Weathered Old Buildings in Montana

/, Centennial Valley, Montana/Weathered Old Buildings in Montana

Although my primary focus is on bird and nature photography I also enjoy seeing and photographing the old wooden buildings that I come across in my journeys. Those structures always make me wonder what life was life for the people who built the barns, granaries and the old homesteads.

An old barn in Monida, MontanaAn old barn in Monida, Montana

At the 0 mile marker in Montana just across the Idaho state line on I-15 there is a turn off that goes towards Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge via a long gravel road, this toppled barn is at that location. I’m almost certain that when it was first built it was considered large and soundly built. The winter weather is extreme in Monida, with very low temperatures and high winds at the top of Monida Pass. The strong winds probably had a lot to do with toppling this barn.

An old house in the Centennial Valley of MontanaAn old homestead in the Centennial Valley of Montana

The windows and doors of this pioneer homestead on the South Road of the Centennial Valley in Beaverhead County, Montana face the east probably to gain some warmth from the rising sun. Winters in the valley are tough even today because the gravel road is snow-covered for most of the winter and it can be bitter cold. I can only imagine what it would have been like in the late 1800’s. The extreme conditions there have taken a toll on this homestead.

There were cows outside and inside the building when I took this image.

Old homestead, east side of the Centennial ValleyOld homestead, east side of the Centennial Valley

Someone cared enough about preserving this old homestead that they put a metal roof on it to protect it from the elements and boarded up the windows and doors to keep larger mammals out that could be destructive to the interior. Someone scraped into the old wood to create the zig-zag pattern that is visible between the windows and door but other wise this old homestead is in the best condition of any that I have seen in the valley. The outbuildings near it though have seen much better days, some of them are without a roof and a few are collapsing.

The windows and door on this home face almost due west so the afternoon light must have helped to warm the people who lived in it. Next time I am in the valley I’d like to look at the foundation of this homestead and see if anyone left the date there of when this building was erected. I didn’t look at the chinking between the logs but this place looks like it was snugly built.

I sure appreciate being able to see these weathered old buildings because it does make me think of the history of the people who lived in this valley in southwestern Montana so long ago. They must have had rough lives and an excess of courage.



  1. M. Firpi September 1, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    The passage of time is what comes to my mind. Nice historical images. I’d much rather see these rustic structures full of stories and legends, than to see their privatisation and transformation into hotel resorts and/or real estate development projects.

    • Mia McPherson September 2, 2012 at 10:25 am

      Maria, I’m happy to say I don’t think any of these buildings are in danger of being transformed. The area that they are in is a harsh and often inhospitable during the winter season and far from what many people would consider a “tourist” hotspot. Not enough (any) Starbucks, malls or fancy restaurants!

  2. Merrill Ann Gonzales September 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    When I was doing some research on hawks, I read in an article somewhere that these buildings when they first go up on the prairie actually change the flora and fauna around them, which seems to influence what species of hawk will do well and which will leave etc. I wonder, as they deteriorate back into the soil if things go back to the way they were or are they changed yet further. It was an interesting article and I wish I could cite it for you.

    • Mia McPherson September 2, 2012 at 10:21 am

      That does sound like an interesting article Merrill. I am almost certain that when we erect buildings we change the habitat enough to change what birds might be in that area. I will say that across the road from the home with the roof on it in this post there are corrals and a falling down barn, Red-tailed Hawks love to perch over there to scout for prey. I don’t think they would have done that when the residents of this home were there. Sadly people used to shoot Red-tailed Hawks (or Chicken Hawks) because of the reputation they got for killing domesticated chickens, ducks and the like.

  3. Stu September 1, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Reminds me of my house 😉 Great Photos and detail Mia. As Pam and Syl said, there is a lot of history there to be told. True Pioneers.

    • Mia McPherson September 2, 2012 at 10:18 am

      LOL Stu! I’m sure your house isn’t falling down. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Pam :) September 1, 2012 at 10:12 am

    I find something comforting in weather-worn wooden buildings.. if only they could talk, what a tale they could tell.
    Beautifully done, Mia.

    • Mia McPherson September 2, 2012 at 10:17 am

      Thank you Pam! I wish we could hear the history of these buildings just by touching their “bones”.

  5. Syl September 1, 2012 at 9:03 am

    If only these old buildings could talk. We have several here in Pagosa Country which I am sure have lots of tales to tell. People really and truly had to be tough…Thanks for sharing.. the detail in the photos are awesome.

    • Mia McPherson September 2, 2012 at 10:16 am

      Syl, it has been a while since I have been to the Pagosa area but I do remember the old buildings as well as the spectacular scenery. I still get a bit homesick for Colorado.

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