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.


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A Few Days in Shelby, Montana and surrounding area

Shelby, Montana
Shelby, Montana

March 28, 2013:  On our way back to Kentucky from Rexburg, Idaho  we made a three day detour to Shelby, Montana to visit our daughter and her husband and their 4 children. During our three days here, we were very busy with a trip to the base of Glacier National Park, a drive around town capturing the “Neon Essence” of Shelby, and a trip north to Sweetgrass, just south of the Canadian border, where we also visited a Hutterite colony and learned of their amazing communal ways.  This post will cover these activities through photos and some details.

Shelby, Montana -- a train town
Shelby, Montana — a railroad town

Shelby is a city of about 3400 people (including 6 of my children/grandchildren!!). It was started as a railroad town and continues as such today.  Named after Peter O. Shelby of the Montana Central Railway, the town really got its start in 1891 when the Great Northern Railroad was making its way to the Marias Pass.  The story goes that the builders threw a box car from the train and called it a station.

Old Motel Sign in Shelby, Montana
Old Motel Sign in Shelby, Montana

One of the endearing characters of Shelby is all of the old neon signs still hanging around the town. Obviously, as an Amtrak town, there are still lots of motels in Shelby.  As well, it is a nice pit stop for many.

Vista Motel - Shelby, Montana
Vista Motel – Shelby, Montana
Sherlock Motel - Shelby, Montana
Sherlock Motel – Shelby, Montana
Big Motel sign in downtown Shelby
Big Motel sign in downtown Shelby
Old Motel Sign - Shelby, Montana
Old Motel Sign – Shelby, Montana

There are lots of bars and restaurants as well…

Oasis Bar - Shelby, Montana.  Love the old Dancing neon sign
Oasis Bar – Shelby, Montana. Love the old Dancing neon sign
Sports Club - Excellent Food - Shelby, Montana
Sports Club – Excellent Food – Shelby, Montana
Mint Club - Shelby, Montana
The Mint Club – Shelby, Montana
Montana Grill and Roxy Theater in Shelby, Montana
Montana Grill and Roxy Theater in Shelby, Montana

On a previous trip I took the kids to see a movie at the Roxy.  Old style theater still in operation.  It was fun.

Here are a few other scenes from around the town itself…

Wall Art in downtown Shelby
Wall Art in downtown Shelby
H-O Motor Supply - old advertising
H-O Motor Supply – old advertising
Bowling anyone? - this is the only place to bowl in Shelby.
Bowling anyone? – this is the only place to bowl in Shelby.
Unusual sign seen in a shop in Shelby
Unusual sign seen in a shop in Shelby
Iwo Jima Metal Art at Veteran's Memorial in Shelby, Montana.  This was made by local veteran John Alstad
Iwo Jima Metal Art at Veteran’s Memorial in Shelby, Montana

Vietnam War Veteran John Alstad of Sunburst created most of the pieces at the Veteran’s Memorial in Shelby. He estimates he spent nearly 700 hours working on the various pieces at the monument, the most prominent of which is the Iwo Jima piece.

Found this old truck driving through a neighborhood in Shelby
Found this old truck driving through a neighborhood in Shelby

As I noted, Shelby is a railroad town.  As I drove around town getting the shots above, we were stuck at a track for nearly 20 minutes as a long train made its way to a grain elevator.  The photo at the top shows the train at the elevator.

Long train running in Shelby, Montana
Long train running in Shelby, Montana

I have always enjoyed looking at the graffiti on trains.  You see it all over the country.  Here are a few examples I got as the train moved slowly past us.  I couldn’t go anywhere, so, why not?

Train Graffiti
Train Graffiti
Train Graffiti
Train Graffiti
Train graffiti
Train graffiti
Train graffiti
Train graffiti

After the trains, I drive a bit east of town on US 2 to get a view of Shelby from the hill.  We came across this unique Historical Marker.

The Oily Boid gets the Woim - a unique historical marker
The Oily Boid gets the Woim – a unique historical marker

One of the evenings Julianne and I went with my daughter and her husband to the “premier” steak place in the Shelby area. Trust me, you would never know how good this place was inside by driving by it!!  It is in an old whitewashed building literally in the middle of nowhere in a place called Dunkirk, on the outskirts of Shelby.  All that is indicated is the sign.

