Filed Under Great Falls

Cowboy Bar and Museum

Great Falls West Bank Historic District

Former Great Falls “cowhands” held a reunion in 1938. Now grown men, as boys they had earned money herding local milk cows in and out of town each day or driving range cattle through the city streets. Membership soon expanded beyond Great Falls, and over 300 former cowboys attended the Montana Cowboys Association’s second annual reunion banquet in 1939. Association President Bill Shea donated the land for a meeting hall and museum dedicated to preserving memories of cowboy life. The Cowboys worked with the National Youth Association (NYA) to build the museum, completed in 1941. A New Deal program designed to provide work for youth between sixteen and twenty-five, the NYA intentionally adopted labor intensive designs and techniques to maximize employment. The result was a well-crafted stone and log building, whose Rustic style evoked the museum’s intention of glorifying the Old West. Later additions expanded the facility, which houses a bar, noted for its cowboy hospitality, and a museum of over 500 artifacts—from rifles and saddles to a Kimball-Reed organ, brought to Montana by steamboat in 1876.


Cowboys Bar & Museum
Cowboys Bar & Museum View of facade Source: National Register of Historic Places nomination form, MT State Historic Preservation Office, Helena Creator: Mark Hufstetler Date: May 2009


311 3rd Street Northwest, Great Falls, Montana | Private


The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Cowboy Bar and Museum,” Historic Montana, accessed June 18, 2024,