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Montana Soldiers Home

This institution which the state has erected for the service of soldiers, occupies 147 acres of beautiful and productive land on a charmingly picturesque plateau on the banks of Flathead river, two miles south of Columbia Falls in Flathead County. The land was given to the state as the site of the home by the citizens of Columbia Falls, and the state has erected on it two imposing brick structures suitable for the intended purpose. The main building is 80x40 feet in size, three stories high with basement and has an L 40x50 feet in dimensions. The hospital is of cottage design and appearance, with beds for fifteen patients on the first floor. The home has accommodations for from 80 to 100 soldier's and at present (1901) numbers sixty-five old veterans as its guests. The location is an admirable one, presenting to view miles of valley land stretching away to the south and west. The Flathead river turns in graceful curves from the very walls of the buildings to the north and south, while to the east and north the eternal mountains of the Kootenai range and the main range of the Rockies keep silent watch and ward over the institution nestling at their feet. The Cabinet and Mission ranges appear far away in the distance, either sharp and well defined in the clear air, or soft and blue under a delicate veil of mist. Nowhere is there the appearance of an "institution." It is, in looks and in fact, a pleasant hotel, heated by furnaces and equipped with all the modern improvements, among which a library of several hundred volumes is an interesting feature. A large acreage of land has already been devoted to crop culture, and in 1901 were here produced 468 bushels of wheat, forty tons of hay and all kinds of vegetables that are raised in the valley. A fine orchard of 400 fruit trees is not the least of the attractions of the place, while 250 North Carolina poplars line the long main avenue and are distributed about the grounds, adding much to the natural beauty of the approach.

In this home (a home in the truest sense of the word) is Captain Hilman the leading spirit. Tender-hearted as a child and lenient as a loving parent, he has won a warm place in the hearts of the inmates. The comrades are of such character and intelligence that the strict regulations so common in places of this kind are not so much in evidence here, but when the occasion arises the Captain is not wanting in the maintenance of proper discipline.

Source: Progressive Men of the State of Montana Vol. II 1901

Photo courtesy of Gayle Collins, hostess of the Flathead County MTGenWeb page

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