bonner. Over a period of two and a half years, 2,500,000 passengers were served and approximately 1,000,000 car miles were run.

Missoula was the first city in the U.S. to successfully operate a “one-man” trolley system with only one operator per car on Streetcar #50, which ran the Interurban line between fort Missoula and Bonner twice per day from 1912-1932.

The Missoula Street Railway Company was bought by Missoula Public Service in 1924, who operated it until 1928 when Montana Power Company then purchased it.

War and post-war inflation, along with the proliferation of internal combustion engines powering cars and buses throughout Montana, cut into street railway revenues and eventually undermined the state’s systems. Billings, Bozeman and Helena street railway systems collapsed. On January 24, 1932, Missoula’s beloved cars made their last run.

Most of the cars were placed in a tourist camp and later used for housing. In 1974 the only remaining car, the #50, was donated to the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula. In 1993 the Museum looked into selling it for commercial use at Caras Park, as it has severely deteriorated from years of being outside in the elements.


Nothing like a good old fashioned tractor parade!

A Good ‘Ole American Fourth of July!

It’s finally summertime here in Missoula, and that can only mean one thing…its the annual Fourth of July Celebration.  For 36 years families from all over have joined us at the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula for our fun filled Fourth of July Celebration!

For a full afternoon of fun, its only $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2 for students or $15 max for all families. The fun starts at 10am and goes until 4pm!

The YUMMY pancake breakfasts starts at 8am! (additional fee for breakfast)

This year is bigger than ever- as always enjoy the delicious pancake breakfast put on by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from 8am to 10am.

Musical entertainment at the Gazebo then starts at 10am with the Montana Tuba Chorale, followed by the Black Mountain Boys and Silk Stockings. The Welcoming Ceremony, hosted by Don Spritzer with special guest Patrick Henry (Director, Robert M Brown) is at 1pm. Music continues after the ceremony with more from the Silk Stockings and rounding out the day with the Quartet Caribe.

Music at the Gazebo all day long!

But there is so much more than just music! Homestead Cabin activities happen from 12-3pm with old-fashioned demonstrations and hands-on activities including laundering, drop spinning, wheat grinding and rope making. Also head to the Homestead Cabin for music by the Brian Hall Quartet and to pet some farm animals from the Missoula County Public Schools Ag-Ed Program.

Fun activities for all ages at the Schoolhouse and Homestead Cabin

The silent auction will begin at 10am- and close at 2pm. Get over there quick and often to make sure you go home with some exciting new items!

Bring home some new goodies from the silent auction!

Throughout the day there will be food vendors near the Gazebo, including cold drinks from out two sponsors- Pepsi and Bayern Brewery! The Society of American Foresters will have sawmill demonstrations. The Missoula Model Railroad Club, Inc will be in the Depot while John Barrows will demonstrate the telegraph! Antique engine displays will be around the Tipi Burner, with a tractor parade at 1:45. The Hellgate Amateur Radio Club, The Society for Creative Anachronism and the Missoula Fire Department will all have displays as well.

Nothing like a good old fashioned tractor parade!

And this is only the beginning! So much more fun is to be had on the Fourth of July at the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula. A personal favorite of the Collection’s Department will be the opening of the NCO Quarters building, the oldest building at HMFM,  for the first time ever to the public! Come and see some of the work we have done to preserve the building, as well as a brand new shiny exhibit!