The museum’s self-appointed mission is to collect, preserve, and exhibit the history and culture of the region, and it is thus home to a collection of artifacts and exhibits related to archaeological and geological aspects of life in Sweet Grass County.
The displays feature material related to Native Indians, Pioneers and Homesteaders, agriculture and ranching, the area’s sheep and wool industries, the Norwegian influence in the area, rodeo, and much more.
The Crazy Mountain Museum is located just south of the I-90 (exit 367), heading east at the western interchange of the I-90 onto Frontage Road where the museum is located.
The facility typically opens between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Monday through Saturday from 10 am-4.30 pm and 1.00 pm to 4.30 pm on Sundays.
History of the Crazy Mountain Museum
The Sweet Grass Museum Society has worked hard to maintain the history of Sweet Grass County since the early 1900s.
However, it wasn’t until 1992 that the Society found a proper, new, and permanent home for the various collections of historical items they had amassed since the turn of the 20th century. Funds were raised locally to complete the building of the Crazy Mountain Museum.
The museum today features a large area for research and study including a master index of over 5,000 documents and images, and exhibits.
This index took 10 years to complete from the time the new museum building came into being and relied mainly on the efforts of volunteers who studied newspapers and other information dating all the way back to the late 1800s.
Points of Interest in the Museum
The exhibits are offered on a rotational basis and change often—usually on an annual basis—but here are some of the commonly featured themes within the facility:
The ‘Cobblestone City’ is a diorama featuring a miniature version of the town of Big Timber as it would have been in 1907.
This is a 12-feet long and six feet wide display, constructed according to a scale of 1/16” to a 1’. Big Timber actually suffered a fire in 1908 that the majority of the downtown region, and this recreation of this town shows how it looked prior to that.
The exhibit has an accompanying news article showing the effects of the fire that reportedly destroyed one-third of the town a year later.
The ‘Sheep and Wool’ exhibit is related to the history and development of sheep ranching in Sweet Grass County, which was actually one of the biggest producers of wool at one point.
The ‘Norwegian Stabbur’ is a display related to the huge impact the Norwegians who migrated into Sweet Grass County had. This is one of the museum’s separate buildings and it features various original Norwegian artifacts from the time.
Other features of the museum include a one-room former school house and a few displays related to Rodeos both from the past as well as more recently.
On top of that, there is a Pioneer Memorial Gallery which features photographs, artifacts, and historical family information related to those who had arrived in the county by around 1895.
The facility includes an archives room in its research department which helps to provide information for anyone wanting to do research on the county’s history in depth.
One of the center points of the museum is its ‘Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden’ which has an impressive selection of plants native to this region of Montana.
It was established in line with the state’s commemorative events and celebrations that occurred back in 2006. The plants included in the garden were ones that Clark documented in his many journals of 1806 and also collected when the expedition came through this area.
There are interpretive signs explaining this and a few other notable facts related to the expedition. The garden was the creation of the Rivers across Lewis & Clark Sweet Grass County Bicentennial group, and some of the plants were donated from some of the existing old homesteads in the area.
You can also check out a collection of artwork and paintings from local artist Jack Hines, who painted a series of seven pictures of different places in Sweet Grass County called ‘Historic Crossroads’.
The paintings highlight the changes in the region from the Ice Age, the Native Indians, Lewis and Clark, fur traders, the Bozeman Trail, mining, and homesteading.
The collection even includes a painted map indicating where each of the different scenarios in his paintings would have taken place.
Crazy Mountain Museum – Final Thoughts
The people of Montana are proud of their roots, history, and development, which is one of the main reasons that places like the Crazy Mountain Museum exist.
Anyone visiting the museum gets to see the true nature of the region’s development through its collected and curated documented evidence and exhibits.
This museum is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting the south-central Montana regions, and especially anyone with a keen sense of history.