“Kalispell: Montana’s Eden” unveiled at last

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.

Come on out for a Flathead Valley film premiere plus Q&A with “We Burn Like This” director Alana Waksman

Filmed in Billings, Butte, and Missoula in 2019 and following its world premiere at the 2021 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, international premiere at Deauville American Film Festival, and year-long film festival tour, “We Burn Like This” comes home to Montana audiences at the Northwest Montana History Museum on June 12.

The “We Burn Like This” Montana tour kicks off on June 9 in Billings at the historic Babcock Theatre, with stops in Livingston, Bozeman, Anaconda, Kalispell, Helena, and Missoula. Writer/director/producer Alana Waksman will be in attendance for a Q&A following the screenings with cast and crew joining her for select showings.

“We Burn Like This” is a coming-of-age story of Rae (Madeleine Coghlan), a young Jewish woman living in Billings, Montana and is written, directed, and produced by Alana Waksman in her feature debut. The film stars Madeleine Coghlan (THE ROOKIE) and Gotham Award and Indie Spirit Award winner Devery Jacobs (RESERVATION DOGS). Also featured are Montana-based actors Kendra Mylnechuk, Casidee Riley, Angelo Rizzo, and Megan Folsom. The film is produced and edited by Billings native Marshall Granger, produced by Montana native Jeri Rafter, and executive produced by Peabody and Emmy award winning producer Neda Armian (RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN) and Eleanor Nett.

When 22 year-old Rae, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, is targeted by Neo-Nazis in Billings, Montana, her ancestors’ trauma becomes real. Inspired by true events, this coming-of-age story shows the inherited effects of historical trauma and the strength of survival and healing.
Waksman’s own family history, as well as the spread of antisemitism in Montana, is what inspired her to write this story.

“We Burn Like This” is a recipient of the Big Sky Film Grant, Montana Arts Council Strategic Investment Grant, State Trade Expansion Program Grant from Montana Department of Commerce, Visit Billings Association Grant, and is now sponsored by Montana Film Office and Humanities Montana for its Montana Tour. “We Burn Like This” received the Audience Choice Award at the 2021 Montana International Film Festival among other noteworthy awards this past year.
“We Burn Like This” writer/director/producer Alana Waksman will be in attendance for the screening on June 12th and will host a special Q & A after the film.
Alana Waksman is an Ashkenazi writer, director, producer, and first generation descendant of Holocaust survivors from Poland. She is an alum of the USC School of Cinematic Arts MFA in Film & Television Production, and Connecticut College BA in Theater and English. As an actor, she trained at Shakespeare & Company, Berkshire Theater Festival, St. Petersburg Dramatic Arts Academy in Russia, and The O’Neill National Theater Institute where she studied under Colman Domingo. While at USC, Alana was chosen as one of ten top directors to co-direct USC’s first feature film, DON QUIXOTE: THE INGENIOUS GENTLEMAN OF LA MANCHA (Palm Springs International Film Festival) with the guidance of James Franco. Her short film BLACKOUT, written by David Haskell, received the Audience Award at the LA Shorts Fest, and Best Actor and Best Cinematography at the Women’s Independent Film Festival.

Tickets to “We Burn Like This” are $15 for the general public and $10 for Museum members. They are available by phone or in person at the Northwest Montana History Museum and online at Eventbrite – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/northwest-montana-film-premier-we-burn-like-this-qa-with-director-tickets-342420618287

The Northwest Montana History Museum is at 124 2nd Avenue East in downtown Kalispell. Call 406-756-8381.

Ukrainian Refugee Benefit Day

The Northwest Montana History Museum will add hours 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 14. For the entire day, museum admission revenue will go towards humanitarian aide to the refugees fleeing the crisis in the country of Ukraine.

Every dollar raised from admission on May 14 will go to the United Way Worldwide’s United for Ukraine Fund.

The fund addresses immediate needs such as transportation, accommodation, food, medicine, infant formula and diapers, and hygiene kits, as well as longer-term needs of those fleeing the conflict.

The Northwest Montana History Museum is at 124 2nd Ave. E. in downtown Kalispell. Regular hours are 10 to 5 Monday through Friday.