Frontier Restaurant near Shelby, Montana
Frontier Restaurant near Shelby, Montana
Mailbox outside of Frontier Bar and Grill
Mailbox outside of Frontier Bar and Grill
Hanging with the Frontier Guy
Hanging with the Frontier Guy
Frontier Bar in Dunkirk, east of Shelby
Frontier Bar in Dunkirk, east of Shelby
I guarantee that this place is no bull!!
I guarantee that this place is no bull!!

Once in the place, it is a whole different story.  Linen napkins and nice china. The water glasses were the nice stem ware one sees in an upscale restaurant.  The prices are also synonymous with ritzy…  But so was the meal.

Dinner at Frontier - 16 oz. Cajun blackened New York Strip with a huge potato and green beans.
Dinner at Frontier – 16 oz. Cajun blackened New York Strip with a huge potato and green beans

After a nice dinner, we walked out of the restaurant and OH WHAT A VIEW!!

Mountains to the north of Shelby, with an awesome sunset.
Mountains to the north of Shelby, with an awesome sunset
Close up of Gold Butte - mountains on fire
Close up of Gold Butte – mountains on fire

The next day my son in law Aaron, his two boys and I all took off west towards Glacier National Park.  Though it was officially closed, we were able to get close enough to the mountains to catch a beautiful sunrise.  I will have a special photo album of shots of the mountains, but will include a couple of them here as well.

We left early, while still dark and headed towards Cut Bank and Browning.  We then took Hwy 464 towards Duck Lake. As we headed north towards Babb, the sun began to rise.

Sunrise in Northern Montana
Sunrise in Northern Montana near Babb, Montana
Snow covered prairies north of Browning, Montana
Snow covered prairies north of Browning, Montana
First sunrise on the mountains of Glacier National Park near Babbs, Montana
First sunrise on the mountains of Glacier National Park near Babb, Montana
Sunrise a little later in Glacier
Sunrise a little later in Glacier – Chief Mountain on Right, Sherburne Peak and Yellow Mountain on the left
Chief Mountain at sunrise
Chief Mountain at sunrise
Heading to the mountains on Montana Hwy 464 near Duck Lake
Heading to the mountains on Montana Hwy 464 near Duck Lake
Clouds in the Mountains near Babb, MT
Clouds in the Mountains near Babb, MT
Old truck - Babb, Montana
Old truck – Babb, Montana
Babb Bar and Supper Club
Babb Bar and Supper Club

After the sun was finally up, we backtracked to Babb and dropped in at the Leaning Tree Cafe, which is about a mile from the US 89 Junction.  It opened at 8 AM and it was time for a great meal.

Leaning Tree Cafe, Babb, Montana
Leaning Tree Cafe, Babb, Montana
Leaning Tree Menu - lots of good breakfast
Leaning Tree Menu – lots of good breakfast
The kids were excited to eat at a place like this
The kids were excited to eat at a place like this
They sell grubs here too - didn't have any of those for breakfast
They sell grubs here too – didn’t have any of those for breakfast
Mary runs the Leaning Tree Cafe.  She makes a great breakfast
Mary runs the Leaning Tree Cafe. She makes a great breakfast
My breakfast at leaning tree - eggs, sausage, hash, potatoes and toast - YUM
My breakfast at leaning tree – eggs, sausage, hash, potatoes and toast – YUM
Happy after my breakfast
Happy after my breakfast

You can see a complete gallery of the Glacier N.P. Mountains –> Click Here

We headed back towards Browning, and along the way saw a couple of bison.  Not too good of shots, but, I didn’t want to get out of the car

Bison on Hwy 464
Bison on Hwy 464

We made our way into Browning, Montana.  The mountains were beautiful, but I was actually quite shocked at all of the garbage in the fields (mind you, I come from Lexington, KY which always looks like a park)

Browning, Montana - notice all of the garbage
Browning, Montana – notice all of the garbage along the fence
Don't Drink and Drive sign - makes for empty lodges
Don’t Drink and Drive sign – makes for empty lodges
Big Lodge Espresso - the Espresso Tipi in Browning
Big Lodge Espresso – the Espresso Tipi in Browning
Cowboy Museum in a Native American town
Cowboy Museum in a Native American town
Murals on the side of a shop in Browning
Mural on the side of a shop in Browning
Metal Teepees in front of a shop in Browning
Metal Teepees in front of a shop in Browning
Another nice mural in Browning, Montana
Another nice mural in Browning, Montana

From Browning we headed east again towards Cut Bank, we took a small detour off of US Hwy 2 to visit the Camp Disappointment historic site and monument near milepost 233.  There is a historical marker as well as a large obelisk monument dedicated to the site.

