Iron Dreams: Montana and the Pacific Railroad Surveys of 1853

Program Description

In the Spring of 1853 over 200 men stepped off from St. Paul Minnesota, bound for the heart of the Northwest. The Stevens Expedition was just one of five survey parties sent into the American West that year, but it was by far the largest and most ambitious of them all. Tasked with finding and mapping the best route for the nation’s first Transcontinental Railroad, it would be the most substantial government-sponsored exploration of the interior U.S since the days of Lewis and Clark. While often forgotten and overlooked, the Stevens Expedition fundamentally altered the Northwest, and continues to affect the lives of Montanans today.

This program will follow the story and immediate aftermath of the Stevens surveys through Montana in 1853-1854 as well as treaty negotiations in 1855; going forward into some of the aftermath and legacies of the expedition as a whole. It can apply to most of Montana, as portions of the expedition explored most major areas of Montana aside from the southeastern portion in the Yellowstone drainage.

Presenter Bio

Austin Haney has had a passion for sharing stories of his home since he was little, fostered by a history-loving grandfather who took him to every historical site they could visit. Austin loves Montana like nowhere else, and believes that Montana has some of the most poignant and powerful stories to share with the world. Austin has volunteered with historical organizations from a young age, and knew early on what he wanted to do in life. He has since worked in public history interpretation for a career; working for a variety of private, state, and federal institutions like the Blaine County Museum, Lewis and Clark Foundation, US Forest Service, or the US National Park Service.


Austin Haney