A Permanent and Substantial Road

521
https://www.ultimatemontana.com/media/com_jbusinessdirectory/pictures/companies/291/cropped-1551469267.png

Bigfork 59911,Flathead Area

Map Location

Categories:
Historical Markers/Interpretive SignHistoric Sites
Keywords:
General info

In the early 20th century many roads in Montana were constructed by convicts from the state prison in Deer Lodge. The Warden believed that manual labor not only taught the men a skill but also increased their self-esteem and reduced the chances they would later return to prison.

When created in 1913, the Montana Highway Commission had no money to build roads. Instead, they funded “demonstration” projects which often used convict labor. The state paid 50¢ a day for each convict, while the counties provided the equipment. About a third of the penitentiary’s 600 inmates worked outside the walls building roads and bridges throughout western Montana. This road was constructed by convict labor in 1913 and 1914.

About 111 prisoners worked on the road and lived in two tent camps. They enjoyed a measure of freedom not present in the prison. The food was generally good and the men were treated to evening band concerts performed by their musically inclined comrades. Despite this, thirteen men fled the camps; all were eventually recaptured and returned to prison. Built entirely by hand labor with horse-drawn scrapers and graders, the road cost $31,825 when completed. This was the longest section of road built by convicts before the program ended in 1927. Although upgraded over the years, the highway retains the same alignment established by Montana’s convict laborers before World War 1.

About Us

Our mission is to provide the most comprehensive information site for the state of Montana. We welcome public input and comments.

Contact

1627 W. Main #447
Bozeman, MT 59715

Contact Us

Created with love by New Times Media Corporation

We're New Times Media - a friendly and fun group of people. At New Times Media we love to share anything and everything we know about the great state of Montana, so we created this site to make learning about our state as easy as possible. Our site is free to use and has the simplest possible user interface.

Privacy policy:

We use Google Analytics for site usage analytics. Your IP address is saved on our web server, but it's not associated with any personally identifiable information. We want you to enjoy and benefit from our site without worrying about who is tracking you (OK, so Google might track you, but that’s not us!)

Terms of service: the legal stuff

By using our site you agree to our Terms of service. TLDR: You don't need an account to use our site. Our site is free of charge and you can use it as much as you want. You need an account if you wish to list your business or control your business information. You can't do illegal or shady things with a business listing on our site. We may block your access to your page(s), if we find out you're doing something bad. Share anything you see, but don’t use our stuff for your own use without permission from us. We’re not liable for your actions and we offer no warranty. We may revise our terms at any time.