Camp Disappointment Historical Sign
Camp Disappointment Historical Sign
Camp Disappointment Monument west of Cut Bank, Montana
Camp Disappointment Monument west of Cut Bank, Montana

The biggest disappointment is all of the graffiti on the obelisk.  I don’t know why people feel like they need to vandalize monuments like this.

Close up of text on the monument
Close up of text on the monument
Another shot of Camp Disappointment Monument
Another shot of Camp Disappointment Monument

From Camp Disappointment we continued east into Cut Bank.  The skies were clear blue and it was a great opportunity to stop and get some close up shots of the Blackfoot Warriors, made out of scrap metal. These were created by native Blackfeet artist Jay Polite Laber and were commissioned by the Blackfeet Tribal Leaders.  They were created in 2000.  He actually created a set of these to welcome travelers into the Blackfeet reservation from all four directions — the northern site is at the US/Canadian border on US 89,  the eastern site in East Glacier on US Hwy 2, the western site is near Cut Bank on US Hwy 2 (these are below), and the southern site is on US 89 near Birch Creek and Heart Butte.

Blackfeet Warriors by Jay Polite Laber, in East Glacier, Montana
Blackfeet Warriors by Jay Polite Laber, in Cut Bank, Montana
Warrior 1
Warrior 1 – by Jay Polite Laber, near Cut Bank, Montana
Warrior 2
Warrior 2 – by Jay Polite Laber, near Cut Bank, Montana
The Warriors, by Jay Polite
The Warriors, by Jay Polite
Closeup of horse
Closeup of horse

From the warriors we went through town and made the requisite stop at the world’s largest penguin!

Cut Bank Penguin
Cut Bank Penguin

Being another train town, there is a large Train Bridge in Cutbank

Cut Bank Creek Trestle, built in 1900
Cut Bank Creek Trestle, built in 1900

Even though we had a busy morning and got into Shelby around noon, we were then again back on the road north towards Sweetgrass and off to visit a Hutterite colony, which was an amazing experience.

Striped fields in Northern Montana
Striped fields in Northern Montana
Blue roofed church in Sweetgrass, Montana
Blue roofed church in Sweetgrass, Montana
Another view of the Blue Roofed Church
Another view of the Blue Roofed Church

From Sweetgrass we headed west on a dirt road  towards the Hillside Colony of the Hutterites.  AS we visited we learned some amazing things: the Hutterites are almost totally communal.  All of them share everything.  Unlike the Amish, the Hutterites have adopted technology and are fabulously industrious.  They make their own clothes, they grow most of their own food, they all live in a small community.  Their homes are sparse.  It should be noted that I took a number of photos, with their permission, but, by their request, very few and only select photos are being added below.

Jerusalem Rocks near Sweetgrass
Jerusalem Rocks near Sweetgrass

We saw the above rock formations on the way to Hillside.  However, these were just an inkling of the bigger ones, which I have visited in the past.

On the road to the Hillside  Colony
On the road to the Hillside Colony
The Hillside Community
The Hillside Community

As seen above, the Hutterites in Hillside Colony live in the prefab buildings as seen above.  The apartments are small and have little or no belongings in them.  Each of the steps represent a single domicile.

The belongings in the kitchen
The belongings in the kitchen

One thing noticed immediately, there are no stoves, ovens or refrigerators in the homes.  They have a couple of chairs, perhaps a bench, a bed or two and some dressers.  The bed frames, dressers, kitchen tables, the cup holder above and the chairs are all hand made in the community.

