Montana Trip: US Highway 89 thru Montana – North 89

Glacier National Park
Snow covered mountains of Glacier National Park as seen from US 89 just south of US Route 2 near Browning, MT

As I continued my trip in Montana, I spent some time with my daughter and her children in Shelby.  From there I proceeded to head back to Kentucky the “back roads” way over a number of US Highways and State Highways.

US Route 2 and US Route 89
US Route 2 and US Route 89

My goal was to travel the majority of Montana’s US 89 during this trip.  I did not hit the portion north of Browning to Alberta on this trip, though I have traveled it in the past.  In fact, over the years I have traveled US 89 from the Canadian border all the way to Mexico (back when US 89 went that far). This post will cover the section of US 89 north of Great Falls and I will follow with a second post covering the portion of US 89 in Montana south of Great Falls.

A scene from US Highway 89 in northern Montana
A scene from US Highway 89 in northern Montana

Sometimes called the National Park Highway, U.S. 89 links seven national parks across the Mountain West. In addition, fourteen other national park areas, mostly national monuments are also reachable from this backbone of the Rockies. The highway goes through prairies, mountains and deserts and, in my opinion, is the most scenic US Highway in America.

Sunrise on US 89 near Great Falls, Montana
Sunrise on US 89 near Great Falls, Montana

My wife flew out to Montana so I took her down to Great Falls and spent the night there.  The next morning she had an early flight, so I dropped her off and then headed north on US 89 from Great Falls and would travel all the way to US Highway 2 near Browning and then back to Shelby for one more night with the family.

US Highway 89 west of Vaughn, Montana
US Highway 89 west of Vaughn, Montana

US 89 near Great Falls merges with Interstate 15 until Vaughn, Montana, where it cuts northwest towards Glacier National Park.  In the early morning, this is a fabulously beautiful drive along the eastern edge of Glacier.

Sunrise over the Rockies as seen from US 89 north of Vaughn, Montana
Sunrise over the Rockies as seen from US 89 north of Vaughn, Montana
Morning sky on US 89 south of Fairfield, Montana
Morning sky on US 89 south of Fairfield, Montana

The first town along US 89 north is Fairfield, where the highway continues northward. I pulled into town on an early Monday morning and things were still quiet. Like many small Montana towns, there are old neon signs, old buildings and a unique personality.

Morning in Fairfield, Montana
Morning in Fairfield, Montana
Old Neon Sign, Fairfield, Montana
Old Neon Sign, Fairfield, Montana
Silos against the morning sky in Fairfeld, Montana
Silos against the morning sky in Fairfeld, Montana
Mo Meth Mural in Fairfield, Montana. Murals such as these are common in many small towns in Montana
Mo Meth Mural in Fairfield, Montana. Murals such as these are common in many small towns in Montana

Fairfield is also the southern gateway to Freezeout Lake, which can be seen from US 89. This lake is a spring home to snow geese and swans as they fly north to Canada in the spring. I drove by a bit late to see the swarms of birds, but I did catch a couple of bird shots as I drove by.

Early morning on Freezeout Lake as seen from US 89 north of Fairfield, Montana
Early morning on Freezeout Lake as seen from US 89 north of Fairfield, Montana
Another nice view of Freezeout Lake
Another nice view of Freezeout Lake
A black-necked stilt looks for its morning breakfast at Freezeout Lake
A black-necked stilt looks for its morning breakfast at Freezeout Lake
Geese enjoy an early morning swim in Freezeout Lake
Geese enjoy an early morning swim in Freezeout Lake

Route 89 continues north into beautiful country on the approach to the town of Choteau, which is a southwestern gateway to Glacier (the town refers to itself as “The Front Porch to the Rockies”).

A metal cowboy sculpture on a hill south of Choteau, Montana is silhouetted against the morning sky.
A metal cowboy sculpture on a hill south of Choteau, Montana is silhouetted against the morning sky.
Welcome to Choteau, Montana
Welcome to Choteau, Montana

The town is the northern terminus of US 287 which actually starts in Port Arthur, Texas, about 1,791 miles away.  (I actually drove a good portion of US 287 on a previous trip to Texas from Dalhart through Amarillo and Wichita Falls into the Dallas area.) As I pulled into Choteau from the south I was greeted by two grumpy looking cowboys (in the Ace Hardware parking lot).  I contacted Ace owner Steve Nyland to inquire about the pieces and learned that they were made by Lincoln, Montana born artist Rick Rowley who now runs the Lost Woodsman Studio in Sedona, Arizona (which, by the way is ALSO on US 89 in Arizona) and is world renown for his art.

Big Wooden Cowboy in Choteau, Montana
Big Wooden Cowboy in Choteau, Montana (carved by Rick Rowley)
Grumpy Cowboy in Choteau, Montana
Grumpy Cowboy in Choteau, Montana (carved by Rick Rowley)
Visiting a couple of cranky cowboys in Choteau, Montana
Visiting a couple of cranky cowboys in Choteau, Montana

Choteau is home to a beautiful old courthouse, a 70s style motel and a few other unique things.

