DILLON - A new exhibit at the Beaverhead County Museum features rare artifacts from southwest Montana.
The permanent exhibit — Indigenous Peoples of Southwestern Montana — displays the archaeological history left behind by Montana’s first settlers.
"All of us came from people who used stone tools to get along and survive and so we’re all related to this," said Ron Loge.
The museum’s board of trustees approached Loge, a volunteer at the museum, to look at the artifacts kept in the basement to find if any of the items could be displayed. Loge says he came across a rich trove of historical finds and spent two years putting the exhibit together.
"It’s been an exciting project to get all of this to come together and tell the story of the people who lived here a long, long, time ago," said Loge.
From 60,000-year-old mammoth bones to a 13,000-year-old spear point that the first settlers used to hunt mammoths, the artifacts give a glimpse into the life of Montana’s earliest settlers.
On display are mammoth bones found in Dillon in 1906, arrowheads arranged in a timeline to track the way the first settlers adapted to the end of the Ice age and faithfully recreated items by local experts.
Loge spent two months restoring a mammoth tusk found in the garage of a woman living in Idaho. It was falling apart when he came across it and he worked on it millimeter by millimeter to preserve and restore it.
"Just standing here looking at this and imagining the massive size of a mammoth armed with only an atlatl or a spear to get your dinner tonight—it's an awesome experience," said Loge.
The exhibit's grand opening was held on June 24.