A Narrative History of the Montana Heritage Project

100-Year History of the Community

Mary Sullivan

Bigfork High School


The Bigfork Chamber of Commerce asked the high school to host a celebration commemorating Bigfork’s centennial. As the centerpiece of this community celebration, students created a multimedia one hundred year history of the community. They combined archival and oral interview research. Their quest for turn of the century photographs and information led them to trunks in their grandparents’ attics as well as to the K. Ross Toole Archives at the Mansfield Library at the University of Montana. They presented their findings at Bigfork: One Hundred Years By the Bay, a program attended by about 350 community members in the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts. The program included PowerPoint presentations giving an illustrated 100 year history of the Bigfork community, illustrated with historical photographs and featuring interviews with community elders, a few of whom were born around the turn of the century.

Along the way, the audience learned about tugboats towing logs from Bigfork Bay to Somers, about major community events such as a fire that destroyed the town, about travel in Model T automobiles, about the histories of buildings, about cutting ice for iceboxes on Flathead Lake, about churches in the past, and about the establishment and growth of local businesses.

A fashion show presented casual, business, tennis and formal fashions from 1901, 1951, and 2001. The show was choreographed to music with a narrator interpreting the history of fashion through the century. Then the audience moved across the street to a gallery where refreshments were served at an extensive show of historical photographs of Bigfork.

To print a final report for the year-end binder, click here.
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2001 Montana Heritage Project
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