There are over one thousand sites in Montana listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) with more being added each year. They range from eye candy to low brow. Most of them are private residences in towns large and small, but they also include captivating stories surrounding the traditional churches, banks, train depots, mansions, bridges and barns. Drill down further into the list and you will find even deeper stories. There is a creamery, a radio station, hotels, an oil field sign, a Depression era airway beacon on the Continental Divide that guided mail planes, a few irrigation ditches, a gas station, pump stations and “Froggy’s stopping off place on the Whoop-up Trail.”
This conversation will begin with a brief discussion on how potential sites are nominated and what the procedure is to bring them into the larger list. An illustrated (PowerPoint) presentation will follow featuring a sampler of sites focused chiefly on Montana’s “built landscapes” and how they fit to the historical themes of our state’s development.
Michael J. Ober is three generations deep into Montana’s history and lore. Born in Havre, Montana, he graduated from the University of Montana with a BA and MA degree American History and, later, a Master’s of Library and Information Science from the University of Denver. His professional career spans forty years as Director of Library Services at Flathead Valley Community College where he also taught Montana History. Seasonally, he worked as a wildland fire fighter, backcountry ranger and law enforcement road patrol ranger in Glacier National Park for forty-four years. He is the author of Glacier Album, (Riverbend Press, Helena) a showcase of vintage photographs of Glacier Park. He recently released his new title: Montana Historic Places on the National Register: From Banks and Barns to Bridges and Battlefields (Mountain Press, Missoula) and numerous articles in state and regional periodicals about Montana’s culture and history.