With its long and storied past, the Sacajawea Hotel steeps your stay in history. From the days far before the hotel was built, all the way through the structure’s century of life, you can trace the lifeblood of the wild west locale in every board and beam of this historical treasure.
You can appreciate the historical vibrance of the space while you luxuriate in the decadent comfort of the updated hotel, which holds onto its old-fashioned charm with the added touch of the contemporary amenities you need.
Early Days in the Region
The Native American tribes of the area enjoyed the wilds of the Missouri Headwaters for millennia before European explorers and trappers arrived. The hotel’s namesake, Sacagawea of the Shoshone tribe, traveled through the Three Forks area as an interpreter with the Corps of Discovery as Lewis and Clark headed west in search of a Northwest Passage, hoping (in vain) to connect the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean via an interior waterway.
You can explore more for yourself at nearby Missouri Headwaters State Park, where interpretive displays delve into the history of the native peoples in this part of Montana and offer more on the Lewis and Clark expedition as it passed through the mighty headwaters of the Missouri River.
Growth of the Railroad
As the railroad thrust its way across the continent, the town of Three Forks boomed. Although settlements in the area existed from the early part of the 1800s, the town was officially founded in 1908 by John Q. Adams, a prosperous agent of the Milwaukee Railroad.
Building lots in the heart of the township sold for as much as $1,250 at auction in 1908, bringing together an assortment of more than 800 people in the new town. It boasted a newspaper, hotel, eight restaurants, and eight saloons in the early days.
A Hotel is Born
The luxurious Sacajawea Hotel we know today sprang from a private residence—Madison House—originally built in 1882. John Q. Adams purchased the building and enlisted a contractor to relocate the structure for him, intending to place it in the site where it stands today.
Unfortunately for Mr. Adams, his contractor suffered from a gambling problem. Only part of the way through the move, the man lost his entire team of horses in a poker game gone wrong, and the move paused, leaving Madison House stranded halfway to its new home. Fortunately, the team’s new owner was willing to allow a rematch, and the contractor won his horse team back in time to finish the move.
After the Madison House arrived at its present location, Mr. Adams hired a Bozeman architect, Fred Wilson, to draft up a design for the remainder of the building. He brought together the stately structure that you will recognize as the white clapboard hotel sitting in the heart of Three Forks today.
A New Chapter Begins
After years of uncertainty and hardships for the historic property, the Sacajawea found its windows boarded and its doors barred in 2001. Eight years later, in 2009, the Folkvord family acquired the hotel, intending to restore and nurture the historic property back to its past splendor. After eight months, they succeeded in renovating the 29 lavish guest rooms and reinvigorating the property with its old sparkle.
If you enjoyed this blog, take a look at some of our other related articles:
- Sacajawea: Better than a Bed and Breakfast
- Headwaters Family-Friendly Summer Itinerary
- Why a Sacajawea Cottage Makes for a Perfect Weekend Retreat