Curator's Corner Blog

Monthly Archives: March 2013

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Since St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, we thought we’d share a little history of beer in Missoula. As you might guess, the beer-loving culture here is no recent phenomenon.

One of the city’s more famous brews, Highlander, was originally crafted by a the Garden City Brewing Company, which opened in 1895. The brewery was located in the Rattlesnake, at the base of Waterworks Hill, where Interstate 90 now roars overhead. Garden City made beer for the local community (transportation through the mountains made it less than cost effective to ship product farther afield) until Prohibition put a halt to the sale of all alcoholic beverages nationwide. The owners tried to sell in 1922, but no one wanted to invest in a brewery during Prohibition times. They hung on selling “near beer” and other non-alcoholic beverages, then sold the business in 1934, the year after Prohibition was repealed. The new owners renamed the business the Missoula Brewing Company.

Ownership changed hands again in 1944, when the company was bought by Mr. Emil Sick. Sick owned several other breweries in the Pacific Northwest, including the Rainier Brewing Company. He released a light lager under the Highlander brand, which became enormously popular in Missoula. Most folks who grew up here have memories of Highlanders in the fridge or on tap at a bar downtown. The brand adopted its classic tartan logo in the mid-1950s; the previous logo, of an eagle spreading its wings, was a slightly revamped version of the old Garden City Brewing logo, seen in the photo of “4 Mile Exchange” below.

Collection of the HMFM. 1987.069.013.

Collection of the HMFM. 1987.069.013.

Highlander suffered, however, in the 1960s, when a general economic slowdown hit the region, and small breweries began to face fierce competition from new and growing beer conglomerates. Mr. Sick sold off many of his brands and decided to shutter the Missoula Brewing Company. The timing seems connected to the construction of I-90; Mr. Sick likely took the opportunity to close the brewery when an alternative (government buy-out) presented itself. Sadly, the old building was razed in 1964.

Missoula’s last old-school brewery closed in 1968, and it was almost 20 years before another one — Bayern — came to town. Now Missoula is back to producing excellent suds. What will you be downing this St. Paddy’s Day? In honor of the (mostly) German-American crew who created the brewing industry in Missoula (and America), we recommend a nice (green) lager and some pretzels with mustard (and corned beef). Or try a Highlander! The brand was revived in 2008. While the formula has changed, you’ll still be drinking a little piece of local history.

Garden City Building

The Garden City Brewing Company, probably sometime between 1895 and 1905.

Some of the men who worked at Garden City in the early 20th century included Joe Steiger (back row, left), Henry Emmerich (back row, 6th from left), and Joe Riddle, (back row, right).

Some of the men who worked at Garden City in the early 20th century included Joe Steiger (back row, left), Henry Emmerich (back row, 6th from left), and Joe Riddle, (back row, right).

inside Garden City Brewery

Henry Emmerich stands at lower right, next to brewing equipment.

Inside the brewery. Collection of HMFM. 1979.032.020

Inside the brewery. Collection of HMFM. 1979.032.020

Louvre Saloon

The Louvre Saloon in the old Hotel Florence must have sold Garden City Brewery beer; at right is Henry Emmerick, who worked at the brewery. Circa 1907. Collection of HMFM. 1979.032.007



In the early 20th century, a glass of beer cost a nickel at the 4 Mile Exchange in Cold Springs, Missoula.

Many of these photos were donated to the Historical Museum by Irene Dolan, whose father Henry Emmerick, shown in many of these images, worked at Garden City Brewing Company.

For more history of beer in Missoula, check out this Missoula Independent article or visit the Highlander website.

Pocket Watches

The history of pocket watches began around 1700 and they are still on the market today. Their rich history made them to look more valuable and brought lots of importance for their usages. Pocket watches have different shapes, colors and designs and each of them carries historically significant importance. The pocket watches with a heavy gold chain were considered the most popular and fancy among other kinds of pocket watches. They had a high demand because people acknowledged them as symbol of importance.

The primary differences between a watch and clock is portability. Peter Henlein from Germany was the first person who created many different watches. They were made of iron and designed in a drum shape that stood about six inches high. Henlein accomplished his great work in making watches in about 1500.

 Later on, he came up with with different idea of creating a special watch for ladies. The models watches designed as medal and chain shapes. Ladies were comfortable wearing those model watches on a sturdy chain around their neck. Mary Queen of Scots had one of the most popular kind of these watches. It came in the shape of human skull and had the inscription; “The impartial foot of pale Death visits the cottages of the poor and the places of kings”
              In 19th century watches were popular and most of them carried in the pocket.”Men did not wear wrist watches for fear of being thought effeminate.”