Teton County Courthouse, completed in 1906 and designed by Joseph B. Gibson and George H. Shanley
Teton County Courthouse, completed in 1906 and designed by Joseph B. Gibson and George H. Shanley
Old Neon - Big Sky Motel in Choteau, Montana
Old Neon – Big Sky Motel in Choteau, Montana
Welcome to Choteau, Montana sign
Welcome to Choteau, Montana sign
Old covered wagon on a building in Choteau, Montana
Old covered wagon on a building in Choteau, Montana
Roxy Theatre in Choteau, Montana
Roxy Theatre in Choteau, Montana
A wall mural in Choteau, Montana
A wall mural in Choteau, Montana
Choteau, Montana
Choteau, Montana – banner with dinosaurs

It is also home to a unique little museum called the Old Trail Museum, and is one of 14 stops on the Montana Dinosaur Trail. They even have three big dinosaur statues outside of the museum.

Old Trail Museum in Choteau, Montana
Old Trail Museum in Choteau, Montana
A T Rex coming after Sumoflam in Choteau, Montana at the Old Trail Museum
A T Rex coming after Sumoflam in Choteau, Montana at the Old Trail Museum
Grizzly Bear Exhibit at the Old Trail Museum
Grizzly Bear Exhibit at the Old Trail Museum
Bear Trap on display at the Old Trail Museum
Bear Trap on display at the Old Trail Museum

The folks at the Old Trail Museum are ultra friendly and there is a lot to see there including paleontology exhibits, grizzly bear exhibit, an art studio and a luscious ice cream shop!  A great place to bring the kids…and that is why we came with the grand kids.

Some of the Old Trail Museum
Some of the Old Trail Museum (including a dinosaur tail!)
Another dinosaur at the Old trail Museum
Another dinosaur at the Old trail Museum
The third outdoor dinosaur at the Old Trail Museum
The third outdoor dinosaur at the Old Trail Museum

The next town north of Choteau is Bynum, Montana.  The town is home to yet another dinosaur museum, the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center, another Dinosaur Trail stop.  The center includes the world’s longest dinosaur, a skeletal model display of a Seismosaurus, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Other displays include the first baby dinosaur remains found in North America and the actual remains of other new dinosaur species.

Bynum, Montana
Bynum, Montana
Two Medicine Dinosaur Center, Bynum, Montana
Two Medicine Dinosaur Center, Bynum, Montana
Come See the World's Largest Dinosaur in Bynum, Montana
Come See the World’s Largest Dinosaur in Bynum, Montana
Big Dino Statue in Bynum, Montana
Big Dino Statue in Bynum, Montana

This is another one of those very small towns, but it does have a unique character in that it has a dinosaur museum in a giant T Rex that you can see from the highway. Great for a photo opportunity!

Trex Agate Shop and wall mural in Bynum, Montana
Trex Agate Shop and wall mural in Bynum, Montana
Old Purkett's Grocery in Bynum, Montana
Old Purkett’s Grocery and Bus Depot in Bynum, Montana
J.D.'s Wildlife Sanctuary in Bynum. Apparently known for its steaks.
J.D.’s Wildlife Sanctuary in Bynum. Apparently known for its steaks.

Another few miles up the road US 89 meets Montana 219 which leads to Pendroy and then on to Conrad on Interstate 15.  Pendroy, Montana is a sparsely populated little place.

A dilapidated barn near Pendroy, Montana
A dilapidated barn near Pendroy, Montana
An old house in Pendroy, Montana
An old house in Pendroy, Montana

My biggest excitement about Pendroy was the discovery of some unique yard art outside a house there. It included a wind chime made of oxygen tanks, a metal bear sculpture, a metal gal on an old tiller and more.

Metal Gal on Tiller in Pendroy, Montana
Metal Gal on Tiller in Pendroy, Montana
Oxygen Tank Wind Chime in Pendroy, Montana
Oxygen Tank Wind Chime in Pendroy, Montana
Metal Grizzly Bear in Pendroy, Montana
Metal Grizzly Bear in Pendroy, Montana
Old cabin near Pendroy, Montana
Old cabin near Pendroy, Montana

The drive north on US Route 89 really offers some spectacular views of the mountains to the west and they are extra beautiful when the sun is coming up.

Rocky Mountains as seen from US 89 near Pendroy, Montana
Rocky Mountains as seen from US 89 near Pendroy, Montana
US 89 heading north from Pendroy, Montana
US 89 heading north from Pendroy, Montana
Another view of the Rocky Mountains just south of Dupuyer, Montana
Another view of the Rocky Mountains just south of Dupuyer, Montana

The next town on US 89 is the historic town of Dupuyer, Montana.  The sign below says it all, calling is a “colorful cattle town” and the “oldest town between Fort Benton and the Rocky Mountains.”  I found it to still be colorful.

Dupuyer History
Dupuyer History
Welcome to Dupuyer, another unique metal town sign, common in northern Montana
Welcome to Dupuyer, another unique metal town sign, common in northern Montana

While driving into Dupuyer, I noticed a unique cemetery on a hill west of town with the flag flying high and the Rockies in the background.  I decided to veer off the road a bit onto Dupuyer Creek Road and catch some of the scenery and was glad I did.

