Richland County Fair in 1920

History, Heritage and Culture Kept Alive by the MonDak Heritage Center

Luella Schow

Luella Schow
Real Estate Loan Assistant in Sidney

Eastern Montana History

As I was growing up outside of Sidney, Montana, something triggered my interest in my family history. Maybe it was the pictures on the wall at my grandparent’s house. Maybe it was the stories my relatives would tell of people they knew and grew up with or things that they accomplished as paying jobs. One of my grandparents helped build the Fort Peck dam and my dad helped plant trees nearby. Some of those relatives could even describe the dress they wore when a special event happened in their teenage years, including the material color and pattern.

Eventually, my curiosity about my family history grew to include Sidney and Montana history. Maybe it was the M-O-N-T-A-N-A song that I learned while in Elementary School. Maybe it was the trophy case at my high school, full of trophies depicting special events of the past. I wanted to know where my grandparents came from and why they came to Montana.

Richland County Fair in 1920

Richland County Fair in 1920

All these things made a lasting impression in my life, so I decided to write down some of the family and Montana history that I was told.

Horse Racing

Horse Racing

Lover of History to Member of the Board

Simply, I like learning about history – my family’s history, the history of the land and the area. I also believe it’s important to volunteer and be an active part of the community. So, when I was approached to fill a temporary Board position by a person on the Board of Directors for the MonDak Heritage Center in Sidney, my answer was immediately, “yes!” Just as I am recording the history of my family, the MonDak Heritage Center holds and preserves the history of the Sidney area.

Over the years, I had watched this museum grow and evolve and was impressed with the direction the Center was heading. This museum had changed from a place with an old-time main street exhibit with various shops from past years set up in the basement, along with static exhibits on the main level, to a cultural center with history and art exhibits that change several times a year, community meetings, exercise classes and various musical entertainment and free movie events.

Sidney Library

Sidney Library

Engage, Educate, and Inspire

Today, the MonDak Heritage Center is a non-profit organization guided by a mission to: “engage, educate and inspire our community by preserving and contributing to the area’s art, culture and heritage”. In addition to art exhibits and special events, the Center now offers art classes for children and adults, including pottery and other projects. My granddaughter and I have taken several art classes and enjoy them tremendously. It has been fun to see the variety of art classes that are taught and the various projects the artists complete. There are after- school art classes and out- of- town art classes too.

Volunteers Make Up the Fabric of Communities

It takes dedicated people who donate their time and energy to keep a worthwhile project strong and growing. The MonDak Heritage Center hosts several fundraisers a year, including my favorite, “Celebrating Chocolate.” Stockman Bank has been a sponsor of this event for the past 10 years and continues to be involved. Only with volunteers and community involvement from businesses, the MonDak Heritage Center look towards a strong future, as it continues to contribute to the art and culture of the Sidney area and preserve history for future generations.

Front of MonDak Heritage Center

Front of MonDak Heritage Center


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Dragon Hollow Playground Rebuild - Featured

SAVING THE DRAGON: Missoula’s Dragon Hollow Playground Rebuild

Dragon Hollow Playground Rebuild

Seventeen years ago, 4,000 volunteers came together and in nine days made a dragon come to life. The architects were school children, and I have been told they had some very imaginative ideas including installing a spit bucket that could be used to keep the slide lubricated. Although all ingenious ideas could not be incorporated, a playground took form and it became a treasured icon in Downtown Missoula.

An army of volunteers was again raised, but this time it was to “Save the Dragon,” because in the words of my three-year-old daughter, the children played so much they wore the playground out.

Super PowerHow it all started:

The project began when the original architects recommended an extensive refurbishment of the entire play area.

As we began to fundraise, it became clear that not only did we need to renovate the original structure, but we also needed to make sure that all children, including those with disabilities, could enjoy this play area. It was simply the right thing to do. With an amazing committee leading the charge we tackled this project and the Missoula community responded, much the way they did 17-years ago, with their full support.

Daughter Swinging Bob and Maeve

To refurbish the existing structure wood was replaced with low maintenance recycled structural plastic, many of the components were replaced including new slides, ladders, tunnels, and any remaining wood was painted and stained.

