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Welcome to the Big Horn County Historical Museum, located 15 miles from the famous Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Big Horn County Historical Museum was established in 1979 and has been enchanting visitors ever since. The museum complex consists of twenty four historic structures, two farm exhibit buildings and a main exhibit building which features a rotating exhibit, visitor center and gift shop.

This 22-acre site was donated to the Big Horn Historical Society for a museum. The farmhouse and barn are part of the original farm site. The other historic buildings have been moved to the museum from various locations in Big Horn County.

The Lincoln Land Company, the development arm of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, purchased Crow Reservation allotments and platted the Hardin townsite on a sage brush flat in 1907. Surveyor Carl Rankin—who later served two terms as the town’s mayor—sold the first lots in May. Buyers immediately ordered construction materials, and within a week, building began. The town took its name from Wyoming cattleman Samuel H. Hardin, who was a friend of the land company’s president. By fall the streets had been graded and the town took shape. Rankin named the streets, choosing numbers and words that began with the letter “C,” like Custer and Crow. He built his own residence on North Crow in this residential district—the second home in Hardin. Others followed suit, including livery owner W. E. Reno and bank founder E. A. Howell. Because there were no trees in sight, boosters billed the neighborhood as “cozy” with “plenty of space on every side to let in the air and sunlight.” The town incorporated in 1911. Dubbed “the City with a Reason” for its agricultural ties and hydroelectric potential, Hardin catered to local farms, including the Campbell Farming Corporation’s huge 95,000-acre wheat operation. Hardin’s residential district includes a church, library, and neighborhood grocery. The district’s importance, however, lies in the small-town rural architecture characteristic of the homestead boom. The well-preserved vernacular cottages and post-1910 Craftsman style bungalows visually reflect the shift from simple dwellings to defined architectural styles. This trend, common throughout the 1910s in the American West, is rarely so evident.

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hardin, montana, usa, history

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