Restoration work at the 106-year-old jail at Fort Assinniboine outside of Havre is the latest in a series of projects designed to bring the fort to life.
The jail work was accomplished with a grant from the Montana Department of Commerce, said Gary Wilson, president of the Fort Assinniboine Preservation Association.
The jail was built in 1905, replacing the original jail, not too far away, he said.
The fort, one of the largest in the United States, has a number of buildings still standing, Wilson said. Efforts now are to stabilize the buildings, and if possible, like with the jail, to restore them.
The fort opened in 1879, and at various times in its history, was home of Lt. (later general) John "Black Jack" Pershing and the famed African-American Buffalo Soldiers.
Up to 750 soldiers were housed at the fort.
The fort has been successful in attracting some preservation grants over the years, Wilson said.
The preservation association is charged with stabilizing and upgrading the fort so that the area's rich history is preserved and to increase tourism in the area, he said.
A growing number of visitors tour the fort each year, he said. In part, he said, that is because the fort has linked up with "Old Forts Trail," a group of preserved forts extending north from Fort Benton to Fort Calgary.
History buffs are especially interested in touring the fort, he said. The fort lures them to the area because it is one of the largest in the nation, he said.
The fort has also been working with the Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump, the Blaine County Wildlife Museum and Havre Beneath the Streets to keep tourists in the area, he said.
"The recent upgrades at the buffalo jump have helped us," he said.
Often people stop in Havre to see the attractions as they are head to or from Glacier National Park, he said.
Having a 24-hour port established at Wild Horse would greatly increase the number of Canadian tourists in the area, he said.
The fort will once again take part in the annual Living History weekend on June 2, he said. Each of the area's historic attractions offer special programs that weekend, he said.
Living History weekend, the first weekend in June, usually attracts lots of area people to the fort, he said.
All historic attractions have special activities that weekend, he said, and plans are already under way for the 2012 events.
The rest of the time, most visitors are from out of the area, he said.