Bear Paw Battlefield volunteers traveled onboard Amtrak’s “Empire Builder” this summer with interpretive programs for train travelers.
In cooperation with Amtrak’s Trails and Rails program, National Park Service volunteers hosted the train trip four days a week from Havre, Montana, to Minot, North Dakota. As part of this nationwide partnership between Amtrak and the National Park Service, the 18 Bear Baw volunteers contacted 450 people a day. The volunteers ranged in age from 19 to 66 years old.
With NPS interpretive training required for all volunteers to participate, volunteers not only interpreted local history and Native American culture, but also the modern day ranching and oil and gas development that are seen along the way. Exciting points along the route are Fort Union National Historic Site and Exeter Creek Bridge, where Kid Curry and his gang robbed the Great Northern Railroad Flyer of $40,000 in cash.
Bear Paw Battlefield is featured as the train passes Chinook, Montana, site of the last battle of the four-month Nez Perce War of 1877. Bear Paw is part of Nez Perce National Historical Park and Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail. The Nez Perce story is continued at Fort Buford State Historic Site in North Dakota, a three-day stop for the Nez Perce people on their way to exile in Oklahoma Indian Territory.