Road to the Buffalo project receives boost

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The Noxon Senior Citizens (NSCI) along with the Women for a Better Sanders County (WBSC) were recently awarded a grant from the Montana Office of Tourism.

The $9,150 in funding is to help pay for interpretive signs on the Road to the Buffalo project that will be displayed along Highway 200 throughout the western side of the county.

Local communities have rallied behind the groups throughout las fall to help fundraise the money needed to help them qualify for the grant.

In order to generate the necessary matching funds, organization members canvassed County businesses seeking donations.

The community response was tremendous, they said. Items and cash donations were used to support the Road to the Buffalo Festival fundraiser held in Noxon’s Bicentennial Park last June.

From kindergarten to grade 12, students across the county where encouraged to take part in the event by constructing a buffalo essay for the older students and a coloring contest for the younger students.

The local fundraising effort combined with the two-to-one matching tourism grant totals at almost $14,000. The final amount was sufficient to enable the NSCI and WBSC to complete the design, fabrication and installation of four interpretive signs at key roadside turnouts along Highway 200.

“We could not have been successful without the strong support of the people and businesses of Sanders County and by the many out-of-area supporters and visitors who attended the Noxon fundraiser,” said representative for both NSCI and WBSC Linda Haywood.

According to the NSCI, the original trail followed the Clark Fork from Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho to the horse plains where the town of Plains is located. From there it generally followed Lynch Creek to Rainbow Lake (aka Dog Lake) then ran along Camas Creek to the Flathead River near Perma. Signs along the route were installed in 2015 and were funded as part of MDOT’s Community Transportation Enhancement Projects (CTEP).

David Thompson of the North West Company mapmaker and trader, referred to the well-worn Indian road he followed up the Clark Fork River as the “Saleesh Road to the Buffalo”. The road is shown on early maps as the Kootenai Trail.

Members of both groups felt there was a strong need for more detailed signs to highlight the county’s historical trail. This were the groups came together to design, and develop the new interpretive signs successfully funded by the grant.

Road to the Buffalo travel brochures are available throughout Sanders County at visitor centers and online with visitor information at the Sanders County Community Development website, Montana Tour 200.

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