The Huntley Irrigation Project has been irrigating the lush, green fields of the farms and ranches of the Yellowstone Valley since June 26, 1907. Established by the United States Bureau of Reclamation, the project was initially made up of European and Russian families looking for religious freedom and land they could own. The families who homesteaded the project were diverse, including people who immigrated to Montana from Sweden, Mexico, Norway, Germany, Russia, Italy, the Southern United States, and the Eastern United States. Today, the Huntley Irrigation Project is a fully operational and utilitarian relic of Montana’s immigration heritage. While much has been written about the Huntley Irrigation Project by historians and other scholars, there are few sources that feature the voices of the homesteaders themselves. MHF stepped in to help fund the Huntley Project Museum collect oral histories of the homesteaders’ descendants.
The Huntley Project Museum of Irrigated Agriculture is gathering stories from children and grandchildren of the original homesteaders on the Huntley Irrigation Project. The oral histories project seeks to document memories, family songs, traditions, photographs, and original land patents from homesteader descendants while we still can, as most of the participants are 95 to 103 years old. These memories provide a comprehensive, organic, and humanizing picture of a thriving industry and the people who built it. Through this project, original stories and histories in the words of the people who were a part of it are available to the public.