Yellowstone Gateway Museum
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118 W. Chinook St
Livignston, MT 59047

Yellowstone Gateway Museum

Begun in 1962 the Park County Historical Society was founded to maintain a history of Park County.

The meetings revolve around family histories as well as travel videos.

The Park County Historical Society sponsors an annual tour of an area of Park County.

Visit the Annual tour section to see a portion of 1991 Paradise Valley Tour

The Park County Historical Society meets the 2nd Tuesday of each month. The meetings are held at the Senior Citizen Center at 7:30pm.

Please attend and find out more about us!

Park County Historical Society


The Park County Historical Society sponsors an annual tour presenting some portion of Park County. These tours are produced in the form of a written guide and include detailed descriptions along the route. These easily followed tours have the mileage is spelled out representing the distance from our County-Court building. Below is an excerpt from the 1991 tour into the Paradise Valley. A complete collection of these tours can be purchased from the Park County Museum Store when you visit Livingston.


West Side of River


21.3 L(eft)-- Across river, home of Bobbi Sackett; old Dunn place. Site of early ford for Emigrant Gulch miners to cross river. Ferry 1880. Post Office of Riverside and store 1882-4, established by Dr. Don Byam, judge who presided at Nevada City trial and hanging of George Ives, which led to formation of vigilantes. Foundation stones still present in old trees in background. Old Yellowstone Trail followed along the east side of river here; marker on Park County Museum grounds came from area where lane turns down to Sacett place.

R(ight)--Eight Mile Creek comes to Yellowstone River. Was the site of Chicory section house 1883-1920; in 1883 smelter here for ore from Emigrant Gulch.
At this site portion of the water of Park Branch Canal is flumed under the road and river to serve ranches on east side of Yellowstone. See new canal on Sackett place.

23.6 R--Site of old Northern Pacific Railroad water tower; track here until 1976.


Old Saloon, built 1902; owned by Ab Armstrong, Elmer Armstrong, Charlie Pierces, Dave Ogans, Inverness, Dave Beck, and now by Bob and Paula Fjelstad. Tepee was brought from 1962 Seattle World's fair by Bill Nevin; now owned by Fjelstad and Don Ellis.

25.3 L--Park Branch Canal takes water from the Yellowstone River as it has since constructed in 1890's as Armstrong Ditch.

26.3 View of Buffalo Jump and drive lines that was described in the Bulletin put out by the Smithsonian Museum in 1982. Drive lines are still visible. Site has been "off limits" for several years.

29.1 Toward the river to the left was camp site of Hayden expedition to Yellowstone Park in 1871.

The tour continues another sixty miles - we enjoy driving in Montana - and is available at the Park County Museum or by visiting their web site PCM.




By Col. Wm. S. Brackett.

If you look on almost any large map of Montana and Wyoming you will note the source of the Yellowstone River near a mountain marked on the map as "Youth's Peak," and lying about 25 miles southeast of the Yellowstone National Park. The river flows from an immense snow field on this mountain, in a northwesterly direction, and empties into Yellowstone Lake, which lies wholly within the park; then it flows out of the lake at the lower or northern end and leaping downward a sheer depth of 360 feet, over the Great Falls of the river, it rushes still northward for a hundred miles - one of the most beautiful streams of the Rocky Mountains. The real name of the mountain where the Yellowstone rises is Yount's Peak, so called after a trapper who lived for a long time along the banks of the river in the early days of Montana's settlement. Perhaps the fine new maps of this region now being made by the United State's Geological Survey will not rob Yount's Peak of its true name.

About 25 miles north of the park is a widening of the valley of the Yellowstone, where there are a number of fine ranches, and on one of them, opposite Emigrant Peak, where I am writing, there are interesting remains left by the Indians who lived and hunted in this now fertile valley as late as the year 1876.

Just above our ranch house is a mesa, or tableland, from whose flat top can be seen the green fields under irrigation along the river, and the lofty mountains hemming in the valley on every side. Only ten years ago there were no cultivated fields in this valley, and the elks and buffaloes found here in their favorite feeding ground. the plain on this mesa is almost rectangular in shape, and at the corner, overlooking the whole region, are stone structures that we have named the "Indian Forts." We do not know whether the Indians, who undoubtedly built them, used them as forts for defending their village or camp up on the mesa, or whether they were used as watchtowers for their sentinels. Sometimes we think the Indian hunters used them to creep into and to spy out the large game feeding among the hills and in the valley below.

