Previously Recorded Site Now Appears to be Missing

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Acton Recreation Area
A steep ridge-top mountain bike path runs through the Acton Recreation Area north of Billings. The site is proposed for a mountain biking area, but hundreds of years ago the site was home to a variety of unusual log structures built by American Indians. Photo: JAMES WOODCOCK/Gazette Staff

A series of American Indian wooden shelters located about 20 miles northwest of Billings, Montana has been discovered missing from the BLM landscape where they once stood.

The structures had been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. BLM staff also detailed the wooden structures in an environmental assessment for a proposed mountain-biking trail and noted that bikers should not pose any threat to cultural resources provided they remain on the designated trails.

Shereve-Bybee of the BLM has recently made many trips into the Acton Recreation Area in an attempt to re-locate the structures, but has yet to find them. She assumes that some may have been collected for firewood by campers or reused as fence posts.

One of the people who originally located and recorded the structures was amateur archaeologist and former board member and president of the Montana Historical Society, Stuart Conner. When Conner helped with the recordings, the site was named the Hoskins Basin Archaeological District. Another name, Canyon Village, has also been ascribed to the area.

The site contained two conical wooden shelters and three cribbed log structures (like a low log cabin). There was also a four-sided structure with sides of different lengths and was not constructed with any deference to compass direction.

The nomination form does note that the shelters were already beginning to deteriorate when written in the 1970s. The Archaeological District was created for the protection and preservation of the site from weathering, theft, and accident.

Sherve-Bybee said that the Acton Recreation Area would have traditionally been Crow tribal land, but the nearby Yellowstone River was a travel route used by many different tribes including the Shoshone, Blackfeet, and Sioux.

Read More: Old wooden Indian structures have disappeared

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