Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Anthropology (Cultural Heritage Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Kelly Dixon

Commitee Members

Anna Prentiss, Richmond Clow


Boomtown, National Register, Placer


University of Montana


This thesis presents a study of Nevada City, Montana to examine the eligibility potential for a historic district nomination to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Founded in 1863, Nevada City experienced a gold mining heyday from 1863-1869. As easily attainable placers diminished and strikes were reported elsewhere, the town was nearly abandoned. Many of the remaining buildings were demolished, used for firewood, or salvaged by Nevada City's remaining residents. Senator Charles Bovey began preservation work in 1944 at nearby Virginia City, Montana. Bovey had already amassed several buildings and countless artifacts that he had on display at the Great Falls Fairgrounds as the "Old Town" exhibit. In the late 1950s Bovey was asked to remove his exhibit from the fairgrounds. He purchased several acres of land containing what remained of Nevada City and began relocating buildings to Nevada City's vacant lots in 1958. By the end of the Bovey era (1958-1978) the museum contained over 100 structures. The collection of original, relocated, and reconstructed buildings were intended to represent the 1860s-1900 period of Montana’s history. In 1997 the State of Montana purchased Bovey's Nevada City and Virginia City properties and artifacts to continue the preservation and tourist legacy begun in 1944. Research methods for this project required the analysis of books, articles, archaeology reports, and primary historical documents. This research was conducted to place the outdoor museum within its historical context and to explore Nevada City's NRHP eligibility. Historic contexts associated with Nevada City include nineteenth-century westward migration in the American Mining West, with subthemes including historic mining and related commerce, along with mining ghost town tourism. NRHP Criteria A, B, C, D, and Criterion Considerations B and G, were found to be applicable for eligibility determination. A successful district nomination for Nevada City’s eligible buildings will include a categorized building list for the entire outdoor museum, as well as clearly defined historic context and applicable NRHP criteria and considerations. Ineligible buildings will be included as non-contributing entities, with the understanding that as they reach their 50 year mark (in age or in situ) they will be considered contributing.



© Copyright 2007 Lara Briann Feider