Pictograph CaveWPA workers gathered outside of Pictograph Cave during excavation
Formerly known as ‘The Indian Caves’ or ‘The Indian Ghost Caves’ around Billings, MT, this pre-historic site has become one of the most visited state parks in Montana. Artifacts dating back several thousand years were found here in 1937. A professional excavation was overseen by William Mulloy and Larry Loendorf with work performed by the Works Progress Administration workers. Over 30,000 artifacts were recovered, but many of them lost as the site was abandoned by the WPA in 1941. Pictographs are what the site is known for today; of the 106 originally recorded images, about 10-20 are visible today. The site became a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and became Pictograph Cave State Park in 1991.
“After amateur archaeologists discovered the Pictograph Caves in 1937, WPA funds controlled by the highway department combined with the efforts of local organizations to buy the site, excavate the caves and build a tiny museum on the grounds to attract visitors.
Vandals burned the museum to the ground in 1945, but, in August, the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department plans to start construction on a new visitor center.”
-A Preliminary Historical Outline for the Northwestern Plains: William Mulloy, University of Wyoming Publications, July 15th 1958.
-Rock Art Research in Pictograph cave (24YL1), Yellowstone County, Montana: Larry Loendorf and J. Claire Dean, Research completed for The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, 1993.
-Find Caves: Billings Gazette, July 6th, 1937.
-Indian Caves near Billings Furnish 30,000 Artifacts; Mulloy Sorts, Analyzes Them for Museum Display: Billings Gazette, March 16th, 1941.
-I have worked at Pictograph Cave State Park as an AmeriCorps Volunteer for 5 months (Holly Walker, submitter)
"Traces of New Deal remain in Montana," Billings Gazette, May 31, 2008
Project originally submitted by Holly Walker on November 5, 2014.
Additional contributions by Evan Kalish.
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