Dupuyer Cemetery on a hill with a spectacular view of the Rockies
Dupuyer Cemetery on a hill with a spectacular view of the Rockies
Dupuyer Creek Road is a gravel road west out of Dupuyer heading straight to the mountains
Dupuyer Creek Road is a gravel road west out of Dupuyer heading straight to the mountains
A flag flies at the gate to Anderson Ranch, just west of Dupuyer
A flag flies at the gate to Anderson Ranch, just west of Dupuyer

The road was also lined with colorful wildflowers all on bloom on this early morning.

Wildflowers set against the mountains
Wildflowers set against the mountains
Bright yellow wildflowers
Bright yellow wildflowers
Purple Wildflowers
Purple Wildflowers

Then, what struck me as fun was the “Boot Fence.”  I had seen one similar on a highway in Idaho in 2013.  Each post had its own boot on it.  I have also seen it in Texas.  I wondered about the tradition and found a few write-ups about the tradition. A search in Google images shows dozens of photos of boots on fences.

Many ranchers wear cowboy boots and like everything else, they eventually wear out. Ranchers are very resourceful and when this happens — they put the boots on top of the posts to keep them covered and prevent rain water from seeping into the posts and rotting them out.

Boot Post Fence near Dupuyer, Montana
Boot Post Fence near Dupuyer, Montana

Sometimes, a rancher will put boots on the fencepost to honor the passing of a beloved horse, a hired hand or fallen comrade. Also, before telephones were invented, a rancher would indicate he was home and the workday was over by hanging boots on the fence. Whatever the reasons, it is an interesting tradition in the west.

My favorite post
My favorite post

Finally, back on US 89 I was tempted to visit the Dupuyer Cache, but they were still not open when I drove by at 8:45 AM.

Dupuyer Cache sells yarn, honey, books, groceries and more.
Dupuyer Cache sells yarn, honey, books, groceries and more.
An old tractor at rest in Dupuyer, Montana
An old tractor at rest in Dupuyer, Montana

A couple of miles north of Dupuyer on US 89 is a cut off to Valier. In and of itself, Valier is not too exciting of small town but it is scenic as it borders Lake Frances, a great bird estuary.  On the afternoon leg of my trip with my grandchildren we ventured to Valier on our way to Choteau in order to take a ride out to “Rock City.”  It is a six or seven mile drive due north of town.  This is not the same Rock City that is located near Chattanooga, Tennessee and has advertisements on barns all over the southeast.  Rather, this Rock City is a natural “city” of rock formations that have been eroded away by the Two Medicine River. (See my detailed post about here)

Two Medicine River north of Valier, Montana
Two Medicine River north of Valier, Montana
Rock City north of Valier, Montana
Rock City north of Valier, Montana

To get to Rock City you drive north towards Cut Bank out of Valier on Cut Bank Highway and as the road turns west, you continue north on a dirt road which eventually turns into a little path that’s kind of bumpy and probably more suited to a four-wheel-drive or a large base vehicle.

A portion of the road to Rock City
A portion of the road to Rock City
Farmland along the road to Rock City
Farmland along the road to Rock City

On the approach through prairie lands and farmlands, a big Valley, a chasm opens up in front of you. The Two Medicine River flows down below and it was quite a strong current at the time we visited due to all the glacier runoff as spring had gotten started.

Chasm formed by Two Medicine River
Chasm formed by Two Medicine River (Glacier Wind Farm in background)
Two Medicine River forms a small canyon north of Valier, Montana
Two Medicine River forms a small canyon north of Valier, Montana

Hundreds of strange rock formations dot the landscape, creating many eerie features.  Many of the formations are 12 to 20 feet tall and many have big flat tops on them indicating massive amounts of water in wind erosion over but I would assume is centuries of time.

Hoodoos of Rock City
Hoodoos of Rock City
Unique formations at Rock City
Unique formations at Rock City

For the adventuresome person, hiking down to the river is probably quite possible as there are many locations that are not beholden with cliffs. On this occasion we walked around through many of the formations, but didn’t venture down into the canyon itself.

Rock City near Valier, Montana
Rock City formations near Valier, Montana

To me, though much different in appearance, it was not unlike Coal Mine Canyon which is located on the Navajo Indian Reservation east of Tuba City, Arizona. Like Coal Mine Canyon, it is an undeveloped geologic location that might otherwise be a National Monument or a State Park. But in both cases neither of these appear to be headed in this direction. Both require going down narrow dirt roads and paths to get to them. Both have unique and otherworldly formations. And both have big chasms with beautiful scenes.

Formations at Rock City north of Valier, MT
Formations at Rock City north of Valier, MT

Up in northern Montana near Sweet Grass, there are some similar formations known as the Jerusalem Rocks. But the Rock City formations are much larger and much more expansive. (See my detailed post about Rock City here)

More Rock City Formations
More Rock City Formations

Continuing north on US 89 I entered the Blackfeet Reservation at its southern entrance. And, similar to the East Entrance in Cut Bank (see photos in THIS POST),  there are two scrap metal Indian Chiefs that greeted me. The same artist, Jay Polite Laber has put these sculptures at all four directional entrances to the reservation.

