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Archive for montana

Burying the Hatchet in Montana

By Linda Tancs

“Garry Owen” is an old Irish quick-step that can be traced back to the 1800s. The town of Garryowen, Montana, was named after the old Irish tune, purportedly one of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s favorite marching songs. It was the last song played by the band for Custer’s men as they left the Terry column at the Rosebud River, the lead-up to the Battle of the Little Bighorn—a definitive engagement between the U.S. Cavalry and northern tribe Indians (including the Cheyenne, Sioux and Arapaho) known as “Custer’s Last Stand.” A registered historic site, the town is privately owned and the only one within the battlefield. It is the site of the Custer Battlefield Museum, housing important Indian War period artifacts and manuscripts related to Custer, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and the 7th Cavalry as well as a lock of Custer’s hair. You’ll also find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the burial site of one of the first casualties of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The granite tomb was dedicated 50 years after the conflict in 1926 during the Burial of the Hatchet Ceremony featuring White Bull (a Sioux Indian) and General Godfrey.

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Montana’s Birthplace

By Linda Tancs

A quaint river town, Fort Benton is known as the birthplace of Montana. It’s a National Historic Landmark, a monument to western expansion and once the world’s innermost port, a place where steamboats shuffled along the Missouri River for 30 years. It served as the terminus for the 642-mile-long Mullan Wagon Road, the first wagon road to cross the Rockies, binding together the navigable headwaters of the Missouri and Columbia rivers for easy movement of troops and supplies during periods of Indian hostilities. The town’s history is celebrated every year at this time at the weekend Summer Celebration, one of the state’s premier events.

Fossil Hunting in Montana

By Linda Tancs

The Hell Creek Formation in northeastern Montana is a fossil hunter’s paradise, a living chronicle of the end of the dinosaur age. That’s one reason why its impressive bounty of dinosaur remains such as Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops is so significant. Hunting privileges get leased out for big bucks. For an affordable dig, go along with a prospecting company for a weeklong guided tour on property that they’re leasing. Best of all, you can usually keep what you find. Happy hunting!

The Great Divide

By Linda Tancs

The Continental Divide is an epic hydrological divide separating the watersheds draining into the Atlantic Ocean from those draining into the Pacific Ocean. In the United States, its route is over 3,000 miles long, extending from the Canadian border with Montana to the Mexican boundary in southwest New Mexico. Following this course you’ll find the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, part of a series of national trails established by Congress in recognition of their natural beauty. The Continental Divide trail in particular passes through 25 national forests, 21 wilderness areas and three national parks, providing access to spectacular vistas in some of the most scenic places left in the world. The highest point is in Colorado at Grays Peak (14,270 feet) and the lowest is along Waterton Lake in Glacier National Park in Montana (4,200 feet). The long winter season along the Divide (September through May) is now over. Why not plan a hiking or camping trip! From backpacking to family day trips, there’s something for everyone.

Free Flowing Yellowstone

By Linda Tancs

Yellowstone National Park contains most of the world’s geysers, Old Faithful a great favorite among them.  Its regular, billowing eruptions are not the only thing that’s free flowing in America’s first national park, though.  The park is also home to the longest free flowing river in the United States, Yellowstone River.  From there it glides 676 miles to its confluence with the Missouri River without a single dam to break its stride.  Along its many points of access you’ll find plenty of recreational opportunities, including some of the best trout fishing ever and some cool Montana agate to add to your collection.

Bannack’s Glory Days

By Linda Tancs

Did you know that the U.S. Geological Survey ranks Montana as the seventh largest producer of gold in the United States?  The first hint of gold in The Treasure State came in 1852, but the major strike in Grasshopper Creek a decade later spawned the state’s Gold Rush era.  That discovery led to the creation of the mining town, Bannack, where thousands of prospectors with gold dust in their eyes settled for a time.  After the furor died down, this area just 24 miles southwest of Dillon became a ghost town and ultimately a state park.  Named after the Bannock Indians, most of the sixty structures in the area can still be explored.  During the third week of October, the Bannack Ghost Walks feature live re-enactments of significant events throughout the town’s history.

Crown of the Continent

By Linda Tancs

Its crowning achievement is the preservation of more than a million acres of forests, alpine meadows, lakes, peaks and glacial-carved valleys, 70 species of mammals and over 270 species of birds.  That’s reason enough why Montana’s Glacier National Park is aptly dubbed the Crown of the Continent.  Named for its prominent glacier-carved terrain and remnant glaciers descended from the ice ages, it’s nearly four times the size of rival Rocky Mountain National Park.  Take a ride on Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile drive through the park’s interior offering some of the best sights in northwest Montana.  Glacier is also a hiker’s paradise, offering 700 miles of trails, like the shutterbug-friendly Logan Pass.  Better act soon; some scientists predict that by the year 2030, Glacier National Park will not contain any glaciers.  In fact, the park has only 25 glaciers now, down from 150 in the 1800s.

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