“The Lens of Ed Gilliland” shows landscape at large

After a six-month delay, the Northwest Montana History Museum is proud to present a much anticipated, can’t-miss showing of the E.B. Gilliland Photography Collection. The Museum will be offering a glace through The Lens of Ed Gilliland on Wednesday, May 11th, from 7 to 9 pm at the Northwest Montana History Museum.

Photography historian and NWMTHS board member Arne Boveng will present a “analog film night” of Ed s photography as the main event of the evening and an unofficial public unveiling of this remarkable collection. This will not be your typical digital or Kodak Carousel slide show – all the slides that Arne will present are larger format, at least two or three times larger than the typical 35 mm. The brilliance, clarity, and precision of these slides (which are mounted between glass plates) is far greater than nearly any other photography format.

Every negative that will be presented is an Ed-Gilliland-original taken in the 1980s or 1990s. Besides his beloved Glacier Park, Ed’s photography from the American Southwest and the Pacific Coast will also be highlighted. Ed had a real gift of capturing light just perfectly, and he worked hard at his craft, often returning to the same location day after day or at multiple times through the year to reveal changes to the landscape. Photography aficionados will be able to spot the subtle yet remarkable differences in the different slide formats that will be on display.

The event is free and open to the public. The Museum hopes you can join us on May 11th to share this special presentation of works from one of the Flathead’s finest photographers.

Before and after the slideshow, attendees will be able to view and purchase some of Ed’s printed work and historic photographs, including some images professional mounted on foamboard and ready for framing.

The Slideshow starts at 7 PM, but the doors to the Museum will open at 6 to give everyone a chance to view the prints for themselves. Beer, wine, and pop will be available for purchase before and during the presentation.

This is a good chance to own a piece of history, from the Flathead Valley, Glacier Park, or the American Southwest. Proceeds support the Northwest Montana Historical Society

“Scottish Stones: Destiny Calls” screens free

The Northwest Montana Historical Society is proud to partner with the Flathead Valley Celtic Festival to invite you to a can’t-miss evening cultural event for the entire family on Friday, April 8, at 6:30pm at the Northwest Montana History Museum! “Scottish Stones: Destiny Calls” is FREE to attend and will feature a 7:00pm showing of the 2008 Scottish film Stone of Destiny, paired an introduction packed with Gaelic history and culture from the fine folks at the Flathead Celtic Festival.

As Scotland fails to establish its own parliament once again, young patriot Ian Hamilton (Charlie Cox) vows to salvage national pride by returning the Stone of Destiny, a symbol of Scottish sovereignty to its rightful place. Trouble is, the talismanic brick has been housed in Westminster Abbey under watchful English eyes since 1296.Based on a true story, Stone of Destiney is rated PG and runs for 96 minutes. In addition to Charlie Cox, the films stars Billy Boyd, Robert Carlyle, and Kate Mara.

The Flathead Valley Celtic Festival is a 501(c)3 nonprofit with the mission to spread Celtic culture throughout the Flathead Valley. The organization is best known for the titular festival that is held on second weekend in September and includes a Scottish heavy games competition, traditional music and dance, educational workshops, and Celtic clan representation. Besides the Festival, the organization puts on a number of other educational events throughout the calendar year, with this movie night being the most recent addition.

This screening will be free to attend, and all donations will be split evenly between the Flathead Valley Celtic Festival and the Northwest Montana Historical Society. In addition, the Flathead Celtic Festival will be raffling off some prizes to help support its mission. Of course, in keeping with Celtic Festival traditions, beer will be available for purchase. Popcorn, snacks, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages will also be available.

The Northwest Montana History Museum is located at 124 2nd Avenue East in Beautiful Downtown Kalispell, Montana, and is open to the public Monday through Thursday, 10-5, through the end of March. Call at the Museum at 406 756 8381 with any questions or inquiries.

