Walk Through History
Our history is so much more than dusty relics on a shelf. History itself is a story. A story filled with emotion, lessons, and often the haunting reminders of what has been. The Big Horn County Historical Museum opened in 1979 on a 22-acre vegetable farm located 44 miles east of Billings off I-90 (exit 497), just outside of Hardin, and only 15 miles from the famous Little Big Horn Battlefield. In 2012 the museum grounds expanded to 35 acres and is currently the beautiful home to 24 historic structures that have been rescued from destruction and meticulously preserved. Each building is brimming with exhibits that represent bygone eras and will give you not just a glimpse, but a full view of life before our time. Walk through the historic LaForge Cabin, barn, and blacksmith shop and smell the hand-cut logs neatly chinked into place. Experience a true Crow tepee which the Crow referred to as “second mother.” They believed, “a tepee is your second mother. Your first mother is the Earth, upon which the tepee rests.” Or take a seat in a 1915 Doctor’s office and imagine the number of people that received life-saving care in its 72 years of service. Each building is brought to life through the collection of photographs and artifacts lovingly housed inside. Alongside these culture-rich buildings are exhibits constructed to house horse-drawn equipment, an extensive collection of tractors, farm equipment, and classic automobiles.
Inside our beautiful new facility, our gallery exhibits share the history of Fort Custer on the Big Horn, constructed during the Indian Wars and named for General George Armstrong Custer who died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The rich culture of the Plains Indians is colorfully represented along with artifacts from missionaries on the reservations. Famous cowboy writer Will James, whose namesake graces many monuments including a Middle School in the area, brings the American West to life with not only exhibits inside the museum but his studio, cabins, and a native plant area which call our grounds home. No matter the history that tickles your fancy, be it Cowboys or Plains Indians, The Big Horn County Historical Museum and Visitors Center will not disappoint.
The museum has become a strong focal point in the community for gathering and educational experiences and is available for special programs, educational and private tours, as well as special events such as family reunions and weddings. We continue to develop and add priceless artifacts and learning opportunities to our grounds. Our guests will see our continued restoration and preservation efforts as they tour the boardwalk and museum grounds. This continued development is a testimony to the commitment and the strength of the partnership of private and public efforts to preserve the heritage of our area.
No matter whether you roam our gallery, gift shop, research library, archives, visitor center, or offices, you will encounter a staff member or local resident that is passionate about sharing the gifts history has to offer.
We invite you to not only be our guest but to be a part of history!