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Railroad museum, Fort Assinniboine group honored

The Fort Assinniboine Preservation Association and the Frank DeRosa Railroad Museum have been honored for their efforts to preserve Hill County history.

The two groups were given the 2013 Preservation Month Awards by the Havre/Hill County Historic Preservation Commission at Monday night's City Council meeting.

Preservation Officer Becki Miller, speaking for the preservation commission, praised the museum for helping to preserve Havre's railroad history, which has been a key part of Havre since its founding.

The museum opened in January 1999, and its founder, Frank DeRosa was active in collecting items from area railroad enthusiasts to create displays.

About 7,500 visitors tour the facility annually, she said.

The Fort Assinniboine association was celebrating its 25th anniversary, she noted.

More than $400,000 in grants have been secured to help rehabilitate the fort since then, she told council.

She said the dedicated volunteers have logged countless hours in preservation efforts and in maintenance in the last quarter century.

The association provides daily tours of the 19th-century fort which was built to protect white settlers from Indians. Several buildings remain standing, and efforts have been concentrated on rehabilitating them.

The fort has also taken part in the annual Living History event when area residents and visitors come out for tours and special reenactments and other programs on area history.

FAPA President Gary Wilson thanked the preservationists for the award.

Efforts have been aimed at "keeping the buildings from falling down," he said.

"It's been a slow effort. It's been like a turtle," he said. "But in the long run, the turtle wins."

"It's one of the largest and most strategic forts in the United States," he said. "And it's in our backyard."


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