When Chief Joseph and the Nez Percé  retreated across Montana in 1877, Missoula  citizens asked the federal government for protection from the Indians, and Fort Missoula was hastily established just southwest of town. During the Second World War Fort Missoula was used as a detention center for Italian workers, including merchant seamen, World’s Fair employees, and the crew of an Italian luxury liner seized in the Panama Canal.
Two original buildings (a stone powder magazine and an officers’ quarters) remain from the 1877 fort site and are now part of the Fort Missoula Historical Museum (406/728-3476, www.fortmissoulamuseum.org , Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sun. noon–5 p.m. summer, Tues.–Sun. noon–5 p.m. winter, $3 adult, $2 senior, $1 student), which contains exhibits of local history.
Other buildings of interest have been relocated to the fort, including an old church, a schoolhouse, and a Forest Service lookout tower. The wide boulevards, green lawns, and white military buildings now evoke a real sense of history.
To get there, take Highway 93 south to Reserve Street, turn right, and follow signs at the junction with South Avenue.