Dragon Hollow Kids

Along with these renovations to the current structure all inclusive features are being added including:

  • A rubberized pathway throughout the park to allow access by wheelchairs to existing play features
  • New inclusive elements such as a cozy cocoon where children with autism (and others) can retreat from the crowd
  • A large, cable jungle gym that spins
  • A merry-go-round that can accommodate two wheelchairs and a net swing to provide extra support
  • A slide where two can ride side-by-side, accessed by a climbing slope rather than steps
  • A swing designed so two can ride face-to-face
  • Activity panels and musical instruments.

On Thursday, late in the afternoon, a crew of volunteers from our Missoula bank joined in the efforts digging post holes, deconstructing portions of the old structure, building new steps and a lucky few were assigned the task of recreating art from the build 17 years ago. All-in-all nearly 1,500 volunteers are helping with the efforts, many in the pouring rain, and the dragon will be saved for children of future generations to enjoy.

Stockman Volunteer Stockman Volunteer Stockman Volunteer

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Small Towns. Big Hearts! Part 3

Small Towns. Big Hearts. (Part 3)

Janine Merrill

Janine Merrill, Marketing Officer

Post written by Janine Merrill, Marketing Officer

Well, folks – this is the third and final installment of Small Towns. Big Hearts!

(Click here to read Part 1. And click here to read Part 2.)

It’s been a wonderful journey exploring the smallest towns where Stockman Bank has branches. Here are the final two “Bigs of the Smalls!” (Did you guess the right towns?)

WIBAUX – population 589

Located on the eastern edge of the state along the North Dakota border and an exit off I-94, Wibaux is the county seat of Wibaux County.

Coming into town, travelers are greeted with a tin man sculpture. It’s just one of many interesting items located around town.

Wibaux-Tin Man

Originally named at different times (Keith, Beaver, and Mingusville), the town is named after prominent local cattle rancher Pierre Wibaux, who immigrated to the area from France.

Wibaux Statue

Wibaux became a major cattle shipping center for the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Many of the cattle came from the infamous Theodore Roosevelt ranches near Medora, North Dakota. Several cattle drives of the 1880’s passed by Wibaux on their way from Texas to the northern ranges.

The Pierre Wibaux House Museum complex is a popular tourist attraction and tells the story of Pierre Wibaux and his life.

The museum houses farm and household exhibits of early settlers. It also includes Indian artifacts and an old-fashioned barbershop, livery stable, a railroad caboose, and gardens.

The Centennial Car Museum, a railroad car, was on display at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City.

Home to the Class C Wibaux Longhorns, the community is steeped in a rich tradition of high school sports including football, volleyball, basketball and track.

During any given week of the year with Montana 8-man football, there’s always a good chance that the Longhorns will be sitting at the top of the polls!

According to Stockman Bank Branch Manager Wanda Van Vleet, the town really comes alive for game day to support “the Horns!”!

Wibaux Group

TERRY – population 605

Last, but certainly not least, is Terry. Beautifully situated off I-94 between Miles City and Glendive, Terry is the county seat of Prairie County.

Terry Sign

The site where Terry is located was first called Joubert’s Landing. This was in recognition of a man who built a supply point along the Yellowstone River for freighters traveling from Bismarck to Miles City.

It was renamed Terry in 1881 when the Northern Pacific Railway’s transcontinental rail line arrived. It was named after Alfred Howe Terry, a General in the Union Army who commanded an 1876 expedition to the area.

The Terry Badlands and the Evelyn Cameron Museum attract visitors from all over the world each year. Evelyn Cameron was a photographer who documented her life as a pioneer near Terry from the 1890’s onward.

Evelyn Cameron

Her work includes photos of settlers in Eastern Montana. In addition, there are photos of cowboys, sheepherders, and many other scenarios of life back in the day.

The Terry Badlands Trails is also a huge scenic attraction.

Several events are held in Terry each year according to Stockman Bank Operations Officer, Cindy Kiosse.

The 4th of July is a huge celebration in terms of activities at the local park and around town. Additionally, the Terry Yippee Community Appreciation Day and class reunions are local favorites.

Terry Veteran's Park

The Prairie County Fair is held each summer and draws people from all over.

The Prairie County Hospital Foundation’s “Fun for All” fundraiser is another big event that raises funds for hospital improvements and the medical scholarship fund.

Terry Group

As in all small towns, the schools and sports teams play a large role in the town’s culture. Interestingly, Terry is in a co-op with Dawson County High School in Glendive for Class A football. However, they remain the Terry Terriers for all other sports- competing as a District 4C school.