Sumoflam with Blackfeet Chiefs at south entrance to Blackfeet Reservation south of Browning, MT
Sumoflam with Blackfeet Chiefs at south entrance to Blackfeet Reservation south of Browning, MT.  These were made by Blackfeet artist Jay Polite Laber
South entrance to the Blackfeet Nation
South entrance to the Blackfeet Nation – artwork by Blackfeet artist Jay Polite Laber
Blackfeet Chief by Jay Polite Laber
Blackfeet Chief by Jay Polite Laber

From this location looking west, one can see the grandeur of the massive snow covered mountains of Glacier National Park.

Heading north on US Route 89
Heading north on US Route 89
Horses graze on Blackfeet land as seen from US 89 southeast of Browning, MT
A horse grazes on Blackfeet land as seen from US 89 southeast of Browning, MT
Approaching Browning, MT just south of the Junction with US Route 2
Approaching Browning, MT just south of the Junction with US Route 2

Road Trip Home from Idaho – Day 2: Along the Montana Hi-Line from Shelby to Glendive

Abandoned Schoolhouse - Fresno, Montana
Abandoned Schoolhouse – Fresno, Montana (east of Kremlin)

March 31, 2013: After spending a few wonderful days in Shelby, Montana with family (see my previous post on Shelby), it was time to head back to Kentucky.  This segment of the trip we would take US Route 2 along what is called the Montana Hi-Line.  Basically, the highway parallels the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF). The full Hi-Line in Montana stretches from North Dakota to Idaho border, for a distance of more than 650 miles.  However, it seems that to many of the residents in the area, the Hi-Line is really the stretch of US Route 2 from about Cut Bank, MT all the way east to the North Dakota border. US Route 2 is the northernmost east-west route in the United States and is broken into two segments – the western segment is the longest stretching from Everett, WA all the way to St. Ignace, MI for a distance of 2112 miles.  We drove the route all the way to Wolf Point, MT and then headed south to Glendive, for a total of about 420 miles for the day.


View Larger Map – Shelby, MT to Glendive, MT

The Hi-Line drive is predominantly wind swept rolling prairies, wheat fields and small towns dotted with tall grain elevators, silos and old abandoned buildings.  The hey day of the early railroads is long gone and many of the towns now cling to life with farming and support of the BNSF tracks that run though the dozen or so small towns.

A typical Hi-Line scene
A typical Hi-Line scene

Between Shelby and Chester there is not much.  We passed by the Frontier Bar in Dunkirk and then, past there we saw a few old wooden cabins, barns and elevators.

Old Wooden Homestead east of Shelby, MT
Old Wooden Homestead east of Shelby, MT
Wind Blown Cabin near Galata, MT
Wind Blown Cabin near Galata, MT

As a throwback to the 60s, we did come across an old RV Park in Galata, MT.  I loved the old vintage sign.

RV Motel in Galata, MT
RV Motel in Galata, MT

Train tracks and silos span the entire way along Route 2.  Scenes like the one below are not at all uncommon.

Tracks and Silos just west of Galata, MT
Tracks and Silos just west of Galata, MT
Old Wooden Grain Elevator
Old Wooden Grain Elevator near Chester, Montana

Continuing east from Galata, our next stop was in Chester, MT, a town of about 850 people. You can tell by the welcome signs that it is most definitely a railroad town.

Chester, Montana welcome sign
Chester, Montana welcome sign on East side of town
Chester, Montana welcome sign on West side of town
Chester, Montana welcome sign on West side of town
Museum Sign near Chester, MT
Museum Sign near Chester, MT
Spud's Cafe - Chester, MT
Spud’s Cafe – Chester, MT
Old Car - Chester, MT
Old Car – Chester, MT
Main Street, Chester, Montana
Main Street, Chester, Montana
Old Diner, Chester, Montana
Old Sugar Shack Diner, Chester, Montana

Apparently, the Sugar Shack Diner was a prefab “Valentine Diner” built by Valentine Manufacturing of Wichita, Kansas in the 1950s. It is a 10-stool diner built in 1953, with previous homes in Conrad and Chinook, before being moved here.  There is an interesting site on these prefabs done by the Kansas Historical Society.  Following is the advertising graphic for this type of diner from the 1950s:

Valentine “Little Chef” Diner model

Of course, I continue to collect Wall Art/Murals from my trips.  Here are a couple I saw in Chester.

Wall Murals in Chester, Montana
Wall Murals in Chester, Montana
Old Tractor Mural - Chester, Montana
Old Tractor Mural – Chester, Montana

From Chester we headed east.  To the north we could see the Sweet Grass Hills far beyond the prairies.  These are legendary to the local Blackfeet.

