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Museum | Deer Lodge, MT

Old Montana Prison | By the museum
1106 Main St, Deer Lodge, MT 59722
2.3k 712

How Much

$6 - $10


All ages


Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun
No hours recorded for this day, check the description
No hours recorded for this day, check the description
Open: 10:00am, Close: 4:00pm
Open: 10:00am, Close: 4:00pm
Open: 10:00am, Close: 4:00pm
Open: 10:00am, Close: 4:00pm
Open: 10:00am, Close: 4:00pm

Contact Info

406.846.3111 Visit Website

Tagged as

Museum Historical


The Powell County Museum and Arts Foundation is a local non-profit membership organization which operates the Old Montana Prison as a Museum. As the Old Prison Complex contains buildings located on three blocks outside the Old Prison walls, other collections have been brought in to fill four museums.

PCMAF has a 99 year lease on the Old Prison from the State of Montana, but operates without any state or federal funding. The principal source of funding is through gate receipts and fundraisers such as the classic car raffle.

Our Mission: To preserve, protect and present elements of local and regional history and culture.

To be a repository for the history and life of Deer Lodge, Powell County and the State of Montana including but not exclusive to, historic buildings, photographic records, and/or artifacts for preservation, representing the past, present, and future.

To present and educate the members and the public to the significance of the items and artifacts in the repository of the Powell County Museum and Arts Foundation, and to advance this and other educational programs.

Prelude: The mining heritage is rich in Gold West Country, but the area around Deer Lodge was settled by ranchers. As the fur trade was dying out in the 1840s, an active livestock trade was founded along the Oregon Trail near here and led to the settlement of the Deer Lodge valley. The first territorial prison was eventually built in Deer Lodge where Montana's worst criminals were sent on a permanent vacation. Today, Deer Lodge has a plentiful supply of unusual historic attractions from theprison museums to the only U.S. National Historic Site that is also a working cattle ranch.

In 1850 Capt. Richard Grant with his sons, John and James Grant, began trading along the Emigrant road in Utah for footsore and worn-out cattle and horses. This stock was usually of good quality and only needed rest and a little care to make them fine animals.

The Grants spent the summers along the Emigrant road between Bridger and Salt Lake, and in the fall drove their stock up into what is now Montana.

In 1856 Robert Dempsey, John M. Jacobs, Robert Hereford, and Jacob Meek began trading along the Emigrant road and drove six hundred head of cattle and horses up into Montana and they, together with the Grants, wintered on the Stinkingwater.

When we came to Montana in 1858 the Grants and Jacobs had herds of several hundred cattle and horses. These cattle fattened on the native grasses, without shelter other than that afforded by the willows, alders, and tall rye grass along the streams. In the spring they were fat and fit for beef and were driven back to the Emigrant road and traded for more footsore and worn-out animals which in turn were driven back to winter range in Montana, the favorite places being the Beaverhead, Stinkingwater, and Deer Lodge valleys.

In the fall of 1860 we drove in sixty head of cattle and Robert Hereford brought in seventy-five head from the Emigrant road. At this time there was a small herd at St. Ignatius, a few at Fort Owen, and about two hundred head in and near Fort Benton. These herds all Increased rapidly and when gold was struck at Alder gulch every emigrant train brought in a few cattle, ranches were established and by 1863 cattle growing had become an industry of considerable importance.

Nelson Storey of Bozeman drove the first herd of Texas cattle into Montana in the spring of 1866. Storey purchased six hundred head of cattle at Dallas, Texas, and started north with them, arriving in the Gallatin valley on December 3, and camped where Fort Ellis was later located.

In 1878 D. S. G. Floweree purchased one thousand head of stock cattle in Oregon and placed them on the Sun river range and then began the stocking of ranges on a large scale.

The first beef cattle driven out of Montana was a small herd belonging to D. J. Hagan of Sun river. Hagan sold them to Omstein and Popper and delivered them at Salt Lake City In the fall of 1866. That same fall Jerry Mann drove one hundred and thirty head of steers and fat dry cows to Ogden and sold them.

In May, 1874, James Forbis purchased three hundred head of fat beef steers from Conrad Kohrs and drove them to Ogden and from there shipped them to Omaha by rail. Later In the summer Allen drove five hundred choice steers from the Madison valley to Granger on the Union Pacific and shipped them by rail to Chicago. In the summer of 1876 Kohrs drove three hundred head of choice steers to Cheyenne, Wyoming and shipped them to Davenport, Iowa.