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Folks near St. Ignatius relive the fur trade times

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: May 05 2013 08:52:30 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

This weekend in St. Ignatius folks took a step back in time to the days of the early fur trade.

Atlatl throwing, wool spinning and knife throwing are just a few of the 'old time' activities the Fort Connah Restoration Society set it up for folks to try.

The historic site near St. Ignatius boasts one of the oldest fur trading posts in the nation built in the 1840's and this weekend many folks ventured inside to check out historical fire arms and native artifacts.

Society members tell us it's been hard work preserving the historic site and buildings.

Preston Miller has spent over 40 years making sure no one forgets how important the 166-year-old trading post is.

“We have put it all back together and restored it to the point where I can actually set up an old time trading post inside of it, just like in the old days,” said Miller. 

Miller tells NBC Montana the fort was a crossing point for goods to be gathered and distributed over the mountains to the east and west. 

“Buffalo robes and stuff would be coming from the west and being shipped to the east,” said Miller. 

Miller tells me he's proud of the restoration work he and other Fort Connah Society members have done.

“It's really important that here in Western Montana we have this,” said Miller.  “And not only the site but one of the original buildings that were part of that early trade era.”

Society member Edd MacDonald tells me most visitors say they've never tried the "old life" experience.

“It's not thinking about it, it's not looking at it in a book or in any other way, we're actually living it and there's no replacement for that,” said MacDonald.  “To put hands on, to see things and to handle things and to do things that our ancestors did, we don't get to do very much.”

Miller says it's been hard work preserving the historic site and building but it's worth the effort.

“It's kind of sad that as the older people die off there aren't going to be younger people in here to step up and take this over,” said Miller.  “So I hope by doing this we can get young people interested and get them to come out and realize there is more to life than the computer.”

If you missed this historical event, not to fear, the society will be hosting another in August.

For more information about Fort Connah or the Fort Connah Restoration Society click here.