Saturday, September 10, 2016
Fort Missoula Museum
Fort Missoula was established in 1877 after settlers requested protection against possible attacks from the Native American tribes living in the area - which was never a problem judging by the fact that the fort was built without defensive walls. In 1888 the 25th Infantry, comprised of black enlisted men with white officers, arrived at Fort Missoula. In an experiment to test the practicality of using bicycles for long distance troop transportation the 25th pedaled 800 miles from Fort Missoula to Yellowstone National Park and back, and 1,900 from the fort to St. Louis, Missouri.
The experiment ended with the start of the Spanish American War and the fort wasn’t used much until WWII when it became a detention center for 1,200 Italian merchant seamen, hotel employees, and World’s Fair workers who became marooned in the US after Italy joined the Axis in the fight against the Allies. About 1000 Japanese men also passed through the detention center before being transferred to other camps.
A portion of the original fort grounds has been set aside for the museum. The Quartermaster’s Storehouse has exhibits about the history of the fort and Missoula. Several other fort buildings, including a barracks from the detention center and an officer living quarters, house exhibits. About a dozen historic buildings from the area were moved to the grounds and have exhibits or interpretive signs. There isn’t a charge to visit the grounds and exhibits. A small fee is charged for the exhibits in the Quartermaster’s Storehouse.
The Quartermater’s Storehouse is accessible but the entrance has a vestibule with a door at either end, both opening outward, which requires both to be held opened to have room for wheelchair entry. The second floor is not accessible but a book is provided with photographs of the exhibits. Most of the other buildings on the grounds have ramps and are accessible. A paved walkway connects the buildings.
RV parking is along the fence opposite the car parking spots.
Fort 46.84403, -114.06265