Mullan Road Conference 2014

Welcome! The 2014 Mullan Road Conference is coming to Missoula May 2-4, just in time to help Montana celebrate its 150th year of territoryhood

Take a step back to the 1860s to hear stories from some of the nation's foremost experts about what happened and what's happening on the road that built Montana.

The conference evolved out of the annual Mullan Day celebration that was initiated 25 years ago by the Mineral County Historical Society in Superior, Montana. Since 2006 it has been held each spring along the 624-mile military wagon road that Lieutenant John Mullan and his crews engineered and built in 1859-62 through the Northern Rockies from Walla Walla to Fort Benton.

A Friday night reception hosted by Fort Missoula museums will be followed on Saturday by a day of presentations and an evening banquet at Ruby’s Reserve Street Inn. On Sunday we'll take a tour of the road east of Missoula and, weather permitting, get a chance to walk in a rare existing footprint of the road.  

Schedule of events

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The Mullan Road Conference 2014 is funded in part by a grant from Humanities Montana, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, & the Mineral County Historical Society.


Conference Speakers

Julie Cajune, actor and award-winning educator from the Confederated Salish-Kootenai tribes

Ken Egan of Missoula, executive director of Humanities Montana and author of the upcoming sesquicentennial book Montana 1864

Dan McDermott of Winchester, Va., co-editor of the soon-to-be published anthology The Mullan Road: Carving a Passage Through the Frontier Northwest, 1859 to 1862

Stewart Nash of Townsend, professional land surveyor, western history novelist and author of an upcoming biography of John Mullan

Keith Peterson of Moscow, Idaho, Associate Director and State Historian of the Idaho State Historical Society and author of John Mullan: The Tumultuous Life of a Western Road Builder to be released this spring

 Ken Robison of Great Falls, historian at the Overholser Historical Research Center in Fort Benton, newspaper history columnist, and author of several books including the 2013 Montana Territory and the Civil War 

Sally Thompson of Missoula, anthropologist, ethnohistorian, filmmaker, independent researcher, and collaborator on People Before the Park, due out in 2014

Bill Weikel of Missoula, Montana Surveying Reenactors Corps and a director of the Surveyors Historical Society

Bill Youngs of Cheney, Washington, Eastern Washington University history professor, author and past Mullan Road Conference organizer

Kim Briggeman of Missoula, newspaper reporter and Montana history writer


On Sunday we'll trace the Mullan Road corridor from the site of historic Hellgate Village east through Missoula and 35 miles beyond. The day will include a rare opportunity to walk in a mountainside footprint of the 1862 Mullan Road.


Clark Fork River Valley Clark Fork River Valley:  First stop is the Milltown Bluff Overlook, Milltown State Park's version of HBO. Watch the history of early and modern Montana pass by against the panorama of a key site along the Mullan Road at the confluence of the Big Blackfoot. Requires a 250-yard walk along paved trail to the overlook. A shuttle cart will be available, courtesy of Canyon River Golf.



Three Mile Grade Three Mile Grade: East of Bonner and Turah climb the remnants of the mountainside road Mullan’s crews constructed in the winter/spring of 1862 to avoid two river crossings. We’ll stop for an overview from across the river, then those who wish will get a chance to hike a quarter of a mile to access the road from a private residence. This will also serve as our lunch stop, sandwiches provided by Ruby’s Inn.



Rocky Point Mullan RoadOther points of interest: Beavertail Hill (From 1863 Mullan Report: "Thirty-first day.-Move to Lannon's camp, nine miles; road excellent; may have to double team at Beaver Tail butte; good wood, water, and grass abundant."); Medicine Tree Hill, where Mullan threw the road to the south side of the river for the first time since St. Regis.






Missoula contacts:
Bill Weikel  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.(406) 880-2183
Kim Briggeman This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (406) 239-9301
Marcia Porter   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  (406) 728-0594
Superior contact:  Kay StromboThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  (406) 822-4626

Past Conferences

Mullan Road Conference 2013 in Spokane and Cheney, Mullan Road Conference 2012 in Walla Walla, Ken Robison's blogspot wrapup of the 2010 conference in Fort Benton, Copies of the Mullan Chronicles.

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