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Libby’s Heritage Museum holds opening day festivities

| May 16, 2024 12:00 AM

The Heritage Museum in Libby holds its opening day celebration on May 18. 

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and includes presentations and demonstrations throughout the day.

At 10:15 p.m., historic dress and textile expert M. Lynn Barnes will present her latest research project, “Bridal Belle of Libby? How the Erhard Family Brought French Fashions to Libby, Montana.”

Fashion has always been a statement of social status coupled with individuality and special events. In the historic dress collection housed at the museum, there are multiple “statements” of fashion. One of the treasures is a gown from the Erhard family collection that exemplifies the French fashion silhouette of the turn of the last century. This gown, a gift of Nancy Erhard, is the subject of Barnes’ presentation. The talk will explain how French fashion is expressed with laces, silhouettes and fabric, and how those fashions traveled to Libby. 

Author Jeff Gruber at 11:15 a.m., will present a preview of his upcoming book, “Our Hometown, Volume II.” 

The second edition will focus on places and events outside of Libby but in Lincoln County. Topics and themes that will be included are exploration, fur trapping and settlement of Northwest Montana, mining including the development of the local vermiculite industry, hunting, and fishing, homesteading, early transportation methods in the area including rail, steamboats on the Kootenai River, and early roads and highways. A large segment will chronicle the Libby Dam project.

"My goal in writing Volume II is to capture and portray to readers the unique and steadfast character of those who first settled in the Libby area," Gruber said.

His presentation at the museum will include photos and historical accounts that are included in the book. The expected release of the book is in late spring 2025.

The afternoon will kick off at 12:15 p.m. with a rousing skit performed by the Old Time Opera House Theater.

Outside, products will be for sale by vendors throughout the day. At 1:15 p.m. the Big Sky Bows & Blowhards band which will perform in the outdoor pavilion.

Lunch in the historic Sylvanite Cookhouse features delicious hamburgers, home-baked pies and cold drinks.

The Lincoln County Amateur Radio Group will be set up in the yard, ready to answer questions, explain their equipment, or demonstrate the sending of messages. 

Tour the museum grounds in a Model-T Ford or antique fire engine with a trained chauffeur at the wheel, view a crosscut saw demonstration or crush rocks in the antique rock crusher. 

Smokey Bear will be on the grounds from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by Sparky the Fire Engine Dog from noon to 2 p.m. 

A silent auction will be held in the Swamp Creek Community Hall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to benefit the Shay locomotive restoration. Up for auction will be log furniture, a full-body cougar mount, a large rug, gift certificates for Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort lodging, Big Sky Waterpark, Twin Lakes Village Golf Club, Fairmont golf pass and gift baskets. 

Locomotive mechanics will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. by the Shay shed. They’ll talk about the progress of the Shay restoration and share plans for the future.

Beginning opening day and continuing through June, the Kootenai Valley Quilt Guild will display quilts in the Tower Gallery. The gallery will house a changing exhibit throughout the summer with artwork by local artists during July and finish the season with photographs in August through the season’s end.

The museum is open for the season through Sept. 30 on Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Admission is by donation. 

The Heritage Museum is a nonprofit corporation and relies on donations to continue its mission to collect, preserve, protect and interpret the history of Lincoln County for education, research, cultural enrichment and recreation for residents and visitors of all ages. The museum is run entirely by volunteers. 

For more information, call the museum at 406-293-7521.