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History Of: Cedar Island


If you’ve never heard of Cedar Island on Flathead Lake, you aren’t alone. Cedar Island is a much lesser known island than Wild Horse Island on Flathead Lake. However this island has an interesting history and is quite the hidden gem for its very infrequent visitors! Before you plan your visit, here are a few historical facts you might want to know about this gorgeous island:

Cedar Island under private ownership

Until the 1950s, the Marshall family privately owned Cedar Island on Flathead Lake. In the 1920s, the family built a home, boathouse and several out-buildings on the island. The family also planted a beautiful orchard to the south of the home, about 3 to 4 acres in size. With the beautiful meadows, and large Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine in the area– it’s easy to imagine Cedar Island being a beautiful place to call home for the Marshalls!

Cedar Island sold to Fish, Wildlife, and Parks

In 1954, the Marshall family sold Cedar Island to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. The state used a mixture of state license fees (25%) and Federal Pittman-Robertson wildlife restoration dollars (75%) to purchase the island. The Federal Pittman-Robertson wildlife restoration dollars required the lands be protected as a waterfowl nesting habitat.

Cedar Island begins to see recreators

After FWP purchased Cedar Island on Flathead Lake, it was open to recreators most of the year. The exception was during goose breeding season from March 1 to June 15. However, as Canadian Geese populations increased FWP became more lax about policing this rule. Recreators began coming to the island year round— even camping in the Marshall home!

The demolition of the Marshall home

Sadly, the island not only became an interesting place for well-intentioned recreators to explore— it also drew the attention of vandals. The interior and exterior of the house became a canvas for graffiti artists and time also took its toll on the old home. With no one maintaining its upkeep, the roof began leaking, the safety of the stairs became questionable, and vandals smashed all the home’s windows.  By 2009, FWP determined, “the structure and current condition pose potential public health risks and safety hazards,” as written in the Flathead Lake Island Management Plan for 2009. 

Cedar Island today

While the Marshall’s home isn’t still standing on Cedar Island, there are still plenty of beautiful, natural sights to see on the island! However, the best way to get there is somewhat of a local secret that we won’t be sharing online. If you’d like to learn more about getting to Cedar Island on Flathead Lake by sailboat, kayak, or paddleboard— rent from Go Sail Flathead Lake and we’ll provide you with the quickest directions to get there!