Happy Birthday Historic Preservation!

MPA Road Show To Celebrate 50 Years of the Historic Preservation Act 

The Congress finds and declares that (a) the spirit and direction of the Nation are founded upon and reflected in its historic heritage; (b) the historical and cultural foundations of the Nation should be preserved as a living part of our community life and development in order to give a sense of orientation to the American people…

On October 15, 1966, Lyndon Johnson signed into law the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) formally recognizing historic preservation as an important policy of the United States.

The Act laid down our nation’s basic tenets on why and how we preserve historic places and the sentiments in the preamble still ring true a half century later. Today, there are literally millions of examples of the impact of this legislation nationwide. The National Register of Historic Places includes more than 1.7 million resources in more than 89,000 listings, and The National Trust for Historic Preservation identifies an amazing 15 million active local preservationists and 50 million more individuals sympathetic to the cause of saving places that matter.

This is an enormous success story sparked by widespread destruction of historic buildings and sites in the years following World War II. The NHPA encourages Americans to identify and preserve our nation’s cultural and historic resources, and establishes a national preservation program and procedural protections.

  • The National Register of Historic Places, through which significant historic and cultural sites are identified and documented to facilitate their preservation
  • Federal preservation programs in each agency
  • State, tribal and local government historic preservation programs
  • The Section 106 Review Process, which requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic and cultural resources
  • The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to advise the President and Congress and to collaborate with other government entities on  historic preservation opportunities
  • The Historic Preservation Fund to provide grants to states, Certified Local Governments, and Indian tribes for projects relating to historic preservation
  • Public-private partnerships in support of common historic preservation goals

In Montana, we have28 National Historic Landmarks including Uptown Butte and Pompey’s Pillar, along with nearly 1,200 individual properties and more than 200 historic districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places, with 25 to 30 new listings every year.  Local residents and people from around the world visit, enjoy, and boost our economyat places like the Grand Union Hotel in Fort Benton, the Union Pacific Depot in West Yellowstone, Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, the Moss Mansion in Billings, Bannack State Park near Dillon, Paris Gibson Square in Great Falls, downtown Bozeman, Philipsburg and more. All these treasured places were documented, saved, and rehabilitated thanks to the National Historic Preservation Act.

MPA Road Show

This coming June, MPA will gather with many friends to celebrate  Preservation 50 and the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary during our Montana Preservation Road Show to be held in Red Lodge. Since 2012, our award-winning conference has blazed new pathways with the USDA Forest Service Region One, Bureau of Land Management, State Historic Preservation Office, Humanities Montana, local museums, and history lovers to offer a traveling preservation conference that transports participants to lesser known, rural historic sites, many of which have been saved through NHPA activities.

“By getting people into the field to experience history first hand, we all gain a wonderful appreciation and deeper understanding of the places in our past” says Christine Brown, Road Show Coordinator. “Along the way, veteran preservationists, local historians, archaeologists, professors, and tribal experts all join in to provide a well-rounded portrait of the historic places that define Montana and her people.”

This year’s Road Show pulls out all the stops to celebrate 50 years of historic preservation in Montana with a wide variety of tours and talks with national experts. MPA has even added a 4th day to the usual 3-day conference to accommodate more keynote speakers and all day tours. Tour highlights include:

  • Full-day and half-day tours exploring homesteading and ethnic heritage, Bearcreek and Smith Mine history, Custer National Forest history, prehistoric rock art and Native American history of the Pryor Mountains and the Second Crow Agency.
  • Beartooth Highway excursion on authentic Yellowstone Buses
  • Horse-drawn wagon and walking tours in Red Lodge
  • Heritage tourism and downtown revitalization workshop
  • Schoolhouse Preservation Workshop

Kimber Craine, Director of Program Initiatives, President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, Washington, D.C. will start the festivities on June 1 with a talk on the importance and impact of historic preservation over the last 50 years on cultural tourism. Dr. Carroll Van West, author of A Traveler’s Companion to Montana History will look back over 30 years of documenting Montana’s rural historic sites, with success stories and recommendations for the future. And, Barbara Pahl, Senior Vice President for Field Services, National Trust for Historic Preservation will give her insights on why the preservation movement is vital to our nation’s well-being and how stewardship of public lands and rural places is essential to protect the great legacy of America’s past. 

As Ms. Brown reflects, “There are simply remarkable places hidden in the rural corners of Montana.  And thanks to the efforts of thousands of dedicated people, they have been preserved. The Road Show is a great way to celebrate all we have done in Montana to ensure that these places will be here for decades, and centuries, to come.”

To receive Road Show updates and registration information, please email Christine@preservemontana.org