The Sweet Grass Hills
The Sweet Grass Hills

These are prominent in the area in that the three main buttes and the surrounding hills jut up out of the prairies, with a couple of them having a towering vertical rise of over 3000′ above the land level. The main hills are West Butte (6983′), Gold Butte (6512′) and East Butte (6958′). The three buttes and the hills between them run for about 50 miles east to west and are about 10 miles in distance from north to south.

Sweet Grass Hills north of US Hwy 2
Sweet Grass Hills north of US Hwy 2 just east of  Chester, Montana
Sweet Grass Hills
Sweet Grass Hills in the distance

Our next stop was in Joplin, Montana, a small town of barely 150.

Abandoned Grain Elevator - Joplin, Montana
Abandoned Grain Elevator – Joplin, Montana
Joplin, Montana sign
Joplin, Montana sign
Joplin, Montana...Biggest Little Town on Earth
Joplin, Montana…Biggest Little Town on Earth

There wasn’t much in Joplin but a few buildings, so we pressed forward to Rudyard, Montana, which promised to have a bit more personality.  Before we got to Rudyard, off to the right of the highway we came across a big metal triceratops skeleton.  It was so random!

Rudyard Dinosaur
Rudyard Dinosaur – Triceratops
Rudyard Dinosaur - Front View
Rudyard Dinosaur – Front View
Sumoflam and Dino - near Rudyard, Montana
Sumoflam and Dino – near Rudyard, Montana

Apparently, this dinosaur is the work of a metal artist in Rudyard as I found another site that had some photos of some other pieces.  I’ll check it out next time in Shelby to see the family.

Rudyard Welcome Sign
Rudyard Welcome Sign

Like many of the towns on the Hi-Line, Rudyard is a small town.  They claim to have 596 Nice People and 1 Old Sore Head as can be seen by the sign above. Even though the town is small, they also have a small museum, which apparently has some dinosaur-related things.

Rudyard Depot Museum
Rudyard Depot Museum

The charm of small towns are the museums and historical centers.  Unfortunately, we were driving through on a Sunday afternoon and things were not open.  But, Rudyard boasts a couple of museums – see the Rudyard Historical Society site for more details.  Following are a few photos from Rudyard.

Hi-Line Theatre - operating since 1949
Hi-Line Theatre – operating since 1949
Vintage Auto Museum - Rudyard, Montana
Vintage Auto Museum – Rudyard, Montana

See the link for the Vintage Auto Museum

Indian Motorcycle Sign - Rudyard, Montana (Mike from American Pickers would love it!)
Indian Motorcycle Sign – Rudyard, Montana (Mike from American Pickers would love it!)
The Sorehead Cafe - Rudyard, Montana
The Sorehead Cafe – Rudyard, Montana — This must be the one sorehead??

Actually, there is apparently a story about “Old Sorehead” being a dinosaur.  Check it out here. So, even though it is a small town, there is certainly a story here.

The other thing I learned about Rudyard is that it is the only populated spot in the United States that has an antipode that reaches a landmass. The antipode is the opposite point of any point on the surface of the Earth, so that if you connected the two points with a line through the center of the Earth, that line would be an exact diameter. Mathematically, the antipode of a point whose latitude and longitude are (A,B) equals (-A, B ± 180°).  Almost everywhere in the U.S. hits a point in the Indian Ocean, except for two unpopulated sections of Colorado and then a section of Northern Montana (see this map).  The town of Rudyard has an antipode in one of the small islands of the Kerguelen Islands (also known as the Desolation Islands) in the southern Indian Ocean.  There is also a great little animation about antipodes here.

Silos near Kremlin, MT
Silos near Kremlin, MT

Enough about geography…back on the road eastward with the next stop being Kremlin, Montana.

Kremlin Post Office, Kremlin, Montana
Kremlin Post Office, Kremlin, Montana
Welcome to Kremlin sign
Welcome to Kremlin sign

The town of Kremlin apparently got its name from a Russian immigrant who was laying railroad track in the area around 1890. He saw the Bears Paws mountains in the distance and they reminded him of home.  There is a nice story here.

Old McCabe Grain Elevator in Kremlin, MT
Old McCabe Grain Elevator in Kremlin, MT

Continuing east on US Hwy 2 towards Havre we took a sideroad to visit a small abandoned schoolhouse in what used to be Fresno, Montana.  This schoolhouse has been photographed numerous times and is kind of indicative what things looked like on the prairies.  From US Hwy 2 we took a left on Smith-Frisno Road, crossed over the tracks and went north about a mile.  The old schoolhouse is on the left…you can’t miss it.  It’s actually about 8.5 miles from downtown Kremlin.

Old Abandoned School
Old Abandoned Schoolhouse – Fresno, MT
Front view of old schoolhouse in Fresno, MT
Front view of old schoolhouse in Fresno, MT

Havre is probably the midway point on the Hi-Line and is by far the biggest town on the Hi-Line as well with more than 10,000 residents.  The town was in incorporated in 1893 and was founded primarily to serve as a major a major service center for the Grand Northern Railroad which was built by James J. Hill, who was also known as “The Empire Builder.” The town was named for Le Havre in France due to the number of Frenchmen working with Hill.

