BILLINGS — Construction is underway on a new $700,000 visitor center at Pictograph Cave State Park southeast of Billings.
DPS Company of Boyd, the general contractor for the project, moved heavy equipment onto the state park this week and already has graded the construction site and is excavating holes for the foundation and footings of the 2,730-square-foot building.
Pictograph Cave State Park is among Montana’s premier cultural, archeological, geological and historic sites. But it never has had facilities for visitor comfort, interpretive displays or offices.
The new building, on the northwestern side of the existing parking lot, is designed with an arched entranceway that is suggestive of the openings of the three caves – Pictograph Cave, Middle Cave and Ghost Cave – that make up the main attraction and namesake of the state park. Southeast-facing windows will light an educational center and interpretive display space. The new center will house interpretive displays, retail space, offices, storage, restrooms and a large room for meetings and classes.
Because of its proximity to the caves, archaeologists sampled the construction site this past winter, park manager Terri Walters said. They found no reason to believe that excavation would disturb historical or archaeological artifacts.
Denny Salveson, president of DPS Company, said Friday that the main excavation work was nearly complete, thanks to warm, dry weather. If temperatures hold into next week, he said, workers could start pouring concrete footings and foundations.
Construction is scheduled for completion in 2009. The state park is closed to the public for the winter.