Preserve America Community:
Big Horn County, Montana
Located in southern Montana, Big Horn County (population 12,798) is one of the largest counties in the state. The local government was established in 1913, with the city of Hardin designated as the county seat. Homesteaders, ranchers and farmers settled into the area, sharing parts of the county with two federally recognized Indian tribes, the Crow (Apsáalooke) Nation and the Northern Cheyenne Nation.
In 1907, Hardin's first depot was assembled, after being brought in pieces by train from Fort Custer. The building was expanded several times and served travelers well until 1969, when passenger service to Hardin ended. The depot closed for good in 1991 and soon fell into disrepair. In 2006, concerned citizens partnered with city and county governments to restore the structure. The building, now known as the Hardin Historical Depot, hosts several community events, and is often rented for wedding receptions, class reunions, art exhibits, and other private and public gatherings. The depot also houses the Hardin Area Chamber of Commerce and the Hardin-Big Horn County Historical Preservation Office, as well as a tourist information center.
In 1979, the Big Horn County Historical Museum (BHCHM) was established, located just 15 miles from the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn. The museum is a complex of more than 20 historical buildings. Its mission is to collect, interpret, preserve, restore and exhibit items pertinent to the county's abundant history in such a manner that will be interesting and educational for present and future generations. In 2006 the Big Horn County Historical Society met to discuss the BHCHM's future and began planning an extensive expansion and renovation of the museum, scheduled for completion in 2011.
The county is known for its annual four-day Little Bighorn Days event, celebrated each June. The festival includes exhibits, historical book fairs, music, dancing, parades, and living history events. These include a Native American family making and selling traditional crafts as well as a 19th century period ball. One of the festival's highlights is the Custer's Last Stand Reenactment, preceded by a living history event where visitors can watch and interact with the soldiers as they prepare for battle.
Big Horn County Historical Museum and Visitors' Center: http://www.bighorncountymuseum.org/
Crow (Apsáalooke) Nation: http://www.crowtribe.com/govt.htm
Northern Cheyenne Nation: http://www.cheyennenation.com/index.html
Posted August 5, 2010