We celebrated Independence Day in Polson, Montana, a small town on the southern shore of Flathead Lake. The city was named after pioneer rancher David Polson, and currently has a population of around 4,800.

We love small towns, and their Fourth of July celebration was so much fun.  Here are highlights from the town parade.

Polson Flathead Historical Museum

After the parade, we visited the historical museum to learn more about Polson.  Local museums always interest us.

Desk used in the State Senate by the local senators from 1925-1965.

Saddle used by Calamity Jane

One of the treats was meeting Mrs. Scott, one of the museum benefactors who happened to be there. She had donated a number of items to the museum, including this beautiful carriage and huge Highland Bull named Rudolf.

It was so much fun listening to her stories about her husband and the various items she had donated to the museum.

The museum collection included a number of interesting items, including the city’s oldest jail and historic fire engines and equipment.

As always, there are more photos in the gallery.

Kerr Dam

Built in 1938, the Kerr Dam raises the level and increases the size of Flathead Lake while providing hydroelectricity to the city of Polson. Since the dam is located on tribal lands, it has been run by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes who officially purchased the dam in 2015 and renamed it the Seli’š Ksanka Qlispe’ Dam.

We walked the 350 steps down to the observation deck.  Great views of the dam, Flathead Lake and the river!

National Bison Range

We drove to the nearby town of Charlo, Montana to visit the National Bison Range Wildlife Refuge. The park consists of several drives through the meadows and hillsides where you can get an up close view of the bison heard. There are 350 bison, plus other wildlife in the refuge.

One of the highlights for us was coming across a black bear. He had been standing in the road as we approached and then scampered up into the brush.

The views from the drive were beautiful too. It was a great stop on our journey.

Miracle of America Museum

Our final stop in the area was at the Miracle of America Museum. Founded by Gil & Joanne Mangels in 1981, the museum is a vast, eclectic collection of artifacts and memorabilia scattered throughout the property and dozens of buildings.

Cathy & Jan with Gil Mangels, founder of the museum

We thoroughly enjoyed wandering through the collection, and talking with Gil about how he acquired so much history.

Here are a few highlights. Check out the gallery for more photos.


With that, we said goodbye to Jan and Carl as they head back to California and we continue on our journey. Next stop is a brief stay in Missoula on our way back to Wyoming and the Grand Teton National Park.