PRESERVATION HISTORY IN CARBON COUNTY
In the early 1980’s the residents of Carbon County, members of the Red Lodge Chamber of Commerce, and the Carbon County Historical Society (CCHS) determined that the county contained historical and archaeological sites that were important to understand the heritage of Carbon County. In an effort to organize, identify, protect and enhance these properties, a committee of volunteers formed in 1984 and applied to the Carbon County Commissioners to establish a Carbon County Historic Preservation Commission and to hire a Historic Preservation Officer for Carbon County. Funding from an annual CLG (Certified Local Government) grant, combined with additional funding from the CCHS covers the salary of the part-time Historic Preservation Officer.
CARBON COUNTY HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION
In order to promote the preservation of historic and prehistoric sites, structures, objects, buildings and districts through the identification, evaluation, and protection of historic resources throughout Carbon County, Montana the Carbon County Historic Preservation Commission was formed through a resolution in 1986. The commission consists of eight (8) residents of Carbon County, and, to the extent possible, consists of the following mix: three (3) members to be appointed by the Carbon County Commissioners with backgrounds or professional expertise in history, archaeology, architecture or other historic preservation related disciplines. One (1) member shall be appointed to the commission by the governing body of each incorporated city or town in Carbon County, Montana, (Bearcreek, Joliet, Bridger, Red Lodge, Fromberg). This commission meets quarterly, in rotating locations throughout the county, all meeting are publicized two weeks in advance and are open to the public. The CCHPC is actively involved in city and county reviews, procuring funding for National Register nominations and sponsors the annual Carbon County Historic Preservation Awardwhich takes place each year at the Carbon County Historical Society & Museum's annual fundraiser gala each October.
Current Members of Carbon County Historic Preservation Commission:
Samantha Long, Carbon County Historic Preservation Officer
Judy Steffan, Chairperson, Bridger Representative
Everett Edwards, Carbon County Representative
Marvin Keller, Carbon County Representative
Liz Westhaeffer, Bearcreek
Mike Majerus, Red Lodge Representative
Annette Anderson, Fromberg Representative
Nellie Israel, Joliet Representative
THE IMPORTANCE OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION
Historic preservation is sound social, economic and environmental policy. Socially these buildings, structures, historic districts, landscapes, archaeological sites, and places of cultural significance are irreplaceable links to the past. These resources create a unique sense of place; contribute to our quality of life; tell the stories of our collective past – the successes, difficulties and hard work of the people who were here before us; add to the character of a neighborhood and reflect an image of quality and stability. Economically, historic preservation creates jobs during renovation, attracts businesses to the area; attracts tourism, with heritage tourism being the fastest growing tourism segment. The “green building” movement is coming to learn that earlier construction was environmentally friendly because local, native materials were used, designs took advantage of local conditions and buildings were energy efficient. Restoring an old structure conserves building materials, requires less energy, better utilizes existing public services such as water, sewer, and transportation infrastructure and reduces the demand for conversion of open space to residential and commercial construction.
PRESERVATION ACTIVITIES IN CARBON COUNTY
The Preservation Commission’s philosophy is to seek out, record, study, and interpret historical sites in an effort to raise the public level of historical awareness and appreciation. The preservation office has conducted historical inventories on many structures and sites within the county’s towns as well as the rural area. In 2008 the red Lodge Brewery/Cannery and the Kero Farmstead were successfully listed to the National Register of Historic Places. The funding for these projects was made possible through a grant awarded by Preserve America, a program of the National Park Service. The grant also enabled the Carbon County Historical Society & Museum to develop, print and distribute a Historic Walking/Driving Tour map of Red Lodge and Carbon County, Montana. In 2009 a grant from the Montana Coal Board made possible a nomination of the Smith Mine Complex, located in Bearcreek, MT, to the National Register. Listing information on the Smith Mine Complex should be available by the end of September 2009. Sites currently being considered for listing to the National Register include: The Red Lodge Cemetery and the Bearcreek Cemetery.
To become involved in preservation activities and issues in Carbon County, Montana please contact us.