Boulder Cemetery, Jefferson County, Montana

Boulder (population 1200 in 2020) is the seat of Jefferson County. Since the time of my historic preservation survey of Montana in 1984-1985, Boulder has lost about 200 residents (the state’s closure of the historic Montana Development Center a few years ago definitely didn’t help). But there remains a vibrancy and hope to the place, centered as it is within easy distance of a larger rural boom in Lewis and Clark, Silver Bow, and Gallatin counties.

Note the streetscape improvements as you enter Boulder from the north on Highway 69.
Jefferson County Courthouse, listed in the National Register.
The local heritage center in a stone building faced with brick.
The historic Northern Pacific Railroad depot still serving the community as a senior center.

The cemetery is on a hill overlooking the town with the entrance modern by a modern sign formed out of stones from the Boulder River. The view from the top of the cemetery provides a great overview of the town’s residential, commercial, and government areas.

Boulder Cemetery, looking southwest.

As observed in many other Montana cemeteries that date to the nineteenth century, the Boulder Cemetery has several family plots marked by Victorian posts and fence, even though over time some of the fencing may have been replaced by other wire panels.

McDonough family plot, c. 1891

The cemeteries have many Victorian-themed grave markers as the previous images have shown. The urn-topped marker for Michael Lynch, a native of Ireland who died in 1910, is an excellent example of Victorian grave art in the cemetery.

There are several historic markers for veterans of the Indian Wars of the 19th century, and a beautiful stone marker for John Norman, who died in a World War I training camp in 1918.

The Boulder Cemetery could be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places as a marker of early settlement and development of the town and for its cemetery art. But then a simple boulder marker tells of a more contemporary significance. The Boulder Women’s Club restored the cemetery from 1972-1976 as its contribution to the American Bicentennial commemoration. The Bicentennial saw thousands of history projects and events take place all over the nation. Here is a place that local women carried out a preservation project that clearly created a new place for community pride and identify, marking a unique and lasting contribution to the Bicentennial period. Impressive.

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