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Powder Magazine at Northern Rockies Heritage Center Campus

stone Powder Magazine

The powder magazine sits away from rest of the military buildings on the southern outskirts of Fort Missoula not far from the Bitterroot River. (See the Fort Missoula Map.) This original building in the fort is the second oldest, contemporary with the log noncommissioned officers' quarters finished before it in the same year, 1878.

The Seventh Infantry built the powder magazine at a cost of $450 out of native field stone quarried at nearby "McCauley's Bluff." Volunteers recently restored the roof over the original larch beams which still look like new.

A powder magazine was typically built close enough to the military complex for the guards to keep watch over it, yet as far as away as practical for the safe storage of the ammunitions and small arms. Besides the munitions, it held the target frames and empty boxes which were accountable items. This powder magazine is small, intended for the the initial two-company post.

The Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History (RMMMH) leases the powder magazine from NRHC. RMMMH Executive Director Tate Jones and board member Kermit Edmunds explained their vision for exhibits within the building. Plans for exhibits include reproductions of the kind of equipment that would have been stored there. Another exhibit will tell about Horace Bivens, whose signature and rifle serial number can be found inside the building on the metal sheathing. Bivens was an enlisted Buffalo Soldier whose service included the all black cavalry and fighting in the Spanish American War. He achieved the noncommissioned officer Post Ordnance Sergeant rank in charge of the supplies in the powder magazine. He also distinguished himself as a national revolver and carbine marksmanship champion, proudly wearing his many awards.

Another "signature" at the powder magazine speaks for itself. Sgt. Bozo, a bygone post mascot dog, left his paw prints on the sidewalk.