04/09/2004
Last modified April 9, 2004 - 1:43 am
Custer Battlefield Museum founder receives award


Chris Kortlander, who founded and built the privately owned Custer Battlefield Museum at Garryowen, was named Tourism Person of the Year this week in Billings at the Governor's Conference on Tourism and Recreation.

He won the award for 10 years of efforts to enhance the tourism potential of the Big Horn County community and his nonprofit museum near Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. He bought Garryowen in 1993 and created the museum, rest stop, gas station, convenience store and information center on his property just off Interstate 90.

Kortlander also is on the board of directors for Custer Country, the tourism region that includes Billings and southeastern Montana.

Governor Judy Martz & Chris Kortlander

Malta and Phillips County were selected as Tourism Community of the Year for innovation in promoting tourism and the community's effort to promote its assets without compromising quality of life. The community was also honored for the thousands of dollars in public and private resources donated to the cause of tourism and for the estimated 4,000 volunteer hours contributed by local residents.

A task force set up last year to counter negative publicity in the wake of 2003 forest fires was also honored. It included representatives from the Flathead and Whitefish Convention and Visitors bureaus, Glacier Country Tourism Region, the National Park Service, Big Mountain Resort, Travel Montana and public-relations professionals from Missoula and Whitefish.

The 36th C.M. Russell Auction of Original Western Art received Tourism Event of the Year.

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