Fort Missoula was established in 1877 by two companies of the 7th U.S. Infantry at the request of citizens who were concerned about hostile Indian tribes. The troops participated in the Battle of Big Hole against the Nez Perce Indians led by Chief Joseph and Looking Glass. The Fort was later home to the 24th and 25th Black Infantry Regiments in the 1880s and 1890s. It was continuously garrisoned up until the Spanish-American War when, in 1898, the 25th U.S. Infantry was sent to Cuba. The 25th did not return to Fort Missoula and the post was only sporadically garrisoned until World War I.
The post was remodeled and updated between 1908 and 1914. The remaining officers quarters, enlisted barracks and the hospital reflect that period of construction.
During World War II, Fort Missoula served as an Alien Detention Center for Italian detainees and Japanese-American citizens. Immediately after the war the post was used to confine U.S. Military personnel awaiting charges or courts martial for military crimes. The post was decommissioned in 1947 but it continued as a base for Army National Guard, Naval Reserve units, other government agencies and civilian organizations. Many of the temporary buildings were sold and removed.
Fort Missoula is now home to the Lolo National Forest headquarters, Bureau of Land Management's regional headquarters, the National Guard, and numerous nonprofit organizations, including the National Forest Foundation. In April 2000, the Northern Rockies Heritage Center received title to much of the property, now designated as the Fort Missoula Historic District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The grounds include thirteen historic buildings from the rebuilt fort, three buildings from the original fort, a small military cemetery, and a parade ground. The rebuilt buildings include the Headquarters, the Post Exchange, a Quartermaster Storehouse, the Hospital, two Barracks and seven Officer's Quarters, all now repurposed. The Quartermaster Storehouse building now contains the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula. The original fort buildings include a Carriage House (1880), a stone powder magazine (1878) and restored NCO quarters (1878).
Visited: 17 May 2010
Fort Missoula Picture Gallery