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Frontier House Museum
Nevada City, Montana
The Montana Heritage Commission has contracted with the producers of "The Frontier House" to acquire the artifacts used in filming this three-part series of exploration of life on the 1883 Montana frontier. The Grand Opening of this new museum exhibit was June 1, 2002.
The Frontier House Museum was created to coincide with the series premiere in April 2002. The museum is an attempt to capture an anticipated local, national, and international interest in America's return to her roots. Frontier House, a co-production of Thirteen/WNET New York and Wall To Wall Television in association with Channel 4 (U.K.), premiered April 29-May 1, 2002 on PBS (watch local listings for re-air dates).
The crew and cast of Frontier House spent most of 2001 in Montana filming the series in which three modern day families time-travel back to live as they would have on the 1883 Rocky Mountain frontier. Composed of seven adults and six children, these adventurous families resided in "Frontier Valley", an isolated mountain location in south central Montana. Reliving an era coincident with the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad in the Montana Territory, they endured the hardships and privations of pioneer life for six months.
The wood stove was the only source of heat and the only means of cooking for the duration of the Frontier House filming.
One of our primary goals with this series was to discover the differences made in our lives between the 19th and 20th century by science and technology" explained Beth Hoppe, executive producer for Thirteen. "We're delighted to share some of this early technology from the series - namely the domestic tools - with the Montana Heritage Commission and its visitors, hope it will spark conversation about the series and the lessons within it.
The entire contents of the families' three log cabins are exhibited in similar Nevada City cabins. Nevada City was used as a training site for the three families as they transitioned back in time, learning the basics: animal husbandry, wood stove cooking, gardening, carpentry, and the other skills needed to survive 118 years ago. Nevada City also provided the models for the three log cabins used by the families in their frontier location. Visitors can see items from the series such as clothing, tools, cooking utensils, axes, gas lamps, and more.
"Americans have often looked to history to recount human struggles and achievements," stated Montana Heritage Commissioner and retired MSU History professor Jeff Safford. "We believe this series and the display of its artifacts in Historic Nevada City will rekindle an old definition of the word 'home' and demonstrate how the frontier experience helped shape what it means to be an American."
Travel pundits predict that domestic tourism will increase in 2002. The Frontier House exhibit will give visitors another reason to add Montana to their itineraries and see our natural and cultural treasures. Articles on Frontier House have appeared in the January/February 2002 issue of American Girl magazine, Feb/Mar 2002 issue of Modern Bride, April 2002 Better Homes & Gardens--a 3-part article April/May/June 2002, Smithsonian, Victoria, Parents, Glamour, Seventeen and TV Guide.
For more information about Frontier House, check out the series Web site at www.pbs.org/wnet/frontierhouse, visit the Travel Montana website at visitmt.com, go to Frontier Life or visit Current Online.