Old Bitterroot photos new additions to administration building

The Ravalli County Museum has provided several historic photos documenting Bitterroot history to decorate walls of the Administration Building.There are photographs of the first five cars that were delivered to the Bitterroot, pictures of a political rally at the old Ravalli Hotel from 1920, and a Fourth of July Parade in Darby in 1895.

Snippets of Ravalli County's history are on display at the Administration building in Hamilton.

If you have business in county offices housed in that building you can get a brief synopsis of times gone by in the Bitterroot.

Daren Favaro is with the Ravalli County Maintenance Department.

Favaro hung three historic photographs on the walls of the second floor in the building Tuesday.

He made sure the photos were perfectly spaced and level. The result of his work was instantly eye-catching.

The framed black and white photos are the first thing the public sees when they come in the entryway of the building which once housed the old Marcus Daly Hospital.

Favaro has his favorite. "The one in the middle," he pointed to, "with all the cars. I'm a car guy. I love cars. Old cars."

That photograph was taken in 1920 of a political rally at the old Ravalli Hotel in Hamilton. In the photo is a sea of cars, an obvious snapshot of Hamilton's early love of the automobile.

Ravalli County Clerk and Recorder Regina Plettenberg has her own favorite. It's a photo of a Fourth of July parade in Darby in 1895.

"We tried to get a parade and a political rally," said the woman who oversees elections, "They felt election-y," she laughed.

That photo is taken on Darby's Main Street looking south. If you stand in the same spot today there really isn't that much difference.

There's also a picture of Main Street Corvallis looking north. Prominent in the photo is the then new brick school house which was built in 1914. That school burned down in 1930.

If you stand in the same spot pointing north today you see a similar view but with a new school at the end of the street.

Plettenberg and Ravalli County Treasurer Dan Whitesitt pored over thousands of historic photos at the Ravalli County Museum. They wanted a variety of pictures to document valley history.

"We wanted to have pictures of the entire valley," said Whitesitt.

Whitesitt, who is a Stevensville native, found the oldest photo of St. Mary's Mission that he has ever seen.

He has a number of photographs that have yet to be hung.

He thought the Department of Motor Vehicles should have an automotive theme.

"To portray that," he said, "We have pictures of the first five cars that were brought to Ravalli County. We've got pictures of the old Victor Garage, which has a couple cars in front of it."

The photos join others that were hung in the Administration Building's third floor last year.

On those walls is a farmer operating a buck rake with his team of horses. There are cowboys and lumberjacks.

There's a stunning photo of Salish Elder Victor Vanderburg on horseback along the Bitterroot River near Fort Owen.

The photographs are meant to let people enjoy a little history of the valley and to learn more about their own towns, community and historic culture.

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