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this three-part series on our smallest town banks as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Small town life in Montana is alive and well and worth the time to experience.

Next time you’re traveling along I-94, I-90, I-15, Highway 80, 87 or any other Montana Highway, take some time to exit and explore the beauty, uniqueness and most importantly the people who are the heart of small towns in Montana!

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Small Towns. Big Hearts. (Part 2)

Janine Merrill Post written by Janine Merrill, Marketing Officer

This is the second installment of Small Towns. Big Hearts! (Click here to read Part 1.) Follow along on our journey of the wonderful and smallest towns that Stockman Bank has branches in. Below is a look at the next three towns under 1000 in population and what makes each so unique and special! 

Hysham – population 312

Dubbed by the Hysham Chamber of Commerce as “Montana’s Hidden Treasure,” Hysham is the county seat of Treasure County and is bordered just north of the Yellowstone River and to the south by beautiful rolling hills.

Hysham Group

It sits approximately 77 miles East of Billings along I-94.  With parks, restaurants, shopping, a museum and theatre, Hysham offers residents and visitors anything they could need.

Hysham Yucca Theatre

Hysham Pirate Statues

Additionally, the area is rich with public recreation sites that offer fishing, boating, hunting and more. Ag is the backbone of this community.  Along with raising cattle, farmers grow sugar beets, corn, grain and lentils.

One of the main events in Hysham is the annual Harvest-Time Scarecrow Contest sponsored by Stockman Bank. Normally held in conjunction with a home football game, community members and businesses come together to create scarecrows which are then auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Hysham scarecrow

Money raised is donated to community projects and organizations. Other Hysham events include a big 4th of July Celebration, StreetFest and Lions Club Fly-In Breakfast as well as swimming in their beautiful new community swimming pool that opened in 2015.

Hysham Pool

Hysham competes as Class C and is now in a sports co-op with nearby Custer for all sports. They are known as the Custer-Hysham Rebels!

Go Rebels! - Blue & Gold

Stanford – population 401

Nestled at the base of the Little Belt Mountains and located in the heart of Charlie Russell country, Stanford is in the middle of the state between Lewistown and Great Falls.

Stanford Group

Stanford is the county seat of Judith Basin County and is home to the CM Russell Stampede Rodeo and Quick Draw events held annually on the second weekend in July.

Stanford Welcome Banner

According to Powell Becker, Stockman Bank Stanford President, and Stampede Club Treasurer, this event draws hundreds of people from all over.

Folks are able to view and purchase beautiful and unique art pieces by well-known artists, savor a community BBQ, and take in the music on Saturday afternoon and street dance in the evening as well as the PRCA rodeo on Sunday. All funds raised by the Stampede Club are donated back to community groups and organizations.

The downtown and surrounding areas of the town are beautifully decorated each summer with pots and arrangements of colorful flowers and plants, courtesy of the Stanford Beautification Committee.

Stanford New Park

The organization also puts on the famous Scarecrow Festival held in the fall that attracts many people to Stanford to view the scarecrow creations, take in the craft fair and sample the many homemade chilis for lunch!

In addition, a major fundraiser called “The Red Hot Blast” is held in February of each year for Valentine’s Day. People attending are wined and dined as they bid on art, silent auction items, and spin the big wheel for prizes!

Stanford Barber Shop-Scarecrow

When in Stanford, head downtown and tour the historic Basin Trading Company building that houses the infamous “white wolf” and other historic area artifacts. Pictures from “back in the day” are hung throughout.  Different shops and a delicatessen/café are also located inside.

Stanford Basin Trading Bldg

As with other Montana small towns, high school sports are a huge part of the community. Previously well-known as the Stanford Wolves, Stanford is now in a sports coop with the nearby towns of Denton and Geyser for all Class C girls and boys sports, and is known as the DGS Bearcats!

Stanford Bearcats logo.

Worden – population 506

Worden is located in Yellowstone County approximately 24 miles east of Billings and is part of the Huntley Project, an irrigation district established by the United States Irrigation district along with Ballantine, Huntley, and Pompey’s Pillar.

Worden SB Building

Established in 1907, irrigating area farmland from the water of the Yellowstone River transformed the area into an agricultural district. It attracted immigrants from all over – many from Germany.

