Upper Swan Valley Oral History Project audio transcripts

Long before it became known as the Gordon Ranch, this natural prairie in the Swan River Valley has been a gathering place. From the Pend d’Oreille people gathering to dig camas, to the Hollands bringing hunters together for a pack trip, to the mapmakers and surveyors gathering to resupply and camp, to Dr. Gordon and family coming to celebrate the newly constructed lodge, the Gordon Ranch has provided many hardy souls with shelter, companionship and sustenance.

Thank you Custom Landworks! Chris Barnes and his crew recently installed a new split-rail cedar fence along the south boundary of the Museum property.

The Huck Book has been reprinted in 2019 for the third time.

See below to purchase the Montana: Voices of the Swan
Stories From The Upper Swan Valley Oral History Project

The 3rd edition of the USVHS book, As Time Goes By, a Chronology of Swan Valley, was updated with events dating up to 2019. 

The two-room Maki Cabin was likely built by Swan Valley homesteader Jalmer Maki in the late 1910s or early 1920s. One room was a sauna.

Special thanks to Gary Freyholtz of Swan Valley Logcrafters, who has pieced the cabin back together from a pile of logs. We would also like to thank Gary Lazarowski and Steve Lamar who have added the rafters and installed the roof. 

Swan Valley Homesteaders' Family Trees

Maki Cabin at Swan Valley Museum

The Whalen homestead cabin is now at home on the Swan Valley museum site. It was located on the Donald property visible from the Kraft Creek road...

Continue reading the June 2, 2016 Seeley Swan Pathfinder article >>

Selish-Ql'ispe Place Names Map

Place your order today! The cost of the book is $15. Add $4 postage and handling, per book, for any orders to be mailed.

Tractor Exhibit

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Inside this collection of huckleberry stories, historical accounts and recipes you’ll discover the distinctive flavor of Swan Valley. Sprinkled with archival photos, The Huck Book looks back at the traditions and lore that showcase the most sought- after fruit of the forest. Sample Swan Valley’s rich and varied culinary heritage from over 80 recipes generously supplied by the valley’s finest cooks. The Huck Book is a feast of historical accounts and nostalgia as well as a guide to the best huckleberry delights in the West.

The Huck Book:
Swan Valley's Berried Stories, History and Recipes

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Trapper Cabin
The Upper Swan Valley Historical Society, Inc. obtained an old trapper cabin to exhibit at the Swan Valley Museum. Built by Fred Messerer in the late 1920s, early 1930s era, the cabin originally was located in the Elbow Lake Lookout area above Lindbergh Lake.

Smith Creek School Gains New Home
By Colleen Kesterson, Seeley Swan Pathfinder
​July 2, 2015 (PDF)

Historic Smith Creek School Rebuilt

Montana: Voices Of The Swan is also available for purchase at the following locations:

Montana: Voices of the Swan
Stories From The Upper Swan Valley Oral History Project

Inside this chronology of the scenic Swan Valley in western Montana you’ll learn about  events that connect us to the Indian people who first encountered the Swan Valley, the surveyors  who mapped thousands of acres of uncharted land, the homesteaders who toiled to eke out a living, the foresters and woodsmen who managed the natural resources, and numerous citizens who worked to make the character of Swan Valley what it is today. Whether you are a student of local history or a curious visitor in the Swan, reading this chronology will expand your understanding of the natural, cultural and historical aspects of the region.

Swan River Tavern

Bill Anderson, Lloyd Hahn, and a crew of volunteers moved the Swan River Tavern to the Swan Valley Museum & Heritage Site. 2012. Donated by the Quadros family.

Swan Valley Museum

Please consider helping us further develop and maintain the Swan Valley Museum. Visit our Support page to pledge your support!

Wranglers, Dudes and Homesteaders captures the magic of the Western lifestyle as it carries one back to the early years of Montana’s dude ranches, with stories and photos of that bygone era from Lindbergh Lake Lodge, Holland Lake Lodge and the Gordon Ranch. Surviving family members of previous lodge owners as well as former guests, share remembrances and tell tales of how things were. Wranglers, Dudes and Homesteaders, a production of the USVHS, is part of The Montana Experience: Stories from Big Sky Country and is featured on the Tourism Montana website. The film was directed and produced by Jenny Rohrer of Rohrer Film & Video.

Place your order today! The cost of the DVD is $15. Add $3 postage and handling, per DVD, for any orders to be mailed.

Over the past decade, many of the Swan Valley's early settlers and residents have been interviewed, sharing their stories of what it was like to be among the first to inhabit this wild and rugged land. The Upper Swan Valley Historical Society has published these experiences so future generations will have a better understanding of the challenging lifestyles as well as the changes on the landscape that our ancestors experienced. The book is filled with tales and recollections told by those who experienced them! Numerous photos and incidental historical information as well as maps have been added to the stories to help bring the past to life for the reader.

As Time Goes By: A Chronology of Swan Valley

Wranglers, Dudes and Homesteaders
Stories from Montana's Swan Valley Lodges
Lindbergh Lake Lodge, Holland Lake Lodge and Gordon Ranch
30 minutes


Upper Swan Valley Historical Society

The Gathering Place: Swan Valley’s Gordon Ranch

Inside this volume the reader will gain a broader understanding of the natural, cultural and historical aspects of the region as well as discover the oftentimes amusing and downright astounding tales about authentic western ranch experiences of the owners, caretakers, and ranch hands. From branding, to fencing, to haying, to horse-driving, to outfitting, the record of their experiences gives us a sense of who we are and how the landscape shapes us.

>>>See more on the Gordon Ranch

Place your order today! The cost of the book is $25. Add $5 postage and handling, per book, for any orders to be mailed.

Old Case tractor, circa 1912 to 1918.
​Donated by Neil and Dixie Meyer.

As a tribute to all the homesteaders and early settlers who toiled to eke out a living in Swan Valley, the USVHS highlights a local family with deep and lasting connections to our community. The family trees are on display at the Swan Valley Museum and a 12x18" print is available for purchase. 

Whalen Homestead Moved to Swan Valley Museum Grounds
New Fence at the Museum!

The Selish-Ql'ispe Culture Committee provided a Swan Valley Place Names Map for display in the Swan Valley Museum. The map features the Pend d'Oreille Indian names of the landmarks, as well as photos and descriptions of this region. Below are highlights from the Dedication Ceremony, held on October 11, 2017

Place your order today! The cost of the book is $45 or $40 each for two or more books per order. Add $6 postage and handling, per book, for any orders to be mailed.

This collection includes interviews with residents of the Swan Valley, Montana, detailing the agricultural, ranching, forest service, logging and outfitting activities in the area. The interviews were conducted from 1998 to 2009 by Suzanne M. Vernon, Samantha Epstein, Jeanell Innerarity, Kit Johnston, and Adam Lieberg. The interviewees discuss specific locations such as Lindbergh Lake, Salmon Prairie, and Gordon Ranch as well as broader subjects including Swan Valley community, recreation, schools, churches, and wildlife. The original interviews are held as Oral History collection OH 422 at Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula.

This collection includes 56 interviews.

>>> Also see Museum Updates