Home made chairs
Home made chairs
The hat rack - the men wear hats in the public
The hat rack – the men wear hats in the public
Laundry Carts are used and they hang the laundry out. They do use washing machines
Laundry Carts are used and they hang the laundry out. They do use washing machines
Communal Dining Room
Communal Dining Room

All meals are eaten together as a community — men on one side, women on the other.  The women prepare the meals while the men work out on the farms, the chicken coops, the woodworking section, or otherwise.

Hat hanger in the Dining Room
Hat hanger in the Dining Room
Hutterite Food Storage
Hutterite Food Storage

Overall, we were so impressed about the kindness of the Hutterite folk.  We picked up some potatoes, home made sausage and some of their wonderful bread.  They are as industrious as bees and ants and all share completely.  Each individual has their own assigned jobs, many for life.  It was a great visit.

Cousin Thomas
Cousin Thomas

One last little visit was made while we were in Shelby. We got to visit Harry J. Benjamin, who makes all kinds of trains and pedal cars.  Below is his “De-Railed” Steam Engine, which he shows off in parades in northern Montana. This engine pulls a set of cars that reaches 60 feet long.

Harry J. Benjamin
Harry J. Benjamin

Well past his 80’s, Mr. Benjamin, a former farmer and mechanic, is famed in the area for building things out of junk parts and pieces.  He has built a number of trains, some other vehicles for the local high school and a number of children’s toys.

Harry driving his smaller train
Harry driving his smaller train
Smokin...
Smokin…
Benjamin's creations - a couple of tractors
Benjamin’s creations – a couple of tractors
De-Railed
De-Railed
Toy Tractor
Toy Tractor
Grandkids Enjoy the Ride
Grandkids Enjoy the Ride

Here’s a video of one of his creations:

But, I must admit, the BEST part of the entire visit to Shelby was this….

....Reading to the Grandkids
….reading to the Grandkids

Next stop…heading home via US 2.  Watch soon for the next great adventures on Less Beaten Paths.

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Road Trip Home from Idaho – Day 1: Rexburg, ID to Shelby, MT

Gold Butte, Montana
Gold Butte in Northern Montana as seen from Frontier Bar near Shelby, Montana

Mar. 27, 2013: After almost two weeks in Rexburg working with my new employer DSN America, it was time to return back to Kentucky and home sweet home.  They had flown Julianne out to Idaho, so I was blessed to have my very best friend and sweetheart with me for the long drive home, with a brief stopover in Shelby, Montana to see our daughter and their kids.  It was an easy first day.


Rexburg, ID to Shelby, MT

We left Rexburg in the afternoon and eventually zipped up I-15.  We crossed over Monida Pass, which serve as the border between Idaho and Montana. The mountains were still snow covered and beautiful, especially as we came close to the Montana border.

Lima Peaks south of Lima, Montana
Garfield Mtn (R) and Lima Peaks just south of Lima, Montana

Lima, Montana is just a small dot on the map and there is not much there.  But, it is really a quite unique place.  There are barely 200 people living in the town at the base of the mountains.  Many of the buildings are really old.  In some respects, the town almost looks like it is a period movie set rather than a real town. The Red River runs nearby the small town.  Lima was originally called Allerdice until a train station for the Utah and Northern was built there.  It was changed to Spring Hill at that time.  It was eventually changed to Lima by Henry Thompson, who named it for his former home in Lima, Wisconsin.

Downtown Lima, Montana
Downtown Lima, Montana

We drove around the small town, much of which was dirt roads.  There is a woodworker that makes whirly-gigs, a couple of interesting buildings and a unique kitschy store front.

Down Moose Alley to the hand made wood toys place
Down Moose Alley to the hand made wood toys place
Wood Shop was closed when we got there.
Wood Shop was closed when we got there
Whirly-gigs
Whirly-gigs
Peat Bar and Hotel in Lima, Montana
Peat Bar and Hotel in Lima, Montana – Home of the Cook Your Own Steak
Peat Hotel - Lima, Montana
Peat Hotel – Lima, Montana
Peat Bar & Steak House
Peat Bar & Steak House

We also found the Lima Historical Society building, originally built in 1880.  It was originally called the Bailey Building, having been built and resided in by E.A. Bailey and sons, as a Mercantile.  It really did evoke an Old West feel to the place.

