Shay Locomotive

Shay locomotive, serial number 1643, fondly known as “Ole Four Spot”, is on display in front of the Heritage Museum, next to US Highway 2, and is one of our most prized exhibits. She served as a workhorse for the Libby Lumber Co and later the J. Neils Lumber Co. for logging operations in and around Libby, Montana in the early 1900s.
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Explore the Past

Last season the Museum opened a new exhibit on the history of the W.R. Grace vermiculite mine and subsequent asbestos contamination. Clips of video taped interviews, containing personal perspectives of a variety of people sharing their experiences, can be selected for viewing on touch-screen computers. Some of these people worked for W.R. Grace; some have asbestos-related disease or had family members who were affected. Others are the physicians who diagnosed and treated the illness. Still others just live and work here and have their own viewpoint. This exhibit was made possible through grants from Humanities Montana, the Center for Asbestos Related Disease, the Lincoln County Community Foundation, and private donations.

Sylvanite Cookhouse

The Sylvanite Cookhouse was used...  and now serves as one of our community gathering places and kitchen for functions. No caulks please!

Forest Service displays

The Kootenai National Forest is managed under multiple-use for timber production, recreation, and wildlife habitat. It has over a 100-year history. We have displays on the logging industry, area forest fire lookouts, early communication, and much more.

Libby Volunteer Fire

Department

The Libby Volunteer Fire Department  was formed in 1911. The exhibit  contains a photo display of various  fires fought by the Libby Volunteer  Fire Department, an original LVFD  bucket brigade fire wagon, a roster of  fire fighters by year, and a memorial  dedicated to fireman Cory Clawson-a  firefighter killed in the line of duty.  Additional exhibit items include a  display case with toys, medals,  helmets and other fire department  related items.
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Cherry Creek Custom

Mill

Mining equipment exhibit on the  outside Museum grounds.
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Steamboats on the

Kootenai

Steamboats transported goods and  passengers on the upper Kootenai  River from the late 1800s to early  1900s. These included the North Star,  Fool Hen, J.D. Farrell, Rustler, Libby,  Annerly, Gwendoline, Ruth and others.  By the turn of the century, raillines  took over as the main means of  transportation services.

Libby CCC

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) 

was a public work relief program for 

unemployed, unmarried young men  as 

part of the New Deal. which operated 

during the Depression in the United 

States between 1933 to 1942. The 

program provided work, shelter, 

clothing, food. The bulk of the small 

wage had to be sent home to their 

families. Workers built new roads, 

buildings, planted trees, fought forest 

firest, improved public parks and 

more. 

Early Laundry

The Heritage Museum has an  impressive display of early washing  machines and laundry implements to  show how the chore of doing the wash  was done before electricity.

Libby Miner Newspaper

Libby’s first newspaper, The Libby  Miner, began in 1892. The Museum  display includes presses, typesetting  equipment, copies of early  newspapers and more.

Kootenai Indians

Early Native Americans who lived in  the area before the coming of  European and white people were  mostly members of the Kootenai Tribe  who inhabited northwest Montana,  northern Idaho and into Canada. The  Kootenai River was a major travel  corridor and source for food and  water.

Early Mining

Early prospectors came to the Libby  area beginning in the mid-1800s and  ran placer operations and mines for  silver, lead and gold. The Heritage  Museum has an extensive collection of  large mining equipment on display on  the Museum grounds.

Early Logging

The first saw mill was built by the  first townsite company in the winter  of 1891-1892 near the present day  bridge across the Kootenai River and  was used to supply lumber to build the  growing town. Other sawmills were  built in the late 1800s and early  1900s, with most lumber used locally.

Early Railroad

The Northern Pacific Railroad was the  determining factor of the location of  the townsite for present-day Libby. In  1890, the railroad made the  preliminary surveys for its path and  negotiations for rights-of-way were  made, relocating the town from its  location near mining camps closer to  the Kootenai River. The first train,  hauling passengers and freight,  arrived in Libby on May 3, 1892.

Snowshoe Mine

The Snowshoe lode was discovered in  October, 1889 producing rich deposits  of lead, silver and gold up Leigh Creek  near Libby. The Snowshoe was the  most important lode producer in the  Libby area, reporting production every  year from 1905-1912. Underground  workings included two shafts (475 and  550 feet deep) and 11,000 feet of  tunnels, drifts, and connecting raises.  The Museum has a full-scale display of  the entrance to the Snowshoe Mine on  the Museum grounds.

Early Libby

The Museum has many displays and  interpretive signs about life in early  Libby.

Wildlife

Wildlife taxidermy displays include  raptors, large mammals, small animals  and fish that live in the northwest  Montana area.

Early Photography

Museum displays include many early  photographs of the area as well as  photography equipment.

Early Explorers

Early explorers came to the northwest  area in the early 1800s. They taveled  into the Kootenai River area and used  the Kootenai as a navigational guide  through the area following Native  American Indian and game trails

Early Fur Trade

David Thompson, a Canadian explorer  and employee of the Northwest  Company. The first white men to come  to the area were fur traders and  trappers in search of beaver pelts and  other furs. There were several forts,  or posts, built by early traders along  the Kootenai River which were small  log huts or tents, which served the  general trading purpose.

Buttons through the

Ages

The Museum has a wonderful display  of early buttons.

Winter Fun

Outdoor recrecreation is an important  part of life in the northwest Montana  area. We have displays of old skis and  other outdoor equipment used in days  gone by.

Huckleberries

A native plant of the area,  huckleberries are enjoyed by people  and wildlife. See our collection of  huckleberry collecting implements.

Libby Dam

Libby Dam is located 17 miles  upstream from Libby on the Kootenai  River. The dam is 422-foot tall and  holds back 90 miles of water in Lake  Koocanusa. Forty-eight miles of the  reservoir lie within U.S. borders, the  other 42 miles are in Canada.
Exhibits                                                          
Shay Locomotive Libby Volunteer Fire Department
The Heritage Museum is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization - all donations are tax deductible; 34067 US Hwy 2, PO Box 628, Libby, MT 59923, 406-293-7521, Website: Libbyheritagemuseum.org, E-mail: heritagemuseum@frontier.com