Museum cannon getting a facelift

Brendan Heidner
Sunday, May 31, 2020
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Mike Gibbs and one of his crew from Gibbs Crane Service donated time and labor Wednesday to assist the Frontier Gateway Museum in removal and transportation of a 22,000-pound cannon on display outside for restoration. Brendan Heidner photo

An aging piece of heavy artillery at the Frontier Gateway Museum is being resotred and will look good as new when put back on display.

The 22,000-pound cannon was originally restored and donated to the museum by members of the Montana National Guard in 1988.

However, with no major local ties or extensive reason to why the cannon was brought to the Frontier Gateway Museum in the first place, it has sat aging outside on a concrete slab for the past 32 years.

“It’s been a while since it’s been adequately maintained,” museum board member Keith Robinson said.

Over the last year, the board has made numerous renovations to the museum facilities and some of the exhibits and saw the cannon as a neat opportunity.

According to Robinson, former museum curator Fayette Miller proposed the project with the many others at the time and he started to find ways to get it done.

While working on a potential plan to restore the cannon, a local company was working simultaneously to obtain grant funds for the community that would eventually benefit the Frontier Gateway Museum.

Cross Petroleum awarded $5,000 to the museum as part of their Cenex Hometown Pride initiative started in 2019.

According to the Cenex Hometown Pride website, all “Cenex branded dealers, distributors and retailers” were eligible to take part in the initiative by writing about what they feel makes their town special.

Cenex awarded $5,000 to numerous recipients as a community contribution to assist a volunteer board or non-profit.

Gina Roos, who works in accounts payable and marketing at Cross Petroleum, said she submitted a written piece on behalf of Cross in August about Glendive’s local Yellowstone Caviar as the aspect they thought was special for Glendive. Roos was notified a few months later they were set to receive one of the awards from the initiative.

“Greg (Cross) ended up choosing the funds to go to the Frontier Gateway Museum because his mom actually was a founder of that museum,” Roos said.

Although the board planned to use some of those funds for the restoration of the cannon, Robinson found an option last fall that made the cost of the project very reasonable.

Local business owner Mike Gibbs offered his services after Robinson discussed what they wanted to do with the cannon.

“What we determined as the best thing to do is for the cannon just to be picked up and set on a lowboy (trailer) and take it out to Northwest Protective Coating and they will sand blast it and paint it,” Robinson said.

He added Gibbs offered them his services “pro bono” and were “shot such a reasonable offer” to have the cannon sand blasted and repainted for restoration.

“It was kind of an offer we couldn’t refuse,” Robinson said.

Gibbs took a crew to the museum Thursday to load the cannon for transport and it will soon be in the restoration process.

“We’re just really happy with everybody’s participation on this thing,” Robinson said.

Once the artillery is returned and put back in its place, Robinson and museum board president Eileen Melby hope to attract more visitors to see the history inside and out of their renovated facilities.

“We would certainly like our townspeople to see their museum,” Melby said.

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