Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 30 – Great Falls, MT

When Meriwether Lewis arrived at the Great Falls of the Missouri he was reassured that the Corps had chosen correctly at its junction with the Marias River.  But when he found five waterfalls he realized the gigantic task facing his men.  The 18-mile portage took a month to complete!  Wheels were sliced from tree trunks and the boats were winched with ropes and muscle.  The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center told the story of the portage.  It also included stories of the Indians that were encountered on the journey.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

June 29 – Great Falls, MT

Fort Benton is considered the birthplace of Montana. It is a small town with a large heritage.  Fort Benton is situated on the banks of the Missouri River. It began as a buffalo robe trading post. Discovery of gold in Montana brought new emigrants seeking their fortunes.  Infamous trails were forged from Fort Benton into Canada and were used for whiskey trade with the Indians. Mullen Wagon Road connected the Missouri river with the Columbia River 642 miles away.  Fort Benton was the inner most port in the world! The post played a vital role in western expansion.
Today the town of Fort Benton celebrated Summer with a parade, historical re-enactors, music, food vendors and fireworks!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 26 - Pompeys Pillar

On their return trip, Lewis and Clark separated at Travelers' Rest near present day Missoula to be able to explore more territory. The Lewis party took the "Road to the Buffalo" which led them to the Great Falls of the Missouri and exploration of the Marias River.  The Clark party was to explore the Yellowstone River.  There Clark came upon a large sandstone formation which he named for Sacajawea's son Jean  Baptiste. Clark had given the boy the nickname Pomp which means "little chief" in Shoshoni.  At Pomp's Tower Clark carved his signature leaving the only physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  A later biographer edited his journal to read Pompeys Pillar.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 25 - Little Bighorn Battlefield

We have moved on to Billings, MT and have been joined by our daughter Kathy.  She will be with us for the next month.  Our first outing together is to the Little Bighorn Battlefield where George Armstrong Custer rode into history.  Re-enactors on horse back and memorial ceremonies led by Indian leaders marked the 137 Anniversary of the battle.  Picnic lunches were provided by the Park Service and enjoyed by all.
A bus tour of the Battlefield explained the location of Custer and his men. They were greatly outnumbered and dividing  his men made victory for Custer impossible.  Custer lost five companies, 210 men.

Custer's men were buried where they fell in battle.  White tombstones mark each grave.  Custer's body was taken to West Point for internment. The spot where he fell is marked by a white tombstone with a black shield on it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 19 – FMCA Rally

Same location, Gillette WY, 2600 coaches gathered for the National Convention of Family Motor Coach Association.  It’s fun to watch that many coaches being parked.  Everything this week was on a larger scale, the vendors, seminars, show coaches and volunteers.  The seminars covered topics from fire safety to coach driving, and from Gillette history to beading bracelets.

Tours of the area were offered by the Visitor’s Center. A walking tour stressed the town’s beginnings as a cattle market and recent history as the Energy Capital of the US.  

  Wyoming coal is shipped to 36 states and accounts for 35% of the nation’s coal production.  It is low sulphur coal used primarily to produce electricity.  An average of 85 coal trains move 15-20,000 tons of coal each day.  Reclamation is a major component of surface mining in Wyoming.  Land is restored to an equal or better condition and ready for grazing and wildlife habitat.

The city of Gillette made us feel welcome and we tried to return the hospitality by contributions of food, money and quilts to local charities.