8-Ton Rock Centerpiece of New Museum Exhibit

Posted May 14, 2020

This article originally appeared in the Ravalli Republic.  Written by Perry Backus.

To fully understand the significance of Ravalli County Museum’s newest exhibit, visitors will need to come armed with imagination and a willingness to look skyward.

The 8-ton rock that was carefully lowered into place on the museum’s lawn Monday is there to take them on a journey thousands of years back in time.

The first thing they might do is look toward the towering Bitterroot Range just west of Hamilton.

It was once home to the huge boulder that geologists call a glacial erratic. It found its way to the valley floor through the upheaval caused by glaciers more than 15,000 years ago.

And then for thousands of years more, its home was the bottom of the massive Glacial Lake Missoula.

To get an idea of the depth of the lake that would have covered Hamilton back then, visitors can lift their eyes to the top of the museum’s cupola and then imagine six of those buildings stacked upon each other.

Ravalli County Museum Executive Director Tamar Stanley is planning for a mid-June opening of the new permanent outdoor Glacial Ice Age Exhibit.

Three years in the making, the exhibit will include a series of informational panels that will explain the origin, lifespan and the immense impact Glacial Lake Missoula had on the Bitterroot Valley.