Historical Museum
Lima Historical Society Building – Lima Skyscraper
Historical Museum
Lima Historical Society

Perhaps the most interesting place we saw in town was the Wild West Weed Patch, at least that is what I think it is called based on the writing on the Saw Blade sign.  The shop was not open, but there were a number of unique things there.  Still,  I am certainly not sure what it is called.  The closest thing I have ever seen to this kind of hodge podge is Hillybilly Hotdogs in Lesage, West Virginia. (See my Trip Journal of my West Virginia Trip with photos)

The Weed Patch
The Wild West Weed Patch?? – shades of West Virginia’s Hillbilly Hotdogs
Weed Patch Sign
Wild West Weed Patch Sign – Lima, Montana
Steak and Burgers
Steak and Burgers – Lima, Montana
Ice Cream Cones
Ice Cream Cones – Lima, Montana
Lots of Stuff
Lots of Stuff
FJ's Skull?
FJ’s Skull?

After our little diversion in Lima we continued north on I-15 until we got to Red Rock Ranch Rd., south of Dillon.  On my trip down to Rexburg I had passed a ranch with hundreds of buffalo and I wanted a closer look on the way back to Shelby.  So, the night before the trip there I did some research and discovered it was one of Ted Turner’s Buffalo Ranches.  Called Red Rock Ranch, it could kind of be reached by taking Exit 29, north of Dell, Montana.  We went under the freeway and then turned right and almost immediately the road was a dirt road.  We followed it north, but alas, no buffalo to be seen.  So, after almost getting all the way to Clark Canyon Reservoir, we turned around.  Shortly down the road off to my left (the car window was open), I heard some birds squawking.  At first I thought they were geese, but they sounded different.  Then, all of a sudden I saw these two HUGE birds zip on past.  I whipped out the camera and took a bunch of shots hoping that one would reveal the secret.  Here are a couple of the shots of what I realized were Red-Crested Sandhill Cranes.  I had never seen these in the wild so it was a real treat.

Sandhill Cranes near Red Rock Ranch in Montana
Sandhill Cranes near Red Rock Ranch in Montana
Sandhill Cranes near Red Rock Ranch in Montana
Sandhill Cranes near Red Rock Ranch in Montana

Such beautiful birds!!

Well, we did finally get to see the buffalo, but not until we were continuing north on I-15.  I was determined to get some photos, so we stopped and I took these from my car on the side of the interstate.

Ted Turner's Buffaloes on Red Rock Ranch
Ted Turner’s Buffaloes on Red Rock Ranch
More of the Buffaloes
More of the Buffaloes
Buffaloes at Red Rock Ranch Rd. in Southern Montana
Buffaloes at Red Rock Ranch Rd. in Southern Montana

Thank goodness for telephoto lenses!!

We continued north and made a brief stop in Dillon.  I wanted to just kind of drive through the town and get a glimpse of it.  I had seen in my research that it had a very nice courthouse.

Dillon, Montana
Big Moose Statue in Dillon, Montana

I saw this moose, to add to my collection, but the lighting was not too good.  It was across the street from the post office.

Mural in Dillon, Montana
Mural in Dillon, Montana
Beaverhead County Courthouse
Beaverhead County Courthouse
Hotel Metlen in Dillon, Montana
Hotel Metlen in Dillon, Montana

The courthouse was one of the nice ones such as the ones can be seen in Texas and other places.  But, it was not the only unique building.  The Hotel Metlen was also a nice building. It was built in 1897 and is now apparently up for sale, based on the link above.

We then continued north on I-15 towards Butte and made a brief stop for fuel

Welcome to Butte
Welcome to Butte

After Butte we zipped up the interstate through Helena and and then a brief stop in Great Falls to get a birthday present before heading to Shelby.  Saw a nice George Washington statue at the Mall in Great Falls.  Similar to the statues I saw in Jackson, Wyoming done by Gary Lee Price, but I am not sure if it his work.

George Washington at mall in Great Falls
George Washington at mall in Great Falls
Cuddling with GW
Cuddling with GW

Finally, we made our way to Shelby to visit the grandchildren.  We spent three nights in Shelby and during that time did a number of things.  These will be noted in the next post.

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