James J. Hill Statue in front of Amtrak station in Havre
James J. Hill Statue in front of Amtrak station in Havre

The main industry for many years has been the railroad.  BNSF was, for many years, the main employer in town, though the hospital and a university may now be the biggest employers. It is also about 6 miles north of Fort Assiniboine which served as one of Montana’s chief military posts from 1879 through the early 1900s.

The "Main Drag" in Havre. US Hwy 2 runs right through the middle of town.
The “Main Drag” in Havre. US Hwy 2 runs right through the middle of town.
1960s Motel Sign in Havre, Montana. There are still a few of these in town.
1960s Motel Sign in Havre, Montana. There are still a few of these in town.
Hands Across the Border Statue by Lyndon Pomeroy
Hands Across the Border Statue by Lyndon Pomeroy

Former Havre resident Lyndon Pomeroy is a well known Montana metal sculptor.  He created the Hands Across the Border piece to represent U.S. and Canadian partnership in northern Montana.  He has a few other works in Havre and also a number of them in Billings., where he now resides.  He also has done a recent large piece for Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls.

The Canadian side of "Hands Across the Border" by Lyndon Pomeroy
The Canadian side of “Hands Across the Border” by Lyndon Pomeroy
The U.S. Border Patrol side in "Hands Across the Border" by Lyndon Pomeroy
The U.S. Border Patrol side in “Hands Across the Border” by Lyndon Pomeroy
Big Buffalo in downtown Havre
Big Bison in downtown Havre

The above bison was created by Havre resident Cory Holmes, who used three miles of old telegraph wire to create this nine-foot long, six-foot tall 2000 pound bison.  Cory is better known for his “Fence Post Art,” some of which can be seen here. He has work in 19 states and two Canadian provinces.  The fence sculptures cover a wide range of subjects: people, animals, insects, abstract and impressionist pieces. Can’t wait for my next trip to Montana to look for these!!

Welcome to Havre sign at Amtrak Station
Welcome to Havre sign at Amtrak Station
Stained Glass Goat on left of Welcome to Havre sign
Stained Glass Goat on left of Welcome to Havre sign
Stained Glass Train on right of Welcome to Havre Sign
Stained Glass Train on right of Welcome to Havre Sign

From Havre it was east to Chinook.  This town of a little over 1200 people. Like many of the towns in northern Montana, Chinook was born from the railroad.  In the late 1880s the railroad was coming through here and by the early 1900s the town had hotels, businesses and a bustling economy. In 1924 the Utah-Idaho Sugarbeet company moved to Chinook to make molasses and sugar beet pulp.  There are still many nostalgic signs hanging in town.

Welcome to Chinook sign
Welcome to Chinook sign
Big water tower welcome in Chinook, Montana
Big water tower welcome in Chinook, Montana
Old Chinook Hotel Sign
Old Chinook Hotel Sign
Mint Bar neon in Chinook, Montana
Mint Bar neon in Chinook, Montana
Old Cowboy Bar - Chinook, Montana
Old Cowboy Bar – Chinook, Montana
Motel sign in Chinook, Montana
Motel sign in Chinook, Montana

From Chinook the drive gets more scenic as it also runs along the Milk River.  Unfortunately, the day was passing by as we passed small towns like Zurich, Harlem and Malta on our way into Glasgow.  I wanted to get to Glasgow before dark so I could get shots of the dinosaur statues on a hill as you enter town.  Another quirky way to end the daylight portion of the trip before pushing our to Wolf Point and then into Glendive.

Welcome to Glasgow - large metal artwork by Buck Samuelson
Welcome to Glasgow – large metal artwork by Buck Samuelson

As you approach Glasgow from the west on US Hwy 2 you will see a large hill to the left, covered with metal art by local metal sculptor Buck Samuelson, who has some of his work cataloged by the Smithsonian Institute. See some closeups here.

Giant Dino by Buck Samuelson
Giant Dino by Buck Samuelson
Big Dino by Buck Samuelson
Big Dino by Buck Samuelson
Giant Eagle by Buck Samuelson
Giant Eagle by Buck Samuelson
A menagerie of animals by Buck Samuelson
A menagerie of animals by Buck Samuelson
Some bugs
Some bugs
Something by Buck Samuelson -- who knows what this is?
Something by Buck Samuelson — who knows what this is?

It was really a long day, especially since we left Shelby at 2 PM to head east.  We made it into Glendive around 11 PM, but had a great eventful day along the Hi-Line.  The next day will be a fun one too with the Enchanted Highway and Mount Rushmore on the agenda!!  Watch for that post soon.


Road Trip to Idaho – Day 2: Savage, MN to Miles City, MT

Rural Scene on Enchanted Highway, South of Gladstone, ND
Rural Scene on Enchanted Highway, South of Gladstone, ND

I embarked on Day 2 of my trip to Idaho – left Savage, MN in the midst of snow and fog.  The roads were scary heading northwest to Fargo, ND.

Snowy highways in Minnesota
Snowy highways in Minnesota

Today (March 9, 2013) was the second leg of my trip to Idaho.  Today I drove from Savage, MN to Miles City, MT.  I drove 781 miles over a 14 hour stretch.  Following is the map of the trip.


