Having Fun While Doing Good at Fort Shaw

You just never know … Recently, BGES was completing a remarkable tour following the trail of Lewis and Clark from the magnificent Great Falls to the Pacific Coast, and then back again to Great Falls. One of the lower visibility stops was a forgotten and practically abandoned military installation, Fort Robert Gould Shaw (originally Camp Reynolds), some 24 miles west of Great Falls. It was operational from 1867 to 1891, when it became a school for Native American children between 1892 and 1910.

The Missouri River

The fort was famous as being the encampment for Col. John Gibbon, who left with his command in March 1877 to rendezvous with Gen. Alfred Terry and Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer at the mouth of the Rosebud River. After Custer’s massacre, the soldiers under Gibbon buried Custer’s soldiers. Today, the locals—a community of less than 200—have formed a historical society and opened a rustic but very impressive museum with three buildings that they maintain through local craftsmen. Shortly before we arrived, a hail storm had broken a number of windows, and they were in the process of fixing them.

Retired Air Force Col. Phil Waldron collared me and handed me $100 and said, “Let’s make a donation to cover the cost of their materials since they were repairing it themselves.”

Made a lot of sense to me, and on the spot, I went and stroked them a check for $250. They were gobsmacked and couldn’t give us enough thanks. They hardly ever see any visitors but they will never forget the 29th of June when the BGES came. All of us left feeling pretty good that we had had fun while doing good.

Phil Waldron and Neil Mangum presenting a BGES check for $250 to the custodian of Fort Shaw
One of the fort’s windows in need of dire repair