Central Montana Museum
Our mission is to collect, preserve and exhibit artifacts and material items which depict the cultural aspects of Central Montana, beginning with the first inhabitants of the area. Through interpretation, it is our hope to portray their lifestyles and preserve the existence of the historical communities throughout the area for the education and enjoyment of this and future generations.
The area’s history is chronologically portrayed beginning in the 1870’s when the area was largely unsettled and buffalo roamed the open prairies. Our museum features many photos and displays portraying the changes that resulted as many settlers from all walks of life came to this area and filed on homesteads. Also on exhibit are a variety of collections (dolls, hats, wedding dresses, fire arms, forts, fossils, historic replicas and dioramas, Native American art and artifacts, medical equipment and photos from St. Joseph’s Hospital, military, photos, musical instruments, and many others) and displays with interpretation featuring some of the area’s most notorious characters:
- Rattlesnake Jake Owens (outlaw)
- Charles M. Russell (cowboy/famous artist)
- Granville Stuart (cattleman/Vigilante leader)
- Bertie Brown (moonshine entrepreneur/rancher)
- William Culver (photographer)
- Ed McGivern (sign maker/pistol fast draw exhibitionist/world record maker)
- Charlie Cooley (businessman/civic leader)
- Tom Toomey (saddle maker)
- Jimmy Kaaro (circus performer/trick roper/animal trainer/lawman)
- Jane Burnett Smith (bronc rider/stunt rider/author)
You're most welcome to sit a spell and thumb through our extensive collections of photographs and local history books of Central Montana’s communities or view educational media in electronic format. A variety of books, fossils, memorabilia, electronic media, and locally made products are for sale in the store area located near the front door.
Our displays are ever-changing as we strive to make each visit unique and memorable. We sure hope that you'll stop in and explore Central Montana's past. We'd be mighty obliged, too, if you'd encourage your friends and acquaintances to visit us as well.
The museum is open from 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM daily, Memorial weekend through Labor Day. Tours may be arranged during the off season by contacting Shirley Barrick at 406-535-9289.
Other Things You Might Like
The Winifred Museum is about 40 miles north of Lewistown and features clothing, household goods, newspapers, furniture, and nearly anything you could imagine from the homestead era. There are antique guns and tools, old cigarette cartons, outdated maps, saddles, and soldiers’ uniforms. Other notable collections include over 400 salt and pepper shakers that once belonged to the “town grandma" and what is claimed to be the largest collection of Tonka toys in the world. A dinosaur fossil name “Judith” is also proudly displayed in the Winifred Museum. This is a replica of the skull found just north of town in the Judith River formation. Judith was the first of her species to be discovered anywhere and was excavated right here in Central Montana. Surrounding Judith is a collection of smaller fossils, which may not be as eye-catching as the giant horned skull, but are still interesting to look at if you dig ancient history.
WWII Satellite Airfield
The Lewistown Satellite Airfield was constructed in Lewiston, Montana, during World War II as one of four training facilities for B-17 Flying Fortress crew members and included a storage site for the top secret Norden Bombsight. The Norden Bombsight, a synchronous stabilized bomb-aiming device, was considered fundamental in America's precision bombing doctrine. The extant bombsight storage shelter which housed the bombsight is one of a few known buildings of this type remaining in the United States. With construction complete by 1942, Lewistown was built as a satellite field for Great Falls Air Base. Squadrons were trained in the navigation of the B-17 in addition to receiving gunnery and bombing practice. Once their training was complete, the men were sent to the European front. The airfield was in operation during a 12-month period between 1942 and 1943 and thereafter deactivated.
Symmes Park has a tennis court, skate park, playground equipment, picnic tables, a baseball diamond, and horseshoes. The Park is also home to the Veterans Memorial Walk, featuring a Minuteman Missile, a Howitzer, and several other items. The Lewistown Area Chamber of Commerce and the Central Montana Museum are on the edge of the park.