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Save America's Treasures - A Resource for Historic Inscription Research

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The purpose of this project is to digitally document, organize and archive historic signatures, dates and artwork spanning the time period from the 1800’s to the present.


The northern high plains are rich in sandstone geologic formations.  Carved by nature into spectacular shapes and cliff lines, these formations have served as convenient natural palettes for historic inscriptions and artwork. Accumulated on the sandstone surfaces of this region are thousands of signatures and historic artwork that chronicle the settlement of the west since the early 1800’s post Lewis and Clark era.  These cultural resources are threatened by natural erosion, development, and modern vandalism.


Due to natural and cultural forces, these resources are disappearing at an accelerating rate.  This project provides a foundation for present and future archiving and researching of these unique historic resources through applications of digital imaging and three-dimensional scanning technology. This database created by this project also serves as a new resource for genealogy and historic research of these nationally significant incisings. The populace that left these marks participated in significant national events that shaped the west, such as troop movements during the Plains Indian Wars and cavalry battles, including the Battle at Little Big Horn. They document the arrival and presence of the people that first brought cattle into the region, traveled the Bozeman Trail, worked on the railroads and founded the towns. Inscriptions exist from people that participated in the first United States Geological Survey and served in the Civilian Conservation Corps. Individually, some inscriptions were created by figures that stand out in history; together, this significant collection documents the general settlement and development of the region through a period of general national expansion, continuing into a period of early community development.


This new, unique regional resource is a result of collaboration among many public and private entities. Return to the page often during the first part of 2008 as content is being introduced weekly.


Many of the files here are uncompressed and may take long periods of time to load over a dial-up connection. A high-speed connection is recommended or files may be accessed directly in the Special Collections area of the Montana State University Billings Library.

Ashland area
Bull Mountains
Bull Mountains
Bull Mountains
Bull Mountains
Custer area