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Fort Missoula Museum, Missoula

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Natural History Museum · History Museum
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Fort Missoula was established as a permanent military post in 1877 and built in response to requests of local townspeople and settlers for protection in the event of conflict with western Montana Indian tribes. It was intended as a major outpost for the region; however, area residents also were quite aware of the payroll, contracts, and employment opportunities Fort Missoula would provide. Fort Missoula never had walls; rather, it was an "open fort," a design common for posts located west of the Mississippi. Open forts required troops to take the offensive and actively patrol the areas to which they were assigned.

Construction had barely begun when the Company Commander, Captain Charles Rawn, received orders to halt the advance of a group of non-treaty Nez Perce Indians. The Nez Perce, led by Chiefs Joseph, Looking Glass and others, simply went around the soldiers' hastily-constructed earth and log barricade in Lolo Canyon (later called "Fort Fizzle") and escaped up the Bitterroot Valley.

The black 25th Infantry arrived at Fort Missoula in May 1888. See 25th Infantry to learn more.

The efforts of Congressman Joseph Dixon of Missoula led to the appropriation of $1 million in 1904 to remodel Fort Missoula. A modern complex of concrete buildings with red tile roofs was constructed between 1908 and 1914, including a new Officer's Row, barracks, and Post Hospital.

The fort was used as a military training center during World War I, but was almost abandoned by 1921. However, it was designated as the Northwest Regional Headquarters for the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933.

Fort Missoula was turned over to the Department of Immigration and Naturalization in 1941 for use as an alien detention center for non-military Italian and Japanese-American men. See Alien Detention for more information.

The camp was used as a prison for military personnel accused of military crimes and other personnel awaiting court-martial following World War II. After the post was decommissioned in 1947, many of the buildings were sold, dismantled, and removed from the site. The majority of the land is now in the hands of non-military agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and Missoula County (including the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula).
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Fort Missoula Museum reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
148 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • Lot of history about Fort Missoula and the museum has an extensive collection of artifacts, including forest service equipment. The post also has remnants of the period during world war 11 when... 
    Lot of history about Fort Missoula and the museum has an extensive collection of artifacts, including forest service equipment. The post also has remnants of the period during world war 11 when...  more »
  • We had some time to kill and I found this on Trip Advisor. Easy to find and well worth your time to see. The main museum has exhibits on history of the fort (did you know that they had the country's.....  more
    We had some time to kill and I found this on Trip Advisor. Easy to find and well worth your time to see. The main museum has exhibits on history of the fort (did you know that they had the country's.....  more »
Google
  • A nice museum that's free to Missoula residents and $4 per adult. Whole families are never more than $10. Has an indoor area to tour as well as grounds with old historical buildings. They were even setting up for a beautiful outdoor wedding the day we went. Very beautiful place!
  • The Historical Museums at Fort Missoula Regional Park interested me the most, particularly regional history. The outdoor exhibits alone are worth a walk through. I liked the old sawmill equipment. At certain times of the year they demonstrate the saws. There are railroad cars, a lookout tower, log cabins, indoor museum, and military history. There is a separate military museum and another exhibit about the WW2 detention camp which I found as a sobering aspect of US history.

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