View Larger Map

My first stop along the way was for gas.  I stopped in Avon, MN…..which, I discovered, is also the home of the Lake Wobegon Trail.  The trail is 46 miles long and 10 feet wide.  It opened in 1998.  Avon is the home of the Lake Wobegon Trails Association.  Garrison Keillor, the creator of Lake Wobegon and the Prairie Home Companion show, lived in Avon at one time.

Avon, Minnesota
Avon, Minnesota
Lake Wobegon Trail
Lake Wobegon Trail
Wobegon Park, Avon, MN
Wobegon Park, Avon, MN
Wall Mural on laundromat in Avon, MN
Wall Mural on laundromat in Avon, MN
Wall Mural in Avon, MN
Wall Mural in Avon, MN

From Avon I proceeded north to Ashby, MN.  This is home to a large metal Coot statue, which is what I was looking for.  But, as I often discover, the town is also a quaint little place.

Ashby, Minnesota
Ashby, Minnesota
Coot Statue, Ashby, MN
Coot Statue, Ashby, MN

The coot statue stand outsides of town on Highway 78 and represents the largest Ashby area sportsmen club, Coots Unlimited (a parody of Ducks Unlimited).  There is more about it here.

Man walking road in Ashby, MN
Man walking road in Ashby, MN
Mural in Ashby, MN
Mural in Ashby, MN
Ashby, MN Water Tower in the fog
Ashby, MN Water Tower in the fog

From Ashby I proceeded north to Fergus Falls, MN.  The roads were a little better and my GPS had me taking a back road.  I was headed first to the Continental Divide Marker and site, which was built in 2000.

Continental Divide Plaque - Fergus Falls, MN
Continental Divide Plaque – Fergus Falls, MN
Downtown Fergus Falls
Downtown Fergus Falls

From Fergus Falls I continued heading northwest on I-94.  The roads were still icy, but had cleared up somewhat.  I then took a quick swing off at Exit 38 (Rothsay) to get a photo of the 14 foot tall, 9200 pound cement prairie chicken statue.  I have been here before (as well as a good part of the drive thru North Dakota – see my posts from 2005) .  This time I was able to get a more unique view of the giant bird.

Greater Prairie Chicken Statue - Rothsay, MN
Greater Prairie Chicken Statue – Rothsay, MN

I then got back on the freeway and fought more fog.  But the fog and snow make for interesting views that one would not see on a clear day.  Many trees took on shadowy shapes.

Tree in fog - northwest Minnesota as seen from I-94
Tree in fog – northwest Minnesota as seen from I-94

Along the road I found a road sign that provided the perfect description of this day’s trip had been to this point – Downer, MN (exit 15 heading north)

Downer, MN - Great description of the day
Downer, MN – Great description of the day

Ironically, shortly after Downer, things cleared up again, just in time for my entrance into the border town of Moorhead, MN. Moorhead has a Norwegian population and is home to the Hjemkomst Center, which houses a replica Viking ship and the beautiful is the Stave Church, a symbol of the Norwegian heritage in the Red River Valley. Built by Guy Paulson, the church is a full-scale replica of the Hopperstad Church in Vik, Norway. Norwegian Stave churches were built just after the close of the Viking Age in Scandinavia in the 1100 and 1200’s. The technique of using vertical posts-or staves- had been modified over time to become wooden architectural works of art.

Stave Church Replica - Moorhead, MN
Stave Church Replica – Moorhead, MN
Snowy Road in Moorhead
Snowy Road in Moorhead

From Moorhead I entered Fargo, ND and continued heading west on I-94. I passed thru Fargo so I could get to other sights along the road (and to also get out of the miserable snow!!) My first stop in North Dakota was Jamestown. Jamestown is known as the “Buffalo City” and one can find all kinds of Buffalo things, including “the World’s Largest Buffalo” statue the National Buffalo Museum.

Frontier Village - Jamestown, ND
Frontier Village – Jamestown, ND
Chuckwagon Cafe - Jamestown, ND
Chuckwagon Cafe – Jamestown, ND  They offer a      4 Meat Buffet what ever that is
World's Largest Buffalo - Jamestown, ND
World’s Largest Buffalo – Jamestown, ND

The “World’s Largest Buffalo” is a in Frontier Village. It was commissioned in 1959 by local businessman Harold Newman, and built by art students from Jamestown College, under the supervision of art instructor and designer, Elmer Peterson. It is visible from Interstate 94, overlooking the city from above the James River valley. The statue is 26 feet tall, 46 feet long and weighs 60 tons. It was constructed with stucco and cement around a steel beam frame shaped with wire mesh.

World's Largest Sand Hill Crane - Steele, ND
“Sandy” – The World’s Largest Sand Hill Crane – Steele, ND

Further west on I-94 is the small town of Steele, ND. There are about 800 people and one silver Big Bird! “Sandy”, as she is known, is a 40 foot tall 4.5 ton bird.  It was constructed of rolled sheet metal welded onto a steel inner frame, which was built in three different sections.  It was created in 1999 by James Miller, a resident of Arena, ND.  The crane was built to bring attention to the fact that the Steele area is one of the best birding destinations in North America. Sandhill Cranes are some of the migratory species that nest here.

