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2022 Summer Newsletter

Shakespeare in the Park 50th Anniversary: King Lear

Shakespeare in the Park: King Lear
Shakespeare in the Park: King Lear

The Old Montana Prison welcomes Montana Shakespeare in the Parks Friday, July 29th at 6:00 PM on the grass in the Prison Yard. Celebrating its 50th year, the free performance of Shakespeare's iconic tragedy "King Lear" introduces Lear, the aging monarch of Britain, as he strives to divide his kingdom among his three daughters. Bring your favorite lawn chair, blanket, a picnic dinner and snacks if you wish and enjoy an evening of Shakespeare! Upright chairs will be available as well. For more information or question, don't hesitate to contact us at (406) 846-3111. Please join us!


Volunteers are the Essence of our Museum Family!

Volunteer's Working on the New Museum Sign
Volunteer's Working on the New Museum Sign

A shout out to our wonderful volunteers. We thank them for all their help contributing their time, talents and treasure, toward making a visit to the Museum Campus a special experience. Lorrie Duncan and Craig Woodward remove the Visitor Center sign in preperations to put up a fresh new sign. The 1908 Milwaukee Road "Golden Spike" was recently freshened up and a new interactive "Trapping in Montana" exhibit are other examples of our volunteers' recent dedication. Volunteers to assist with Campus Tour and Ghost Hunts are always welcome. Contact Curator Sanchez or Events Coordinator Garcia at (406) 846-3111 for more information.



By PCM&AF Board Member Martin Drivdahl

I wonder how many folks around Montana or elsewhere have heard of Hunter’s Hot Springs, know where it was, or have knowledge of its interesting history. This vintage resort town was a small colorful piece of Montana history along the Yellowstone Trail, North America’s first transcontinental highway linking Plymouth Rock to Puget Sound.

Just as Deer Lodge was a stopping place along the Yellowstone Trail, so also was Hunter’s Hot Springs Resort. Located on the north side of the Yellowstone River about 14 miles west of Big Timber and 20 miles east of Livingston, it was accessible by auto travel along the Trail. The Northern Pacific Railroad had a depot at Springdale on the south side of the river and a bridge from that location provided another means to reach the Resort.

In its heyday, the place was a grand vacation destination, boasting a luxury hotel, the Dakota, built in 1909. The architecture was of Moorish design, described by one reporter as … “without a doubt the most complete hostelry west of St. Paul”. The hotel had a frontal dimension of 454 feet and a depth varying from 100 to 250 feet. Under its roof was an indoor swimming pool 50 by 100 feet with forty dressing rooms on either side. The design featured 100 hotel rooms heated by hot water, an ornately decorated dining room, and a semi-circular glass solarium 50 feet across at the east end. The Resort was a popular going concern with

Hunter's Hot Springs
Hunter's Hot Springs

prestigious visitors during its early years. In August 1914, a caravan of 250 automobiles left Minneapolis on a “Sociability Run” to Montana. Folks of wealth and influence from cities along the way joined the trip to the Resort to attend a conference of the Yellowstone Trail Association. The Resort survived the Association Convention, endured the roaring 20’s and Prohibition, but in 1932 the entire structure burned to the ground.

Three men were closely involved in the development of the Hot Springs Resort. Dr. Andrew Jackson Hunter was the first, staking a squatter’s claim to the area in the summer of 1864. Six years later he built a pool and erected a cluster of log cabins. His wife and children lived at the location during the late 1860’s and 1870’s while hostile Piegan Indians were still a threat. During that time Dr. Hunter served as the medical official at the first Crow agency located on the south side of the Yellowstone (Fort Parker). Cyrus B. Mendenhall purchased the 160-acre site including 12 log cabins in 1885. He further developed the mineral hot springs, building the first frame hotel with 40 rooms. James A. Murray, millionaire banker from Butte was the entrepreneur on the scene, purchasing the property in 1896. He really upgraded the location, building the swanky Hotel Dakota. In the years following the 1932 fire, a very minimal structure was built over the pool and the Hot Springs remained open for swimming through the 1950’s and early 1960’s.

Today there is little evidence that the Resort ever existed. One can still make a nice auto tour by leaving Interstate 90 at Springdale, crossing the Yellowstone River at that point. You will travel on county road that was once the Yellowstone Trail. Proceeding west along the north side of the river, the visitor travels on a convict-grade road largely improved by Montana State Prison inmates under the Prison’s first Warden, Frank Conley. This road eventually passes the site of the former resort; now just scattered stones and fences left of what had been a showplace for the Valley. From that point, one can jump back to I-90 or continue to travel north along the Shields River.


Auto Museum Addition Update!

We are super excited to announce progress on the new Auto Museum addition. The building is closed in with all operating systems complete and interior finishes nearly done. The expansion allows for better display of our existing collection and presentation of at least 20 antique and custom vehicles never before displayed. Stay tuned to our social media feeds for more details on the Grand Opening.

We are expanding our south parking lot to accommodate more parking spaces, and to better serve our RV guests. We hope that You have enjoyed your visits to the Museum Complex and look forward to seeing you again.



August 18th at 1:00 PM in the Gunport Theater

Our history is Montana's history. We will offer our guests the opportunity to participate in a roundtable speak with and learn from our "Living Treasures" , the mend and women who served and worked inside these Prison walls. Participants will include several Deputy Wardens, former Correctional Officers and Staff and the families that supported them as they did their public service. Admission is free for PCM&AF Members and the minimum cost of an admission ticket for the general public.


New donation items to the Museum from Robert and Annette Evans of Bozeman, MT. These items will go on display in the Portatz Evans Mining Collection in Powell County Museum. Thank you for your generous donations!




Available in store now, pick up your copy for $28.00




1 Ticket for $5.00

5 Tickets for $20.00

15 Tickets for $50.00

40 Tickets for $100.00




Check out our Ghost Tour & Lock Down dates on our website

Click on the "Ghost Tours" tab


Introducing new changes at PCM&AF.

With our core team we will continually strive to work alongside our coworkers and the community. We are full of ideas and we would like to hear from you. Our community is the breath, and our history is the heart.

Curator - Melanie Sanchez

Office Manager - Addison Gerstein

Events Coordinator - Lisa Garcia

Giftshop Manager - Kathy Christianson

Powell County Museum & Arts Foundation is a local, non-profit membership organization in Deer Lodge which operates the Old Montana Prison as a museum. PCMAF also oversees and operates the Montana Auto Museum, Frontier Museum, Yesterday's Playthings, Cottonwood City, Powell County Museum and the PEN Convention Center and Art Gallery as part of the Old Prison Complex.

The Old Prison Complex brings approximately 40,000 visitors to the region annually to experience the 19th century prison fortress and learn about the 150 plus years of Montana correctional history. Visitors also have the opportunity to view changing art exhibits and remarkable collections of antique autos, firearms, dolls, toys, historic clothing, furniture, household items and numerous other artifacts related to regional history.


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