Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Great Falls and Philipsburg, Montana

Friday, September 30th and Tuesday, October 4th

Friday we drove up to Great Falls for the day.  The History Museum building was built in 1929 for International Harvester and was a farm machinery dealership for 30 yrs.  In 1930 International Harvester produced over 200 tractors per day.  Freight elevators would carry these tractors to the third floor for storage.  The building became a museum in 2007.  It is near the Missouri River falls that delayed the Lewis and Clark Expedition for two weeks in June of 1805.  Great Falls was founded in 1884 and by 1893 it had a population of 10,000. 

This fur-lined coat with Persian lamb collar was tailor made in the mid-1930s and owned by a man from Romania.  He wore it while he was in a concentration camp for Jews in 1943 and 1944.  It helped him to survive and probably saved his life.  His son wore it while he fought in the Russian Army at Stalingrad and went, via a displaced persons camp in Vienna, to New York, then Minneapolis and finally to Great Falls in 1950.  So it's over 80 years old and still looks to be in fine shape, despite all it's been through.

This 1895 Bovey Carriage and horse were advertising for the Mady Clothing Company.

The Storytone Electric Piano, the world's first electric piano, was built in 1939 and debuted that year at the World's Fair.  In 1946 this one was used in Havre, Montana at KOJM radio station.

This 1918 Model T Roadster is in working condition and was driven to the museum in 2007.  It cost just under $300 new in 1918 and was purchased from the original owner in 1954 for the same price.  It was totally restored, finding several of the needed parts at dumps.  The first Model T rolled out of the factory in 1908 and they kept rolling off the assembly line for almost 20 years.  In 1923 the U.S. and Canada turned out their all-time record high of 1,866,307 Model Ts.  October 31,1925 a single day's output reached 9,109 cars, a record unequaled for 30 years.  The final total production in 1927 was 15,007,034 - a record that stood for 45 years.  In 1926 "Cannonball" Baker did a cross-country trip from New Jersey to Los Angeles 3,306 miles in five days two hours and thirteen minutes without relief at the wheel and the transmission sealed in high gear, the fastest time ever made across the continent by one man in any kind of automobile.  He reported losing time from natural hazards such as stray cows, a sand storm and a washed-out bridge.

This is a clever little gadget I'd never heard of or seen before.  Just close it around all your buttons and polish them all at the same time.  I wonder if the service men still have to polish the buttons on their uniforms.

This turn-of-the-century Millionaire mechanical calculator was the first successful commercial mechanical calculator that could perform direct multiplication.  It adds, subtracts, multiplies and divides and was made in Switzerland from 1893 to 1935 with a total production of 4,600.

The original balls for the new game of basket ball were made of leather with laces on the outside and were larger than current day basketballs.

One of the major claims to fame of the Fort Shaw Indian Industrial School was its Girl's Basket Ball Team.  In 1904 they won the World Championship at the Louisiana Purchase Expo in St. Louis.

The team members also performed scarf dances to entertain the audience.

Cute t-shirts in the gift shop.  Waterfall:  Go with the flow, Roar with excitement, Let your cares fall away, Create your own music, Immerse yourself in nature, Stay active, Make a splash.  River: Slow down and meander, Go around the obstacles, Be thoughtful of those downstream, Stay current, The beauty is in the journey.  Trout:  Show your true colors, Be a good catch, Know when to keep your mouth shut, Cherish clean water, Don't give up with out a fight, Don't be lured by shiny objects, Scale back.  All good advice.

After a quick stop for lunch, we went to the C. M. Russell Museum.  This blue two-story frame house was built in 1900 and is where he and his wife lived after they were married.  It was located in the most fashionable district in Great Falls.  Next to it on the left is his log cabin studio that was built in 1903 when his wife got tired of all his art stuff all over the dining room.  Behind the house to the right is the museum and the Charlie Russell Riders Sculpture Garden.  It's a wonderful museum if you like western art, cowboys and Indians, buffalo, guns, wagons, horses, etc.

Besides all the fabulous paintings and sculptures by Charlie and several others, there is this collection of miniature wagons, carriages and stagecoaches.  There is also a whole gallery of guns.

I thought this was a rather cool sculpture of a buffalo jump, the way the Indians used to stampede the buffalo over the edge of a cliff.  For11,000 years the Indians hunted by means of buffalo jumps.  The giant bison was prized for their enormous horns and became extinct over 6,000 years ago.  The true buffalo is the Asian/African water buffalo.  50 to 60 million bison once ranged across the Great Plains from Mexico to Canada.  By 1889 only 541 bison remained in the U.S.  and they were moved to reserves and private ranches.  Charlie lived near the Blood Indians in Canada for three months.  He arrived in the Judith Basin of the Montana Territory in 1880 and worked for seven different ranch outfits over 11 years.  He worked round-ups in the Bear Paw Mountains, Big Sandy, Chinook, Lewistown, Helena, Cascade and Great Falls areas until 1893.  He made over 75 buffalo paintings, the first by 1890, as well as numerous scenes of the daily life of the Northern Plains Indians and cowboy and ranching activities.  He signed his work with a horned buffalo skull in the foreground.  Many of his contemporary artist friends stayed with him at his famous Bull Head Lodge on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park.  Five of these artists are featured in the museum.

"Trails End"
  Charlie hated automobiles.  This 1888 Cunningham Funeral Carriage led by a team of black horses carried his coffin.  It was followed by a riderless horse outfitted with Russell's saddle and bridle and his six shooters and holsters strapped behind on the cantle.

