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Category Archives: Montana

After spending the night in Missoula we headed off to Gardiner, Montana and Yellowstone National Park. On our way we planned a stop in Butte, Montana to visit a couple of sites. Our original plan was to take the trolly tour of Butte as well as the Mine tour but it was early June and the schools were all having their field trips so the tours were all full. Something to keep in mind for our next trip.

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We did stop at the World Museum of Mining and walked around the site. It actually reminded us a lot of northern Minnesota where there was and continues to be a lot of mining activity.

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After walking around the Museum we asked where we could get a good pasty. We decided to stop at Gamer’s Cafe in downtown Butte. We frequently have pasties when we are in the U.P. of Michigan and usually bring a bunch of frozen pasties home when we drive through Ironwood. Surprisingly the Gamer’s pasties were quite a bit different from those in the U.P. and were served with a side of gravy. They were good but large so we split one.

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After lunch at Gamer’s Cafe we drove over to the The Berkeley Pit Mine. It can be seen for mile as you drive into Butte from any direction and is located in downtown Butte. In fact, part of the town and to be moved to accommodate mine expansion. The mine is over 1700 feet deep and filled with acidic water. A water filtration plant has been build to clean up the water and will need to run forever. If the water level in the pit rises too high it will contaminate the groundwater.

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After leaving the Berkeley Pit we had one more stop before reaching Gardiner. On our last trip to Montana we developed a taste for Salmon Fly Honey Rye beer produced by the Madison River Brewing Company of Belgrade, Montana. Since we were driving through Belgrade we stopped at the brewery to pick up a case of Salmon Fly. Unfortunately it is only available in a few western states.

After leaving Pullman, Washington our next stop was Missoula, Montana. We had reservations at Gardiner, Montana but had an extra day because we cut our visit to the Palouse short. So we were looking for something to do and discovered the Ghost Town of Garnet Montana.

Garnet Montana

Garnet Montana

We were trying to figure out how to get to Garnet. One road was not recommended and the other sounded like it might be ok. We ended taking Montana 200 then at around the 23 mile marker turning right on Garnet Range Road. This turned out to be a nice road it was paved most of the way and the last few mile of gravel road were in excellent condition. The other route in is a one lane tract that is not to be attempted in bad weather.

Frank A. Davey's Store

Frank A. Davey’s Store

Garnet turned to be one of those hidden gems that you sometimes find. It was a great experience and we spent most of the morning walking around the town and talking with the ranger and a local volunteer who happened to be from Wisconsin.

Stable

Stable

Garnet was founded in 1895 by a couple of doctors who owned claims in the area. A rich gold strike at the Nancy Hanks mine resulted in a gold mining boom. The town had “four stores , four hotels, three livery stables, two barber shops, a union hall, a butcher shop, a candy shop, a doctor’s office an assay office cabins, 13 saloons and a school.”

J.K. Wells Hotel

J.K. Wells Hotel

By 1905 the boom was over and the population shrank to 150 only to grow to 250 in the 1930’s. Only to die with the advent of the second world war. The town has been preserved and it looks like folks just walked away and expected to return shortly.

J.K. Wells Hotel

J.K. Wells Hotel

I happened to mention to the ranger that I had read an article asking for volunteers to live for free in the town. Apparently a short blurb was sent to the news outlets asking for volunteers for the summer. The perk was you could live in Garnet free of charge.

J.K. Wells Hotel

J.K. Wells Hotel

It was picked up by the national and international news outlets and got out of hand. Some of the news outlets claimed the government would put you up for free without any conditions. When we visited they already had 5,000 applications from all over the world. One couple drove up from the south and suddenly appeared asking for free housing.

Garnet Montana

Garnet Montana

My wife stopped at the local gift shop and purchased some gold leaf earrings. Apparently they were made from gold leaf mined by a local miner. While she was in the gift shop the miner drove by on the way back from his mine. Too bad I didn’t know she was going to buy something we could have gotten them autographed.Kelley's-Saloon-Garnet-Montana-15-6-_1282

It was an enjoyable morning at Garnet. If you are in the area be sure to make the trip. On the drive back we stopped to take some photos of the Lupine that was abundant along the road.

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More photos of Garnet can be found on my website.

Leaving Pullman, Washington we decided to drive back to Missoula, Montana via scenic highway 12 which parallels the Lochsa River for part of the way. The trip was supposed to take a little over five hours but it turned out to be an all day trip. There was a little more traffic than we would have liked because it was a weekend. Most of the delay dealt with the large number of rafters on the Lochsa River. There were a variety of rafts in use and it was a lot of fun to watch them run the rapids. We would drive along until we found some rafters and then drive back to the nearest rapids so we could watch them. There had been a lot of rain in the area for the past several weeks so the water was high and the water was running fast. It looked like the kayakers were having the most fun.

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We were up early for a drive down to Jackson Hole. Normally it would have been an easy drive from West Yellowstone down through the park but the road was closed south of Old Faithful so we had to drive down the western slope of the Tetons through potato country.Mesa-Falls-14-10-_0488

It was really foggy in the morning and folks were driving like there was no tomorrow so we decided to take a detour and drive over to Mesa Falls to avoid the main road. This wasn’t all that much better because it was open range and we kept seeing cattle along the road.Mesa-Falls-14-10-_0930

By the time we reached Mesa Falls the sun was out. Mesa Falls was very impressive with lots of water flowing and a nice rainbow out over the falls.Mesa-Falls-14-10-_0478a

As we continued our drive through Eastern Idaho we saw patches of color. Where there was color it looked to be nearing its peak.Idaho-14-10-_0518

As we continued our drive toward Victor, Idaho we could see storm clouds over the Targhee National Forest and fresh snow on the ground.Targhee-National-Forest-14-10-_0539

As we left Victor, Idaho to head over the mountains there was some nice color along the road.Jedediah-Smith-Wilderness-14-10-_0551

Driving over the mountains we encountered a snow storm with several inches on the road and poor driving conditions. We felt sorry for the folks living in Victor and having to drive to Jackson Hole to work.Jedediah-Smith-Wilderness--14-10-_0568