“How to Make a Million in the Wild West”: You can’t afford to miss this

On Thursday, January 27th, the Northwest Montana History Museum is happy to welcome Dr. Bill Farley, who will explore the many ways average men became self-made millionaires in Montana and the early American West. 
The Wild West era in American history is replete with stories of prospectors, merchants, and outlaws in search of great wealth. A rare few achieved their dreams, while everyone else either met their demise, returned home, or settled for steady wages working for others. In this presentation, author Bill Farley will discuss a variety of ways Wild West millionaires built their wealth – including James A. Murray, the most successful Irish entrepreneur in the American West – in a landscape where there were few laws and a skeleton of a justice system.

Bill Farley holds a Ph.D. from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. His research interests include economic and policy history with his work having been published in Montana: The Magazine of Western History, the Journal of San Diego History and the Journal of Policy History. He also has published trade articles in Wild West Magazine, American Ancestors, as well as a trade book on Montana Pioneer James A. Murray (Mountain Press Publishing, 2018). Dr. Farley has been an invited lecturer at the An-Ri-Ra Festival in Butte and on two occasions at the Montana Historical Association in Helena. He was recently commissioned by the Irish Royal Academy to prepare an entry for James A. Murray into the Dictionary of Irish Biography. 

How to Make a Million in the Wild West will be held at the Northwest Montana History Museum on Thursday, January 27th, at 7pm. The event is free to attend, and beer, wine, and pop will be available for purchase. 

Everyone is always welcome at the Northwest Montana History Museum. However, if you have a cough, a fever, or are just feeling under the weather, we kindly ask that you visit us some other time; not only for your own health, but for the well-being of our staff and other supporters.

The Northwest Montana History Museum is located at 124 2nd Ave E., Kalispell. Call 406- 756-8381 for more information.

The John White Speaker Series returns in a new, improved format

For nineteen years, the Northwest Montana Historical Society’s John White Speaker Series has been a highlight of the season, returning year after year to break up the dark winter and entertain us all with a reliable slate of engaging and insightful discussions.

If there was anything to be gained during the last year, circumstances propelled us even faster into the digital age, enabling us to reach more people than ever. At the same time, the personal, face to face connections were sorely missed. So this year, with lessons learned and new tricks up our sleeves, we are proud to offer BOTH in-person and digital presentations.

All John White Series presentations are Sundays at 2:00pm.
New for 2022, the Museum is happy to offer three different ways to experience the John White Speaker Series –

Members of the Northwest Montana Historical Society can reserve the entire series for a discounted rate of $35
General Admission to each individual event is $10 per person.

All admission sales include a digital version of the presentation, to be provided by email the day after the event. Purchase in person at the Museum (located at 124 2nd Avenue East in Downtown Kalispell), or call 406-756-8381 to register and pay by credit card.

Digital-only access will be available on the Museum website (https://www.nwmthistory.org/programs/john-white-speaker-series/) for $8 per event, and will also include entry to the “overflow” room at the Museum with a live-stream during the presentation. Like the other John Whites Series option, the digital version of the presentation will be provided the day after the event.

Due to health and safety preclusions related to the COVID 19 pandemic, in-person attendance will be limited, so advance reservations are highly recommended. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact the Northwest Montana History Museum at 406-756-8381, or by email at museum@nwmthistory.org.

Local author John Fraley adds to the annual holiday open house festivities

In what has quickly become one of our favorite events of the calendar year, the Northwest Montana  History Museum is once again happy to host our FOURTH annual Holiday Open House! The yuletide festivities begin Wednesday, December 15, when local author/ historian/ friend of the Museum John Fraley will pay us a visit to sign copies of the highly-anticipated RE-LEASE of Wild River Pioneers:

From its headwaters, the Middle Fork of the Flathead River flows 92 wild and scenic miles through the Bob Marshall and Great Bear Wildernesses and alongside Glacier National Park. It also flows through history, carrying the stories of explorers, trappers, prospectors, railroad builders and train robbers, moonshiners, hoteliers, horse packers, wilderness rangers, and more. Author John Fraley knows this river and its stories as well as anyone, and Wild River Pioneers is his collection of true tales about shootouts, grizzly bear attacks, a murder (and a hanging), secret caves, fortunes won and lost, a wily Josephine Doody bootlegging in Glacier National Park, and an ice cream–eating pet bear.

