Pioneer Expierence FAQ
What kinds of activities will we be doing?
You will be observing 19th-century traditions in the division of daily chores and
activities. You or your group members could be, hauling water, as well as
bringing in firewood, doing the cooking an a wood stove, and performing
various household duties and general chores. The chores will include a variety
of activities depending on the season, but might include fence building or
repair, work in the gardens, working with a spinner, tinsmith, blacksmith, etc.
There will also be some surprises planned for you. Your pioneer guide/mentor
as well as other costumed staff will develop plans for your weekend and will be
there to instruct you on how to successfully complete the activities, but you will
be performing the tasks yourself. Some activities are weather-dependent.
Is there a schedule we can see in advance?
Each Pioneer Experience is composed of seasonal activities appropriate to the
ages and genders of the participants. While many activities are common to
each Pioneer Experience others are tailored specifically to each participating
group based on their application information. A set schedule will not be
provided for you in advance. You will learn about your adventures as they
occur, just as much of life would have been for an actual pioneer family.
Is the Pioneer site open to the public during our
Your “home” will be open to the public from 9am-6pm each day. You will
interact with “your guests” while you carry on your tasks. Your pioneer
guide/mentor will assist you in this.
What health and safety concerns should we keep in
Some activities can, by their nature, pose some risk, including (but not limited
to) physical exertion, adverse weather conditions and potential exposure to
allergens (possible irritants in this program may include wood smoke, straw,
dust, wool and animal and food allergens). Participants spend the weekend in
a living history museum and may, therefore, come into contact with sharp tools,
nails, fire, hot cooking implements, animals (wild and domestic) and irregular,
rocky or muddy pathways. A valid tetanus shot is recommended, as are sturdy
shoes. Appropriate footwear is to be worn at all times outside the house.
What do we do if we require first aid?
If you require first aid during the day, help is available from the medic on duty
within the museum.
What restroom facilities are available for our use?
Since modern plumbing was not available to pioneers, the closest restroom
facilities you may use will be the “privy” (a modern outhouse), which is located
in reasonable proximity to the Pioneer homesite.
What clothing will the museum provide?
You will be provided with all of the outer clothing and headgear
(hats/caps/bonnets) that you will need. You will sleep in your assigned pioneer
clothing. It is extremely important that you return the measurement information
requested from our costuming staff that was sent out. If you need to obtain a
tape measure to complete the costume forms, they can readily be purchased at
most dollar stores, fabric stores, etc.
Will my costume look like the clothing in Gone With
While Gone With the Winde takes place at a similar time period to our Pioneer
Experience, keep in mind that most of what we see in the movies are given a
Hollywood spin, while groups accepted to our program will be portraying
pioneers on the American frontier. Clothing appropriate to a parlor in the South
would not be appropriate on a frontier farm and vice versa. Our “pioneers” are
outfitted in simple, historically accurate, working-class clothing based on what
would have been available and practical on the frontier.
What clothing do we need to bring?
You are responsible for bringing your own socks, undergarments and shoes.
Wool socks (in black, white, gray, or brown) and long underwear are
recommended, as nights may be cool (especially in the spring).
Undergarments do not have to be 19th-century appropriate as long as they can
be easily hidden by your outer clothing.
What sorts of shoes are acceptable?
Shoes should be either black or dark brown, closed-toed and sturdy enough for
active outdoor use. Men and boys may wear work boots. Shoes must be worn
outside the house at all times.
Is there any training beforehand? How will we learn
the skills we’ll need to use?
Accepted pioneer groups will be required to attend an orientation at 2pm on the
Friday of arrival. During your orientation session you will learn a brief history of
the area, receive your clothing, fill out paperwork, discuss interactions with the
public while in your museum “home”, etc.
Where do we go when we come to the museum for
Upon your arrival, you will report directly to the Community Meeting Hall (316
W Idaho Virginia City, MT 59755). You will be greeted by staff members to
begin your orientation.
Where do we park our car during our Pioneer
During your orientation you will be directed to leave your car in the Bonanaza
Inn parking lot, located next door to the Community Meeting Hall. This is also
where you will leave your car during your weekend. You will not be permitted
to return to your vehicle until after your experience ends on Sunday afternoon.
Please make sure you have everything from your car that you will need during
the weekend when you leave it!
What should we bring?
Bring your enthusiasm and a willingness to try new things! As far as material
possessions, you may bring a small bag containing your personal toiletries,
toothbrush, antiperspirant, insect repellant, sunscreen, etc., and camera (for
use before and after museum open hours only). Also remember to bring your
shoes, socks, undergarments, and clothing to wear home on Sunday. Women
should bring any required monthly sanitary supplies, and anyone who requires
medication should be sure to bring that as well. Please let us know if your
medication requires refrigeration.
What should we not bring?
Please do not bring large amounts of money, modern jewelry (except wedding
rings) or wristwatches. You may bring an old-fashioned pocket watch if you
desire, but it is not necessary. What’s time to a pioneer, anyway? You do not
need to bring any food or tools, as the food supplies required for the six meals
you will eat during your experience, as well as any equipment needed to carry
out your planned pioneer tasks, will be provided. Cell phones, car keys and
other modern possessions are unnecessary for the weekend.
When should we arrive for our Pioneer Weekend?
Your Pioneer Experience weekend will begin at 2pm on Friday and will end
around 2pm on the following Sunday.
If you have additional questions that are not addressed here, please call