146 Years Later, Relics Still Turn Up at Famous MT Battlefield
Montanans have a bit of a love/hate relationship with tourists that typically flood our state each summer. We enjoy the money they pump into our local economy, yet we're not exactly sad when they leave. Tourists provide a certain level of entertainment for us as well. Perhaps another idiot got gored by a bison, or maybe they've left a hilarious bad review of a Montana attraction. For example, in this Trip Advisor review of Lewis and Clark Caverns, a visitor wrote,
The experience at the cavern is just plain awful. There are no positives in the whole thing. When you buy tickets, you are given a list of things you can't do, and it's just about everything. It's no. No. No. No. no. Ad nauseum. Then, you take a hike three quarters of a mile uphill which, while not being especially steep, is not for small children or older adults.
Sometimes those annoying tourists actually do the right thing.
It happened this week at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument when tourists discovered a small war relic from the historic battle and instead of keeping it, they reported the find to employees.
A Civil War-era button was found and turned into park officials.
In a post on Facebook, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument shared a picture of the dime-sized brass cuff button. I spoke with Stan McGee, Acting Chief of Interpretation, Historic Weapons Instructor, and Regional Historic Weapons Inspector at the monument who told me the 150-year-old button was reported by three different tourists. It was found lying on a trail about a dozen feet from Battlefield Road.
Relics are discovered periodically at the Little Bighorn Battlefield.
McGee said that people still occasionally discover items left over from the historic battle between the Lakota and Cheyenne vs. Custer and his men. Thick prairie grasses cover most of the site, effectively hiding any antiquities that remain. After a wildfire burns through the area (like those that occurred in the 1980s and 90s) new discoveries have been found. He theorized that a recent thunderstorm may have exposed the newly found button, which could have been deposited where it was found during the construction of a service road a number of years ago.
The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is open year-round. McGee reported that numbers have been slightly down this year, most likely from tourists rearranging travel plans after spring flooding closed multiple Yellowstone National Park entrances. Taking items from National Parks is a crime and could result in fines and/or jail time.