John Fraley will be at the Northwest Montana History Museum’s Schoolbell Books & Gifts on Wednesday, December 15, from 4:00 to 7:00pm.  John is always happy to chat about all of his books, which include 2018’s Rangers, Trappers, and Trailblazers, 2019’s re-release of A Woman’s Way West, and last year’s Heroes of the Bob Marshall Wilderness .  All three books are available in our Schoolbell Books & Gifts, so this is the perfect chance to pick up an autographed copy for your own personal library. They also make outstanding Christmas gifts! As a gift from us to you, for the evening of the 15th only, we are offering 10% off everything in our Schoolbell Books & Gifts (including John’s books)!

And by no means are the festivities confined to the Bookstore! The NWMTHS’ two newest exhibitions, A Tale of 10 Objects, 1910 to 1920 and Glories, Chores, and Hardships , are also scheduled to premier on December 15th! The halls of the Museum will be decked out in our holiday best, and  Christmas cookies will be on the menu, regardless if you’ve been naughty or nice! This event is completely free to attend. We HO-HO-HOpe to see you there!

Come witness the changes of time through then and now imagery

Change over time is often difficult to visualize. Before we know it, the landscape has shifted, buildings are demolished and erected, and new people and businesses have displaced what once was. And the truth is, we become accustomed to these changes remarkably quickly. Too often, all that is left is our memories, and those memories get dimmer each passing day. On Sunday November 14th, at 2pm, the Museum is happy to welcome back Doug Ammons, who will visit the museum with an innovative, visual presentation of how Montana has changed over time. The final decades of the 19th century are among the most dynamic in the history of the state, as the west was “won” and trading posts began to sprout into communities. Each image that Doug will introduce starts from this time period, before slowly changing before our eyes into the modern landscape, a century of transformation depicted in mere seconds. At each new image, eyes will widen and jaws will undoubtedly drop to the ground in amazement. On top of the visuals, Doug’s story-telling will bring the history to life in a way that a static photograph simply cannot.

Doug Ammons attended the University of Montana for degrees in mathematics and physics, and his PhD in experimental psychology, and has pursued many other interests such as geology and history. He is an award winning author, Emmy Award winning cinematographer, scientific editor, and extreme kayaker. There will be book sales and signing by the author.

Doug last visited the Museum in 2019, when he visited the Museum to talk about A Darkness Lit By Heroes, his excellent account of the Granite Mountain-Speculator Mining Disaster in Butte. The book has been chosen as the Museum’s Historic Book Club selection for December 1st. It is available in our Schoolbell Books & Gifts, and Doug will also be selling and signing copies of the book after the November 14th presentation.

Although Doug has delivered this presentation in the Valley before, it has since been expanded with never-before-seen content and more of a local, Northwest Montana flair! Masks are not required but are highly recommended for all attendees. The Museum is also exploring ways to make this content available digitally. This event is FREE to attend, and all donations will go to Doug to offset his travel expenses

Time to Break Out the Fabric Swatches: Quilting Classes Resume at the Northwest Montana History Museum

As the skies begin to clear and leaves begin to fall, all of us here in the Flathead Valley can breathe a small sigh of relief. However, with these welcoming signs of Autumn come cooler temperatures. And like clockwork, we also mark the season’s change with the return of our popular Quilting Class! Beginning in October, the class will be meeting at the Museum every other Wednesday through November from 1 to 4 pm.
FALL QUILTING DATES (all classes are on Wednesdays from 1 to 4pm)
Oct 6
Oct 20
Nov 3
Nov 17
Anybody interested can attend any or all weeks, as the class is completely free and open to the public. Participants can be complete beginners or experienced quilters looking to learn tips and new skills for projects, or looking for fellowship with fellow quilters. Swatches and tools are provided, although participants should feel free to bring anything they would like to use. The workshop is led by local quilter and Museum volunteer Betty Jo Malone, and, after a month off, will be returning on a similar schedule in January.  Any questions can be directed to Betty Jo at 406-755-6323. After the last couple of years, we can all us a little more comfort in our lives, so learning to make your own quilt should be first on your list.