More detail if you are curious.  From here we went to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center.  There are about ten different museums in Great Falls and 48 miles of trails on both sides of the river for hiking and biking, about 20 miles paved, so there is lots to do here.

There are a couple of really good films here in their very nice theater and a ranger-led walk around the native prairie grounds.  Within a 15 mile stretch of the Missouri here there was an overall change in elevation of 500 feet.  Four of the five falls as Captain Lewis first discovered them can still be seen today: Great Falls 80 feet high, Crooked Falls 7 miles upstream 19 feet high and 300 yards across, above that Rainbow Falls 50 feet high, and two and a half miles above that was Black Eagle Falls 26 feet high and 600 yards wide.  Colter Falls a 6 foot cascade has filled in with sediment since the completion of Rainbow Dam.  Lewis and Clark kept journals, writing more words than are in the Bible, plus four sergeants and two enlisted men kept diaries and recorded their experiences.  As with most 19th century writers, they spelled words they way they sounded.  Clark spelled "Sioux" 27 different ways without ever spelling it correctly.  The scene above shows what it was like for the expedition for the two weeks it took them to haul all their gear uphill around all the falls.  On June 23, 1805 Merriwether Lewis made this entry in his journal " every halt these poor fellows tumble down and are so much fortiegued that many of them are asleep in an instant; some are limping from the soreness of their feet, others faint and unable to stand for a few minutes, with heat and fatiegue, yet not one complains all go with cheerfullness."  Another entry said the winds were so strong at times that they could put sails on the canoes that were on wheels and sail them on dry land.  Giant Springs State Park along the river here includes one of the largest springs and one of the shortest rivers in the world.  Every 24 hours, 156 million gallons of water bubbles up from the springs and flows into the Missouri via the Roe River, the world's shortest river according to Guinness World Records at just 201 feet long.

This is Sakajawea's husband's buffalo sausage recipe, in case you might like to try it.

We stopped at the famous Sip 'n Dip Lounge and Casino for supper to watch the mermaid swimming in the glass tank behind the bar.  Famous might be over rating it a bit, but the meal was good and we were home by 10:00 PM, a long day.

Tuesday we drove over to visit friends we met in Yuma, at their home near Drummond.  This is the Drummond dinosaur, just a little artwork by one of the townsfolk.  That afternoon our friends took us for a ride way out in the boonies toward Deer Lodge in the Pintner Mountains.  Very remote and scenic.

Wednesday morning we stopped at the Ohrmann Museum and Gallery in Drummond.  About 2010 there was a PBS documentary done about Bill Ohrmann who began painting at age 78 when he retired from ranching.  He had been a wood carver since he was a kid, but got serious about his art when he retired.  His paintings were expressions against human disregard for nature.  His theme was "Be thou always as a guest".  The museum and gallery are right next to his ranch home on Montana Hwy. 1.

His huge metal sculptures are all around the yard, including a giant woolly mammoth, polar bear, buffalo, donkey elk, turtle, etc.  He got the idea when he was 80 to start creating larger-than-life welded steel sculptures.  The polar bear is listed as 1 of 60 outstanding steel sculptures in the world. 

This sign was out front.  Be sure to read the fine print at the bottom.  He is known for his series of paintings originally titled "Something to Offend Everyone".  Maybe he had to change it because Donald Trump already had a monopoly on that theme.  

This was in the corner of one of his paintings.  

Then our friends took us over to the little tourist town of Philipsburg on the Pintler Scenic Route edged by the Flint Creek Range and the Sapphire Mountains southeast of Missoula.  Their downtown has handsome Victorian buildings.  Their turn-of-the century courthouse and grade school and 1893 Opera House are still in use.  It is one of Montana's best preserved late 19th century mining towns.  Silver was discovered south of here in 1864.  Three years later it was growing at a rate of one house per day.  Only two years later the nearby Hope Mill shut down and was largely deserted.  The revival of mining from the mid-1880s to 90s led to its greatest growth when tens of millions of dollars worth of silver bullion, ore and slag were shipped to out-of-state markets.  When silver mining was curtailed in 1893, recently discovered sapphire deposits helped stabilize the local economy.  That year Philipsburg became the county seat of Granite County.  During WWI it was the largest supplier of domestic manganese.  After that boom it slipped into a stable existence based on agriculture, government, logging, limited mining and tourism.

We had lunch at Doe Brothers, an old soda fountain place, and wandered around looking through the shops.

Notice the sign in the window.  "Our town is so small that we can't afford a town drunk, so we all takes turns."  Reminds me of the town I grew up in, population about 85.

Just a few sayings I noticed that I could relate to.

We bought some candy at the candy shop and a few knick knacks and headed home.

  Thank you again Duane and Paula for all your hospitality, the great meals and showing us all around.  We had a great time.  Hope to see you in Yuma this winter.

What beautiful country it is out here.

Nice scenic drive back to Helena.

Oops!  That is until we started heading up to McDonald Pass where it was 34 degrees at 4:00 PM as we drove over the top at 6,312 feet.

It was looking a little iffy there for a while.

But once we got over the top and started coming down again, it cleared right up.

Thank goodness!

We've got to start heading south pretty soon, which we did October 29th.  More about that next time.

Life is all about how you handle "Plan B".
To become old and wise, you must first be young and crazy.
Take life with a grain of salt and a wedge of lime.

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