Worden Railroad Tracks

According to Melisha Williams, CSR Supervisor for Stockman Bank in Worden, there are several fun activities held in the community each year.

Homesteader Days put on by the local Lions Club is held in July of each year.  They have a parade, big outdoor concert, food, vendors and lots of kids’ games which draw people in from all over.

Worden Library

Every year, the entire community gets together for a community clean-up day. The boulevard along the highway by the Worden entrance, and around the town and business areas, get a thorough cleaning.  Afterward, the local FFA chapter serves food for the clean-up crew.

Worden Main Street

Closer to fall and usually on a Friday before the first home football game, Stockman Bank hosts a big community tailgate/BBQ.

Worden Group photo 082018

Worden is home to the Huntley Project School System which consists of an elementary, junior high, and high school. Known as the Red Devils, Huntley Project is a Class B school.

Worden School Sign

Stay tuned for Part 3 coming soon, where we’ll explore the “bigs” of the smalls!  Can you guess which two towns are up next????

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Small Towns. Big Hearts! (Part 1)

Janine Merrill Post written by Janine Merrill, Marketing Officer

No doubt you’ve all seen the Stockman Bank ads where we advertise that we have 34 locations statewide.

But have you ever wondered where all of them are and how big the towns are that they’re located in?

In this three-part series, I will introduce you to the seven smallest towns that Stockman Bank has branches in. Populations listed are based on the 2010 census.

They may be small but I can assure you they’re happening places. Each one embodies the beauty of what small-town life is like in Montana!

From the smallest to the largest of the smalls, here they are in pictures and with some fun facts for your enjoyment!

Richey – population 177

Richey is located in Dawson County, north of Glendive, and sits between two historic landmarks, the Missouri River and the Yellowstone River.

Richey Drone Photo 1

Fort Peck Lake is to the west and Lake Sakakawea to the east, so recreational opportunities are plentiful! Richey is known for significant cattle and sheep ranches as well as wheat, oats, and barley as the main crops grown there.

According to Jim Trotter, Stockman Bank Branch Manager in Richey, the summer months are full of activities.

Richey Group Crop Summer


Major events include the Richey Rodeo held the third Sunday in July and the annual Richey Car Show also held in July.

In the summer months, he said young and old alike can be seen eating delicious ice cream and treats at the Dip and Twist – an area favorite hangout!

Richey Dip & Twist Crop


Like so many other small towns, high school sports are a huge part of the community and, as you can guess, serve as the major social activity for folks.

Richey L&R Fusion 4

Richey is in a Class C sports coop with neighboring town Lambert, and the team name is the R&L Fusion for both boys and girls sports.

Geraldine – population 261

Beautifully situated in the middle of wheat country and at the base of the Highwood Mountains, Geraldine is a town in Chouteau County between Fort Benton and Stanford.

Geraldine Welcome Sign Crop 1

Geraldine was originally created as a stop on the Milwaukee Railroad and was thought to be named for Almira Geraldine Rockefeller the wife of William Rockefeller, who was the director of the railroad at the time, or her daughter, Ethel Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge.

The town’s wood-constructed railroad depot that was built in 1913 has been restored and now contains historical displays of the area’s history. The building that Stockman Bank is housed in was built in 1914 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Geraldine Bank Front Crop 2

Karen Fairbanks, CSR and Teller for the Geraldine Branch, noted that the building has always been an integral part of the community and even brings in tourists who are interested in the building’s intriguing and historically un-renovated architecture.

Geraldine Lobby Crop 3

Geraldine Group Crop 4

Fun activities to be enjoyed in Geraldine are the Geraldine Fun Days held in June of each year, and the annual dinner theatre put on each year by the Geraldine Action Committee.

A local Geraldine resident pens the story for the productions, the local bar and restaurant caters the meal, and the actors for the production are made up of community members.

This is truly a “community” activity and proceeds from the production go toward community projects. Class C sports are alive in Geraldine as well, with Geraldine being coop-ed with nearby Highwood for all sports.

The team is known as the Geraldine-Highwood “Rivals” – given that back in the day, these two towns were rivals in all competitions, the name certainly fits!

Geraldine Rival Logo Crop 5

And it certainly doesn’t get more “small town” than that!

Stay tuned for two more installments of “Small Towns. Big Hearts”. Can you guess which are the next towns to be showcased?

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