Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

Museum and research center closed for renovations. For more info, call (406) 444-2694.

Montana: Stories of the Land

Companion Website and Online Teacher's Guide

Chapter 9 - Railroads Link Montana to the Nation, 1881-1915

Educator Resources

Educational Trunks

  • East Meets West: The Chinese Experience in Montana from the Montana Historical Society. This trunk explores the lives of the Chinese who came to Montana, the customs that they brought with them to America, how they contributed to Montana communities, and why they left.


  • Inspired by reading specialist Tammy Elser, who was in turn inspired by SKC graduate Taylor Crawford, we've created a "Takeaway" bookmark for every chapter of Montana: Stories of the Land. Before starting a chapter, print and cut out these bookmarks and distribute them to your students. Ask them to use the Takeaway to summarize the GIST of what they learn from reading assigned sections of the chapter. Remind them that they don't have much room, so they'll need to think before they write down the most important idea they want to take away from the section. Learn a little more about the GIST strategy.

  • Even though we've created Takeaways for every chapter, we don't recommend you have your students complete a Takeaway for every section of every chapter they read. That would be exceedingly tedious. However, used appropriately, they can be a useful tool for encouraging reflection and teaching students how to summarize information.

Websites and Online Lesson Plans

Videos or DVDs

  • From the Far East to the Old West: Chinese and Japanese Settlers in Montana, Mansfield Center for Pacific Affairs - 29 minutes. (Check your library. Copies of the video and study guide were distributed free of charge to all Montana public schools.)

  • "The Grandest Enterprise under God," Episode 5 of the PBS series The West is available for purchase- 84 minutes. (Note: This focuses on the construction of the transcontinental railroad, which did NOT pass through Montana.) Available for purchase via an internet search.

  • American Experience: Transcontinental Railroad - 80 minutes.(Again: this film is NOT specific to Montana.) Available for purchase via an internet search.

Possible Fieldtrips: View the Map

Alignment to ELA Common Core Standards

Alignment to Content Standards and Essential Understandings Regarding Montana Indians (EU)

Tests and Answer Keys

Capital Restaurant Menu
Capital Restaurant Menu detail, 1897, Ephemera Files, Montana Historical Society Library
Railroad poster
Northern Pacific Railroad Poster, Montana Historical Society Museum 1980.61.209
Railroad Workers
Milwaukee railroad workers, 1910, photo by Evelyn Cameron, Montana Historical Society Photo Archives PAc 90-87.59-7
Elephants on parade
Elephants on parade, Billings, 1912, Montana Historical Society Photo Archives PAc 96-83.6