These forts are semicircular in form, and are built of selected square stones, piled up in a parapet or breastwork about four feet in height. They are open on the inner side of the plateau, and have space for two or three men to lie concealed and protected within. The forts must have been built many years ago because the stones are now pretty well covered with moss and lichens, and these do not grow as rapidly in this dry climate as in the Eastern States. No one is permitted to disturb these monuments of a race now almost departed, and I hope that some careful student of American archaeology may hereafter explore this region and explain the ancient use of these so-called "Indian Forts."

Just below one of the forts and at the bottom of the cliff I found, last summer, a buffalo skull and horns, over grown and almost concealed by a wild rosebush. Perhaps the buffalo was shot by an Indian lying in the fort above. This made me think the forts might have been used for watching large game. But when you are up on the mesa you can easily see how well adapted the place is to prevent surprise and for military defense. The sides are perpendicular precipices of volcanic rock. At only one place can you go up on horseback; there are only two or three places where you can climb up on foot. On the level top a thousand men could be placed in camp. The forts may have been used, like watchtowers on the corners of a feudal castle, by the wild chivalry once inhabiting these mountains.

About half a mile from this mesa is a little sheltered valley, back in the foothills, where the Indians used to pass the winter one of the pioneers of this region tells me. The place is sheltered from the winds and the snow seldom drifts there. In a level spot in this valley are three circles of smooth flat stones laid on the ground, each circle being about 15 feet in diameter. Washed by the rains of many seasons, these stones are now partly imbedded in the ground. We do not know exactly the purpose of these water-worn rocks laid so regularly in circles, but one of our neighbors, an "old timer" in Montana, tells us the Indians used them in winter to lay around the bottom or lower edge of their tepees to keep out the cold. Most Indian tepees are conical in shape and circular at the bottom, with a hole at the top where the poles meet for the escape of smoke from the fire built in the center of the structure. In the old days, when the buffalo and other large game were plenty, the Indians made their tepees of smoke-tanned hides. Now the buffalo are entirely gone and other large game is so scarce on the Indian reservations that the tepees are covered with cloth, generally thin white calico. The Indians have but few skins and their calico tepees are very cold in the winter.

The most interesting of the Indian remains on our ranch is at Buffalo Bluff, where there is a remarkable game drive. Under the cliff, which is about 40 feet high, the ground is white with the splintered bones of large game animals that have been driven over the precipice - buffaloes, elks, and deer. Above is a level plain stretching back for several miles into the foothills. The cliff is only about a hundred yards wide at the steep part where the game was driven over. How did they manage to make wild animals run to this narrow cliff and leap over? You can see at once how this was accomplished when you climb to the plain above. There can be seen two long lines, composed of piles of stones, stretching out on the plains, each line about half a mile long and diverging from the edge of the cliff like the two arms of an open fan. The piles of stones are about 10 feet apart and each stone heap is 2 to 3 feet in height. When the Indians last used this game drive, which was about fifteen years ago, they set up wooden stakes about 5 feet long in each stone pile. From stake to stake were stretched lines of stout buckskin cord, like wires on a barbed wire fence, and from these cords were hung at short intervals feathers, strips of bright cloth, and scraps of white buckskin, fluttering in the wind. Of course this fence could be easily broken through, but the frightened animals always turned back from the fluttering rags, feathers, and other objects hanging from the long lines of cords.

A heard of buffalos or deer was carefully surrounded by the Indian hunters, and then gradually driven toward the opening of the drive, which was over half a mile wide. Once within these lines, the hunters drove the heard toward the bluff, waving their blankets as they rode forward. The terror stricken animals rushed toward the precipice, keeping away and turning back in fright from the lines of "fence," which gradually converged toward the cliff. At last, in a wild stampede, the frantic animals were driven over the edge of the precipice, where those who were not killed outright were dispatched by another party of hunters below. Only spears and arrows were used below the cliff, because the noise of firearms would frighten back the animals approaching the edge of the bluff. Among the mass of crumbling white bones beneath this Buffalo Bluff (as it is called here), where so many wild animals have been slaughtered, you can today occasionally find spear and arrow heads, beautifully formed of shining black obsidian, or volcanic glass, the material being formed in large quantities on the great plateau of the Yellowstone National Park.

*Reprinted from "The American Field," Feb. 11, 1893

118 W. Chinook St, Livignston, MT 59047

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