The Frontier Gateway Museum is located just to the east of Glendive in Montana. The town sits atop the late-Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation where significant paleontological discoveries have occurred over the years, including a complete Triceratops skull and an almost complete skeleton of the rare Thescelosaur.
Not surprisingly the Frontier Gateway Museum features plenty of dinosaur-related exhibits, and the facility is also included as one of the stops along the Montana Dinosaur Trail—in fact, it functions as the ‘gateway’ to the trail.
One of the museum’s most remarkable displays is a full-size skeleton cast of a Struthiomimus which was unearthed near Glendive in the 1990s. Aside from that, the museum is also home to various collections of artifacts and memorabilia related to early Montana pioneers.
Like many Montana museums, the Frontier Gateway contains many items that stand as a testament to Montana’s earliest homesteaders.
The facility is the official county museum and is big on research and education, with a mission to collect and exhibit as much information related to Dawson County’s historical aspects as possible.
You can find the museum on the Belle Prairie Frontage Road, just off I-94 (Exit 215), around a mile or so east of downtown Glendive.
Main Attractions in the Frontier Gateway Museum
Aside from the main dinosaur displays in the museum, some of the other fossils featured in the museum include those of a Stegoceras, a Triceratops, a Thescelosaurus, and a hadrosaurus, as well as aquatic and plant fossil exhibits.
There are two homestead-era country stores, a blacksmith’s pound, a fire hall, an original log cabin, the town’s original school which has undergone much restoration, and a large collection and display of old farm machinery and equipment.
Some of the museum’s special displays include an authentic medieval armor set, and the exterior walls of the facility’s main building contain murals depicting historical events that took place in and around Glendive related to Native Indians, homesteaders, and a nearby military post known as Camp Canby.
The Main Floor of the museum features items such as displays of period dresses, military uniforms, and armor, a piano from the late 19th century, and various other musical displays, as well as other artifacts related to everyday activities like sewing.
The facility contains a vast collection of historical items and interpretive displays that chronicle both the human and the natural elements of Eastern Montana heritage. From paleontological exhibits to Native Peoples and up to the mid-20th century, Glendive and Dawson County history is cataloged from the days when the area was not much more than a rugged frontier outpost.
The Historic Windmill
Outside the museum is the historic windmill, which serves as a kind of sign for the Frontier Gateway Museum. The windmill came from a local ranch with community ties going back to the turn of the 20th century.
They kindly donated the windmill to the museum in the 1960s after Glendive suffered wind damage to various structures and equipment in the area.
The windmill was also damaged and underwent the necessary repairs funded by the museum, which luckily managed to find a specialist to undertake the necessary restorative work.
Admission to the Frontier Gateway Museum is free, and although the upper level of the museum and the museum grounds are handicap accessible, the basement level of the museum is not.
The museum opens seasonally from Memorial Day to Labor Day between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm. Walk-ins are welcome as are reservations for tours etc.
As the museum is the first official stop on the Montana Dinosaur Trail, anyone signing up to participate on the trail can collect their Dinosaur Trail Passports and other related items for the trail from this facility.
The Next nearest Dinosaur Trail Museums to the Frontier Gateway
If you do decide to follow the trail from the Frontier Gateway Museum, the next nearest stop-off heading in a northern direction would be the Makoshika State Park.
This is still in Glendive, slightly southeast of the downtown region on Snyder Avenue, and is easy to find by following the State Park/Dinosaur Track signs.
If you decide to first head southward from the Frontier Gateway Museum you’ll find the next stop along the trail to be the Carter County Museum in Ekalaka, which is actually over 100 miles from this spot and will likely take you at least a couple of hours to get there.
Head along the I-94 east from Glendive to Wibaux, then get onto Highway 7 heading south from Wibaux to Ekalaka.
If you find yourself heading in a western direction you will come to Garfield County Museum in Jordan, which is just slightly further than the Carter County option—but only just at 115 miles.
You can get here heading the first northwest along Highway 200 from Glendive to Circle, then jumping onto Highway 200 west from Circle to Jordan.
Montana is a hotbed of history as it is, but when you add to that the dinosaur angle you’ll find there are more levels to this than you might have previously imagined.
Glendive and Dawson County—like pretty much every town, city, and county in the state—take great pride in the heritage of the region and have gone to great lengths to amass a wealth of knowledge and artifacts. I
f you are interested in dinosaurs and fossils or are just fascinated by the general history of the region you won’t be disappointed with what this free-entry facility has to offer.