About 3,500 people came down to the freshly laid railroad tracks in the center of Kalispell on New Year’s Day, 1892, to celebrate the completion of the Great Northern line to St. Paul. Kalispell was officially incorporated as a city a short time later, in April. The earliest occupations in Kalispell related to agriculture, flour milling, and the lumber industry. Traffic in town slowly shifted toward tourism as Kalispell became the Gateway to Glacier National Park.
The railroad brought Northwest Montana into the larger world; now, for the first time ever, the Northwest Montana History Museum tells the story of Kalispell in a permanent exhibit that brings the early town to life. “Kalispell: Montana’s Eden” details the story of this thriving city, from the railroad’s arrival up to the present day. Highlights of the display include a 20-foot-long model of Kalispell’s 1892 Great Northern railroad depot, a movie projector from the old Orpheum theatre, the first printing press of the Daily Inter Lake, THE OLDEST BALD EAGLES IN THE WORLD, and hundreds more historic artifacts!
As the largest exhibition curated in the past 12 years at the Northwest Montana History Museum, “Kalispell: Montana’s Eden” is a project more than three years in the making and the museum’s most ambitious undertaking in decades.
Everyone is invited to attend the free opening reception for “Kalispell: Montana’s Eden” from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, June 30. We will serve the same period-appropriate snacks that the revelers would have enjoyed in 1892. To add extra pomp and circumstance to this occasion, the fine folks at Portal Spirits Distillery have come up with historically inspired drink recipes that they will pour for guests at the reception.