Livingston, Montana: The Yellowstone Gateway Museum celebrates the opening of its newest exhibit, On Fire: Structural and Wildland Firefighting, on Thursday, July 3. Admission to the museum is free during the opening from 5-7 PM and the public is invited to the event before the evening’s rodeo. Appearances by Smokey Bear, courtesy of the USFS Gallatin National Forest, Yellowstone District, and the Livingston Fire & Rescue, are expected. Refreshments are provided.
The exhibit is dramatic and exciting as only fire can be, but it is also interpretive and helps people learn how to be fire safe. Artifacts from the museum’s collection—many donated by the Livingston Fire Department—are on display and illustrate how fire apparatus and firefighting techniques have changed over time. The museum’s collection includes two fire engines: the 1936 American LaFrance and the 1976 Ford 8000; both were donated by the Livingston Fire Department and are on exhibit in the museum’s courtyard.
Stories from local firefighters are highlighted, as well as historic and contemporary photographs depicting fire. Several local photographers, including Jeff Henry, Matt Long, Duncan Moran, Jim Peaco, Rob Park, and Shawn Raecke generously donated their powerful images of fire to the exhibit.
The museum has assembled a timeline of Park County fires. Structural fires were particularly destructive to downtown Livingston businesses in 1885, 1904, 1969, and 1975, and these stories are interpreted in the exhibit. Fires caused by arson—the Livingston Middle School, Winans School, and the Yellowstone Hotel—are also featured. The epic 1988 fires in Yellowstone National Park are interpreted as is the 2012 Pine Creek Fire. One section of the exhibit shares the advice of local fire experts, raising awareness about things homeowners can do to avoid property damage or destruction by fire. Museum goers are invited to take home various informational handouts, bags, bookmarks, and stickers provided to the museum by the Park County Firesafe Coalition and the National Fire Protection Association. To help celebrate Smokey Bear’s 70th birthday this year, a computer station (for all ages) features activities on the interactive web site, www.smokeybear.com. Vintage Smokey Bear posters are also displayed. Youth (and adults) have an opportunity to realize their childhood dream of becoming a firefighter by trying on structural and wildland firefighters’ uniforms: jackets, helmets, gloves, and boots.
The fire exhibit is sponsored by the Park County Fire Council which includes the Park County Rural Fire District #1, Clyde Park Rural Fire District #2, Wilsall Rural Fire District #3, Paradise Valley Fire & EMS, Gateway Hose Co.—Gardiner Volunteer Fire & Ambulance, Cooke City & Silvergate Fire Department, Livingston Fire & Rescue, Clyde Park City Fire & EMS, Park County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Department of Natural Resources Council, and the USFS, Gallatin National Forest. The Friends of the Yellowstone Gateway Museum also gave financial and other support to the exhibit.
Please call the museum, 406-222-4184, for more information. The museum is open seven days/week, 10 AM to 5 PM. Youth are always free at the museum and special activities are geared toward children and their families.