GATEWAY TO MONTANA
Montana Visitor Information Center
If your trail to Montana's Lewis and Clark sites starts on Interstate 94, the
Montana Visitor Information Center at Wibaux is the place to stop for the most up-to-date information on events, road conditions and accommodations. Our friendly, "Superhost" trained staff welcomes visitors
May 1 to September 30, seven days a week. The visitor center, located just six miles from the North Dakota border at Exit 242, is well stocked with maps, travel planners, and brochures from throughout the state.
1790s History Mystery
In 1956, a farmer noticed writing on stones he was clearing from his fields four miles northeast of Wibaux. The writings turned out to be
names of nine persons with the last names of Mead, Dean, Pike, Neil and Watson, including two women and a minister. All of the stones have two crosses on them and say, "1791, June 18, killed in the raid", except
for James Mead's, who was killed in October 1790, and the Rev. Neil's, which has four crosses. Who were these people and what were they doing in this area prior to the Lewis and Clark Expedition? Scholars
have tried to solve the mystery, but so far have not come up with anything conclusive. The names were not found in the records of the Hudson Bay Company or any of the
Canadian fur companies, and even if they were trappers, how does one explain the presence of women and a minister?
The stones are on display at the Pierre Wibaux Museum, located at 112 E. Orgain Avenue in
downtown Wibaux. The museum, open May 1 to September 30, also features a railroad car that was part of Montana's Territorial Centennial Train at the 1964 New York World's Fair, an old-fashioned
barbershop, a livery stable, and the in-town office/home of Pierre Wibaux, the early-day cattleman after whom the town is named. There is no charge to visit the museum.
History buffs will also find much to explore in the Wibaux Commercial Historic District, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Among the buildings in the district is a
beautiful, rock-covered church, constructed through the generosity of Pierre Wibaux, the town's founder. A self-guided walking tour of the historic district is available at the visitor information center
or at the Pierre Wibaux Museum.
Pierre Wibaux Monument
Pierre Wibaux was born in Roubaix, France, into a family that had made its fortune in
textiles. His father expected him to continue in this line, but as a young man studying in England, Pierre heard about cattle ranching in the American west, and wanted to try his
hand at it. He came to the Beaver Valley in 1883 and over the next dozen years developed one of the largest ranch operations in Montana. At its peak in the 1890s, his
W Bar Ranch owned about 65,000 cattle and 300 saddle horses, and employed 25 to 35 men during the busy season. When he died in 1913, his will stipulated that his ashes
were to be buried under a statue of himself attired as a cowboy overlooking the land he loved. The statue is located at 812 W. Orgain Avenue.
When Lewis and Clark came through what is now eastern Montana, bison, beaver, deer, antelope,
elk, bear and all types of wildlife were plentiful. Beaver Creek, which runs right through Wibaux, still has an abundance of beavers: so many that residents living near the creek have to protect their
trees from the critters. You can see beaver dams right behind the museum downtown. The bison, bear and elk are gone, hunted out or pushed west a century ago. In the 1880s, thousands of buffalo
robes were shipped out of Wibaux (then known as Mingusville) by rail. Deer, antelope and wild turkeys are still around and frequently spend time in or right near town, especially early in the morning. Keep your eyes open!
Wibaux is a town of just 560 persons, but it has motels, campgrounds, restaurants, and a full complement of other businesses ready to serve the traveling public. An outdoor swimming pool, a
modern children's playground, and picnic facilities are also available.
For further information,
Wibaux County Chamber of Commerce
PO Box 159, Wibaux, MT 59353
E-mail: [email protected].
From May 1 to September 30, contact the Montana Visitor Information Center at Wibaux
telephone (406) 796-2253.