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LibbyMt.com > News > April 2008 > David Thompson and the Fur Trade in Northwest Montana

Heritage Museum. Photo by Dawn Ballou, LibbyMT.com.
Heritage Museum
Libby's Heritage Museum is open daily June, July and August. Admission is by donation.
David Thompson and the Fur Trade in Northwest Montana
Presentation at the Heritage Museum in Libby on May 5th
by Heritage Museum
April 20, 2008

(Libby) - May 5th, 2008 marks the 200 anniversary of the arrival of David Thompson of the Northwest Fur Company and his men to what would later be the site of Libby, Montana. Thompson is acclaimed as one of the greatest land geographers who ever lived. Between 1784-1850, Thompson traveled over 55,000 miles and mapped the principal geographic features over an area of 1.5 million square miles from Hudson Bay to the Pacific Coast. He filled in a large part of what had been unknown area on the maps of North America. Unfortunately Thompson died in obscurity and poverty and his great maps were copied by Aaron Arrowsmith of London, England who did not give credit for Thompsonís work. During the 1880ís, the great accomplishments of this map were rediscovered by Canadian Geologist Joseph R. Tyrrell who began the process of documenting Thompsonís accomplishments in the exploration and mapping of the northwest part of the North American continent.

Thompson left Kootenae House, present day Windermere, B.C., on an exploring and trading journey with five men and trade goods in twelve 90 pound bales, called pieces. He made his way down the Kootenai River describing and mapping the country in his journal as he traveled. David Thompson operated throughout this area between 1808 and 1812. In 1812, he left the Pacific Northwest for the east side of the Rocky Mountains never to return. He began work on his great map in the Province of Quebec using the astronomical observations and the geographical data that he had written in his journals and finishing in 1814.

The Heritage Museum is pleased to open an exhibit dedicated to David Thompson and the fur trade in Northwestern Montana. This exhibit was made possible by a grant from the Lincoln County Commisioners and private donations. One display will be dedicated to David Thompson and will focus on his mapping of this area while the other display will be of the history of the fur trade and trading operations of the Northwest Fur Company who operated in the area from 1808 to 1821, and the Hudson Bay Company operations in 1810-1811 and 1821-1865. In about 1860 the Hudson Bay Company moved their operations north across the International Boundary into British Territory. One American Company, the Pacific Fur Company, briefly operated a trading operation on the Kootenai River during the winter of 1812-1813.

The opening and dedication of the David Thompson and Fur Trade exhibits will take place at the Heritage Museum, 1367 Highway 2, Libby, Montana, at 7:00 P.M., May 5th, 2008. The opening ceremony will be followed by a presentation on David Thompson and the fur trade in northwestern Montana. Refreshments will be served at the Heritage Museum Cook House.

The 30th Anniversary Opening Day will be held at the Heritage Museum on Saturday, May 31, from10 AM - 5 PM. It will feature demonstrations of a 100-year-old loom, mining equipment, chain saws and drag saws; the new exhibit of explorer David Thompson and the fur trade in Northwest Montana; entertainment; burgers, cakes and pies served all day in the historic cookhouse.

The Heritage Museum is located at 1367 US Hwy 2 S in Libby. The Museum is open daily during the summer months June Ė August. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM and Sunday, 1:00 - 5:00 PM. Admission is by donation. For more information call 406-293-7521, or e-mail: museum@libby.org. www.libbyheritagemuseum.com.

LibbyMt.com > News > April 2008 > David Thompson and the Fur Trade in Northwest Montana
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