Filed Under Helena

Mount Helena Historic District

Mount Helena stands out “grandly and cleancut,” a dramatic backdrop for the city that has grown in its shadow. Since picnickers first enjoyed its quiet refuge during mining camp days, Mount Helena has served the community. First miners searched in vain for its minerals. Settlers next stripped its slopes of timber and quarried its limestone. In 1883, residents by the hundreds trekked up the mountainside to watch the railroad, smoking slowly westward across the valley to Helena. Then on November 12, 1894, a huge bonfire at the summit lit the night sky, confirming Helena’s victory as state capital. Near the century’s turn, forest fires further decimated the near-barren mountain. A city park was proposed in 1898 and on Arbor Day in 1899, Helena schoolchildren armed with baskets of evergreen seedlings hiked the lightning-scorched slopes. Accompanied by Fred Kuphal’s violin, they began reforestation. From the ashes also came the “1906 Mount Helena Trail,” actually constructed by the city in 1903. Far-sighted city fathers envisioned “a wind-blown seed, and inch of shade, a little snow, and peace ... to make a beautiful tree upon the mountain.” And so it was in 1906 that through the cooperative efforts of the Helena Improvement Society and the newly created U.S. Forest Service, 30,000 seedlings were hand-planted upon the eastern slope. Many still flourish. Today the city’s century-old invitation still stands: “Do not deny yourself the health and pleasure of the ... delightful walk. Go all and go often.”

Images

Mount Helena Historic District
Mount Helena Historic District Mount Helena Historic District. View on Mount Helena looking east at the city of Helena. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Mary Greene Date: Sept. 1995
Mount Helena Historic District
Mount Helena Historic District Mount Helena Historic District. View of the Mount Helena looking west from the grounds of the old Central School. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Mary Greene Date: Sept. 1995
Mount Helena Historic District
Mount Helena Historic District Mount Helena Historic District. View of the top of Mount Helena, facing south. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Mary Greene Date: Sept. 1995
Mount Helena Historic District
Mount Helena Historic District Mount Helena Historic District. View of the lime kilns, facing north. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Mary Greene Date: Sept. 1995
Mount Helena Historic District
Mount Helena Historic District Mount Helena Historic District. View of Mount Helena from the southwest. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Mary Greene Date: Sept. 1995
Mt. Helena
Mt. Helena View of trailhead sign Source: iPhone SE digital image Creator: Dan R-A Date: June 2022
Mt. Helena
Mt. Helena View of Parking Lot Source: iPhone SE digital image Creator: Dan R-A Date: June 2022
Mt. Helena
Mt. Helena View of informational sign and bench Source: iPhone SE digital image Creator: Dan R-A Date: June 2022

Location

Mount Helena City Park, Helena, Montana | Public

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Mount Helena Historic District,” Historic Montana, accessed May 21, 2024, https://historicmt.org/items/show/793.