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Tech Student Reconstructs History


This past summer, Highlands College Historic Preservation student, Paul Hart, enjoyed an internship in which he researched and accurately reconstructed parts of the Richards Cabin at the Nevada City Living History Museum. Working in conjunction with the Montana Heritage Commission, Paul worked a total of 177 hours on the project.

"It was fascinating to work on a building constructed in the early 1860s and which had endured various additional 'repairs' over the years," said Paul. "Some parts of the building had been in contact with the bare earth and they had completely decomposed and those logs were just missing! I was amazed that the structure was still standing."

The Richards Cabin has an infamous place in the colorful history of Montana vigilante justice. The story is that a vigilante posse captured George Ives for the murder of Nicholas Tbalt. A large crowd was present for Ives' trial and sentencing, which took place outside with two wagons serving as the judge's bench and witness box. The roof of the Richards Cabin served as a sort of balcony seating for some of the locals watching the trial. At the time, Montana was not yet a state or even a territory and thus, there was no "official law." Ives was hanged almost immediately.

"Montana Tech has a strong belief in providing our students as much 'hands-on' experience as possible," said Bill Ryan, Highlands College Chair of the Trades & Technical Department. "Paul's internship experiece was so successful that the Montana Heritage Commission is asking for more student interns in the future to assist them in their valuable preservation work. Of course, we will be happy to oblige. We have more work planned for the museum."