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Fort Missoula Museum, Missoula

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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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113 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • This is one of those places that will intrigue history buffs. It is also a place you have to want to go to since it a little off the beaten path. That said, it is worth the effort.  more »
  • We spent part of two days at the Museum. We initially came on a Sunday when the indoor portion was closed. We spent a couple hours looking at all the old equipment that had been restored. Some amazing...  more »
  • They are currebtly restoring the fort so I am sure more of it's history will be made available. My husband and I were blown away to find out that members of our Italian population were held here.  more »
Google
  • You can spend an entire afternoon if not a full day reading and learning from all the exhibits they have here at Fort Missoula. They're also picnic tables and Greengrass to have lunch on so you don't even need to leave the premises. There's Fort history Native American history. Lots of exhibits on farming equipment logging equipment, Railroad and mining equipment. Many many of the buildings have been restored and have exhibits in them others are restored just as they were. They also quite a few waiting for restoration and of course accept donations to further the expansion of exhibits in the museum. My favorite is going inside the smelter and looking up it's pretty cool then go climb the fire tower.
  • Growing up we went on field trips in elementary school...and would recommend it to any one of any age
  • Take the guided tour! I have lived in Missoula for most of my life and I learned a ton of cool information.
  • currently being remodeled and would likely prove to be five star when they get it finished. Please take the time to check out the Military Museum, its great!
  • Out of the way, unknown by most, worth a look, quiet retreat and walk.
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12 days in Missoula BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES December, popular PREFERENCES: December ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 5 days in Montana BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, culture, outdoors, romantic, wildlife, hidden gems PREFERENCES: July, culture, outdoors, romantic, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 5 days in Missoula BY A USER FROM GUAM May, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: May, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 9 days in Missoula BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Missoula BY A USER FROM CANADA August, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: August, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 7 days in Missoula BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, culture, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, hidden gems PREFERENCES: June, culture, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 14 days in Montana BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES May, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, wildlife, hidden gems PREFERENCES: May, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 9 days in Montana BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES September, historic sites, museums, wildlife, hidden gems PREFERENCES: September, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 21 days in United States BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 12 days in Missoula & Dallas BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES August, shopping, wildlife, hidden gems PREFERENCES: August, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 3 days in Missoula BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES April, teens, kids, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, wildlife, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: April, teens, kids, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 9 days in Missoula BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
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