Musselshell Valley Historical Museum Expansion in Roundup

ROUNDUP — Roundup may not be Montana’s number one tourist destination, but exciting things are in the works with the potential to draw crowds from around the world.

The Musselshell Valley Historical Museum is filled from top to bottom with pieces of history. It has so much on display, it’s starting to run out of space.

The museum is filling up fast, thanks to Tom Hebert of the Earth Science Foundation.

Hebert’s youngest daughter wanted to dig for dinosaur fossils, so she researched how to make that happen. She ended up finding a man in South Dakota who agreed to get them out.

The first day, her daughter found a 4-1/2-inch T-Rex tooth and was hooked.

After a while of doing these digs just for fun, Hebert decided it was time for a change.

“I looked at my future wife and said, ‘You know what? I’m done,'” says Hebert. “I used to own an insurance agency and say, ‘I want to sell the agency, go back to school and make a living digging for dinosaurs,’ and she looked at me and said, ‘About time.’ So I went back to school and got a degree in geology.”

While in school, Hebert realized how many barriers there can be in education when it comes to research and access to materials and knowledge.

Even in higher education, it can be hard to learn hands-on if your school lacks resources, says Hebert.

“I decided to start the Earth Science Foundation on the premise of getting kids interested in science, helping college students who want to ask a question and their college may not have the resources or ability to help them” Hebert explains. “Bring them to us and we’ll make it happen.”

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Now, Hebert takes groups of all ages from all walks of life to “Dinosaur Digs,” at no cost to them. Veterans, school field trips, or even an adult who wants to learn more can join.

Hebert also educates the groups and allows them to work with the fossils they find.

“In fact, we give you the opportunity to hold a real dinosaur bone. Go ahead, hold on,” Hebert tells MTN News. “I want you to feel the weight, the sense of smallness, the humility, learning a different perspective than what we’re used to.”

Hebert and his team have already found more than 2,500 dinosaur fossils in Musselshell County this year.

Hebert partnered with the Musselshell Valley Historical Museum to put these fossils on display.

But they’re running out of space fast, so Hebert reached out to the board to get more space.

Hebert explains that the board said that if he could find the money, he could move on. So she applied to the Signal Peak Community Fund and received a grant for the museum.

That grant is now being used to add to the building to create more space.

But Hebert isn’t the only one making this happen.

John Chavez and Stephanie Graben own Pronto Construction in Roundup and have partnered with Hebert to make this project possible.

The husband and wife team have donated their time, complete equipment and materials for this project, all to help the community.

“The community has been good to us, so we’ve been trying to give back as much as we can to the kids and the community in general,” Chavez says.

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Adds Graben: “As long as the community wins, that’s all that matters.”

Graben said this museum expansion, along with the services provided by the Earth Science Foundation, are a great way to get kids off their screens.

Signal Peak, Gebhardt Sawmill and a local welder also deserve recognition for their contributions, Chavez explains.

Donations are always welcome at both the Musselshell Valley Historical Museum and the Earth Science Foundation.

The museum is open from May to September. What will be housed within the expansion is a surprise to the public, so Hebert says he’ll have to visit after they open on May 1, 2023 to see for himself.

So the next time you’re driving through Roundup, consider stopping by the Musselshell Valley Historical Museum for a trip back in time.

Hebert, Chavez and Graben say they will continue to look for projects in the community to encourage tourism.

“This is an amazing area, the history here and the people here. I’ve been all over the world and Roundup feels like home,” says Hebert. “It’s exciting to see the community excited about the community again. Hopefully, they’ll keep the ball rolling. And it’s not just about dinosaurs, it’s about growing this community and helping the companies that are here.”

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