History Tours at the Great Falls Highland Cemetery

    Awakening the Dead Tour

    By Suzanne Waring

    An event packed with Montana history will be held at the Great Falls Highland Cemetery during the “Waking the Dead” tours held on Sunday, June 25, at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

    On a tour you will have an opportunity to listen to Montana pioneers—like Paris Gibson, founder of Great Falls—portrayed by actors dressed in early-day regalia. They’ll be stationed near the pioneer’s grave, and, when “awakened,” they’ll tell their story, giving participants a view of early day life in north central Montana.

    Tour visitors can either walk or ride hay wagons on the designated route. A host guides each wagon and presents general historical information.

    Highland Cemetery, located south of the city limits, was designated by Gibson and fellow residents as the community’s cemetery. Unlike many towns where the cemetery is overseen by city government, Highland Cemetery is presently operated by a private trust and governed by a board of directors. It is located on high ground, protecting it from flooding.

    Visitors will appreciate the splendor of the Highwood, Little Belt, and Big Belt Mountains.

    Early on, the Highland Cemetery hilltop bore prairie grass swept by the prevailing southwest winds.

    Shrubs and watered lawns added give a good percentage of the cemetery a verdant, peaceful appearance.
    The cemetery has several sections: the old Highland Cemetery, the veterans’ section where Confederate and Union soldiers are buried aside one another, and the present cemetery.

    Attend this summer on June 25 by purchasing a ticket for a “Waking the Dead” tour. Tickets cost $15 to walk along with the wagons or $20 to ride. Each year this event is sold out both for those walking or riding, so get your tickets early by purchasing them at Kaufman’s Menswear, 411 Central Avenue. If you live out of town, call Susie McIntyre at the Great Falls Public Library at 406-453-0349 or email her at [email protected]. Organized parking is conveniently located close to the beginning of the tour. Wearing a hat is recommended. MSN