Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Missoula Montana

What do a carousel, a mascot, and a historic site have in common?  They can all be found in one of my favorite communities - Missoula, Montana.  Lewis and Clark passed through the valley in 1805.  C.P. Higgins and Francis Worden opened a trading post in 1860 calling it “Hellgate Village.” In 1877 the US Army established Fort Missoula it was decommissioned in 1947.

Montana was still a territory when an act of Congress dedicated 72 sections for the creation of the University (February 18, 1881).  It was founded in 1893 and formally opened in 1895.  The University even has it’s own zip code 59801 and its own postal service.  It also has a friendly rivalry with my Alma Mater, Montana State University – Bozeman.

Monte is the University mascot and in 2008 Jennifer Newbold wrote “The Great MonteMystery” (picture book).  I loved how she incorporated local landmarks within the story.

The Missoula Carousel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07TCYSLEEis is on my must see list.  In 1991 Chuck Kaparich a Missoula cabinet maker approached the city council.  He told them, “If you will give it a home and promise no one will ever take it apart I will build A Carousel for Missoula.” It was approved.  He taught volunteers to carve and paint and he rebuilt the mechanical parts of an old carousel. In 1995 the project was completed.  125 businesses and 1100 people had contributed financially, 240 volunteers had completed over 100,000 hours to make it a reality.

The day I was there a young bride and groom were enjoying the carousel with their wedding party.  They radiated such joy and promise.

A couple of Carousel Facts:
 - 38 carved horses, 2 chariots
 - 800 hours to carve and paint each horse

Fort Missoula is now a historic site.  May 12, 1896 2LT James Moss received permission to organize the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps.  It was the first of its kind in the country.  The story of the Black Bicycle Corps is an amazing story.  I first learned about the Regiment in an article featured in the Army Times many years ago. http://www.fortmissoulamuseum.org/blackbicyclecorps.php

Between 1941-1944 it served as an Alien Detention Center.  It held 1,200 non-military Italian men, 1,000 Japanese residential aliens, 23 German resident aliens and 123 Japanese Latin and South American aliens. http://www.fortmissoulamuseum.org/aliendetention.php

There are three major post offices in Missoula two in town and one on campus.  Check out the rainbow and flag near one of the post offices.


  1. Wow! I got to visit a new place! Thanks for the words and pictures that took me there.

  2. Your well researched travel story makes me want to visit Missoula. The story of the carousel reminded me of one I visited in Salem, Oregon. This sparked a little investigation of my own. Guess what? A Salem woman visited the Missoula carousel in 1995 and became so inspired spearheaded a similar effort in her community. No wonder it was so familiar.

  3. What a great connection.  Thank you for sharing.  It is amazing how interconnected we are.  

  4. You always have such wonderful photos, Ruth.  That rainbow & flag is amazing.  I especially love the story of the carousel.  They are so special & the story you told makes that one very special indeed.  Thanks.

  5. Thank you.  This was the first time I got such a clear picture of a rainbow.

  6. Love the carousel story--what a fitting place for a bride and groom to celebrate, Let nobody ever tear them down either.  :-)

  7. What an interesting piece on Missoula. Love the photos you included. The carousel would be so fascinating  to visit.
    Thanks so much for stopping by. Your thoughtful response really deserves its own post! Lots to think about there.

  8. I love the pictures and the links you provided.  We have a practice test about the Black Bicycle Corps.  Now I have a link to post on my class website for students to follow up and learn more.  

  9. Thank you for my virtual visit. I really do hope to come to Montana one day. Now I know more about what to look for.

  10. Storykeeper FerrisJuly 25, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    I am intrigued by your comment, what type of test?  Here is another link you may find useful.  http://nrhc.org/history/25thInfantry.html

  11. Storykeeper FerrisJuly 26, 2012 at 6:18 AM

    I looked the bicycle corps up on Chronicling America (Digitized Historical Newspapers)  Here is a link to a report in the 1897 Standford KY http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1897-07-27/ed-1/seq-2.pdf


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