Silo Family as seen from I-94 near Steele, ND
Silo Family as seen from I-94 near Steele, ND

I loved the shot above.  Tons of fun…

I finally made it to Bismarck, ND where I had a couple more interesting stops.  Bismarck borders the Missouri River and there are a number of parks along river road.  One is Keelboat Park.  There is a large four headed thunderbird statue at the park and it is uber impressive. The sculpture represents a powerful American Indian spirit that depicts thunderstorms.

Thunderbird Statue - Keelboat Park, Bismarck, ND
Thunderbird Statue – Keelboat Park, Bismarck, ND
Sumoflam and Thunderbirds
Sumoflam and the Thunderbirds
Lewis and Clark Sculpture - Keelboat Park
Lewis and Clark Sculpture – Keelboat Park
Grant Marsh Bridge over Missouri River in Bismarck
Missouri River High Bridge over Missouri River in Bismarck

In Pioneer Park along the Missouri River, there is a fairly new sculpture called “Rising Eagle”, which was made by art students from the United Tribes Technical College.  Dedicated in 2007, it was vandalized in 2010 and had to be rebuilt.

Rising Eagle Sculpture in Pioneer Park, Bismarck, ND
Rising Eagle Sculpture in Pioneer Park, Bismarck, ND
Rising Eagle Sculpture from the Front
Rising Eagle Sculpture from the Front

As I continued west of Bismarck on I-94, the weather was finally cleared up and there were sunny skies.  The views looked great.

I-94 west of Bismarck, ND
I-94 west of Bismarck, ND

A couple of miles before Exit 72 (about 20 miles east of Dickinson, ND) I could begin seeing the following HUGE sculpture by local artist Gary Greff (from Regent, ND).  Greff began his projects in 1989 and continues work today through donations from local people and many others. Named “Geese in Flight,” it is the gateway to the famous “Enchanted Highway” and is listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “World’s Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture.”

Gate to Enchanted Highway - Flying Geese
Gate to Enchanted Highway – “Geese in Flight” – created in 2001

Built in 2001, “Geese in Flight” is 154 feet long and 110 feet tall and weighs over 78.8 tons.  The largest flying goose has a wingspan of 30 feet. Gary Greff used oil tanks and oil well pipe to make it.  I kind of envision the big “eye” in the middle as looking over the Enchanted Highway.

Flying Geese from Satellite (as pulled from Google Maps)
Flying Geese from Satellite (as pulled from Google Maps)

The Enchanted is a 32 mile stretch of road beginning at Exit 72 on I-94 and then going south through Gladstone and then all the way to Regent, ND.  Along the way there are a number of sculptures.  Greff even made dozens of small geese that line the nice dirt road up to the Flying Geese sculpture.

Geese along road
Geese along road

From the Flying Geese, I did go south through Gladstone and then on for another 10 miles.

Grain Elevator
Grain Elevator – Gladstone

Then about three miles down the road, is “Deer Crossing,” the second of the huge sculptures down the road.  The buck is 60 feet long and 75 feet tall.  The doe is 50 feet tall and 50 feet long.  These were erected in 2002.

"Deer Crossing" on Enchanted Highway
“Deer Crossing” on Enchanted Highway
Deer Crossing from satellite
Deer Crossing from satellite
Flying Geese as seen from Deer Crossing
Flying Geese as seen from Deer Crossing

I continued south in hopes of seeing more and made it ten miles to the “almost” ghost town of Lefor.  The prairie scenery was great.

Rural Scene on Enchanted Highway, South of Gladstone, ND
Rural Scene on Enchanted Highway, South of Gladstone, ND
More scenery on the Enchanted Highway
More scenery on the Enchanted Highway

I made it to Lefor and gave up as I had more traveling to do to get to Miles City, Montana for the night.

Remnants of old bank in Lefor
Remnants of old bank in Lefor

There are a number of other giant sculptures along the road south of Lefor, including a 60 foot grasshopper, pheasants on the prairie (including a 60 foot long pheasant), a 51 foot tall Teddy Roosevelt and a “Fisherman’s Dream”, which was completed in 2007 and includes a metal fish leaping up 70 feet through a metal pond surface.  Someday I hope to get back there to see all of these.  At the end of the road Greff has built an Enchanted Castle Hotel for the final enchanting stop.

I returned back through Gladstone and took a quick spin through the town and caught one final small statue:

Small Metal Sculpture in Gladstone
Small Metal Sculpture in Gladstone

I made way to Dickinson and then on to the border of North Dakota and Montana.

Sunset in North Dakota
Sunset in North Dakota

I was surprised to see that there was even a Beach in North Dakota!!

Welcome to Beach, ND
Welcome to Beach, ND
Beach, ND
Beach, ND

After a long day I made it to the hotel in Miles City, Montana.  Hotel sweet hotel…..