Pioneer Trails Regional Museum

The museum is a regional research and repository for history from within 100 miles of Bowman, ND. We have departments active in Archaeological, Genealogical, and Paleontological research as well as collections relating to local history. The museum is one of the major cultural centers in Bowman and the surrounding area. We routinely showcase local artistic talents, traveling displays, and sponsor guest speakers on many topics. Check with the museum administration desk for the current schedule of events.

News & Events

Women in Health

This week’s Women’s History Month post is not about one particular woman, but a group of women who helped keep Bowman healthy and well-taken care of before the Tri-State Hospital was built, or even conceived.

Sometime in 1909, Bowman’s first hospital was built. It was opened by Doctors George and David Baker, but was taken over by Miss Callie Pruett when the doctors left town. Pruett operated this first hospital for several years.

In 1920, Mrs. Minnie Norem operated a maternity home out of her house, and in 1928 another hospital was opened on Main Street by Doctors Cornelius and Lemiuex, which was run by Martha Meyer. This hospital lasted only a year, and was closed in July 1929. In August of that year, another hospital was opened in the Lowden home, and Violet Kline was in charge. She operated it for about six months, then Helen Kaiser, a registered nurse from Miles City took over.’

Martha Meyer took over running another hospital in 1932, above the Bennett Drug Store. From 1933-1935, Martha Sather and Myrtle Heid (both registered nurses) operated a hospital out of the William Austin house. Following that (from 1936 and several years after), Bowman’s health was looked after by Mrs. Jake Messer, Mrs. Manning Newstrom, and Mrs. Gerald Padgett, who all take maternity cases into their own homes. In 1951, the Tri-State Hospital was opened, and the need for house hospitals disappeared. It should be noted, however, that the first operators of the Tri-State Hospital were The Benedictine Sisters, who ran the hospital for the first five years of its operation.

It’s easy to take for granted the women who worked so hard to keep residents of Bowman healthy for so many years, since they weren’t doctors. Nevertheless, their contribution to the area is significant and they should not be forgotten. 

In honor of Women's History Month, each week of March we will feature a brief story on a woman (or women) in history with a connection to our local area. If you know of someone we should write about, or would like more information, call or stop by the museum and let us know!

  • Anthropology
  • Archeology
  • Genealogy
  • Astronomy
  • Botany
  • Local History
  • Paleontology


This region of the country has a wealth of fascinating Indian history and culture. Sitting Bull, Four Bears, Running Antelope, George Armstrong Custer, General Crook, Buffalo Bird Woman, Rain-in-the-Face, these are just some of the famous names that played a role in the drama of life here. On display is the beauty, power, and spirit of the legendary tribes of this area. Through historic and contemporary photographs, stone and bone artifacts, rock art images, plant samples, quotations, art prints, text, animal hides and skulls, feathers, and beadwork, their compelling story is told.

The Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa were well known for their gardens, in which they grew squash, melon, sunflower, corn, and beans using tools made of stone or bone. Other stone artifacts include projectile points from Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Late Archaic, Middle Woodland, Late Woodland, Plains Village and up to the Historic Period.

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The Archaeology Department is responsible for the collection, interpretation and curation of artifacts and information pertaining to the history of the area. The Archaeology Department continues to develop and maintain both a research document collection and an artifact collection. These are available to the general public and research institutions. Please contact the Archaeology Department for more information

Access to the collections is limited and all interested individuals or institutions are asked to contact the Archaeology Department about your requests, prior to arrival. All requests for access to the research documents and / or collections must be received in writing no later than 30 days prior to arrival. Please submit your request directly to the Archaeology Department briefly stating the intended purpose for the visit, what document or item(s) you wish to view, and your planned arrival date. An Archaeology Department representative will be in contact with you. Requests received by e-mail, fax, or letterhead are all appropriate.

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The Genealogy Department is one of the newer departments and is still being developed. Our collections include a fairly extensive file of births, deaths, and marriages.  We have several cemetery records and numerous reference and local history books. We also have a microfilm/microfiche reader/printer and several rolls of film for research purposes. The films include a large number of the early newspaper files, and there is a paper archive of the first one hundred years of publication by the Bowman County Pioneer.

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Are you interested in the stars? Or do you find yourself looking up at the sky instead of in front of you? Come help us develop this department.

This department needs volunteers and people with an interest in the skys. Please contacts us to express an intrest.

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If you really want to see the prairie, you have to get out of your vehicle and walk upon it. So it is with our native plant gardens, and that is why they are called the Prairie Walk. It is one thing to read about a prairie, it is quite another to walk though one. Our mission with the Prairie Walk is to re-create a small sample of this shared natural heritage.

The Dakota prairies are the stuff of legend. Vast herds of buffalo, earth lodge villages, Sitting Bull and his Lakota warriors, cowboys, homesteaders, sheepherders, and pioneers all contributed to the rich and colorful history of this region. It was the prairie that drew them here, and it was the prairie that sustained them. In the course of settlement, the animals, the people, and the prairies themselves went through many changes. Today the prairie exists only in scattered remnants, and is much different from its original condition.

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Local History


Also on display are military uniforms and memorabilia with local connections from Calvary days, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. Currently there are plans to include the Vietnam War and Desert Storm as the display area is enlarged.

The Bowman County Historical and Genealogical Society published the book, A History of Bowman County 1907-2007, as part of the Bowman County Centennial in 2007.   An authentic sod house was constructed in the spring of 2006, located on the east museum grounds. 

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The demise of the dinosaurs and the changes in local paleoenvironments are just a couple of areas in which the Paleontology Department has been researching over the past decade.  This research is conducted in the rugged landscapes along the Little Missouri Badlands drainages in southwestern North Dakota.

The Badlands in the area represent the last geographical times from the Cretaceous Period, which was home to the dinosaurs, giant marine reptiles and extinct exotic plants.  Research teams associated with the museum have been working in these ancient environments collecting fossil vertebrates, invertebrates and plants to try to reconstruct what was present here million years ago.  As a result of these studies, clues are emerging as to how the plants and animals were interacting, how abundant they were and what the area was like when the meteor impact occurred on the Yucatan Peninsula at Chicxulub wiping out the dinosaurs.

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Winter Hours

10 am - 4 pm
Monday through Friday

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