A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The J Things #AtoZChallenge

In 2018 I  will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada.  I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.

 

Judy Garland Birthplace – Grand Rapids, Minnesota

Sumoflam at Judy Garland birthplace in Grand Rapids, MN
Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, MN

Jakeman’s Maple Syrup – Beachville, Ontario

Jakeman’s Maple Products – Beachville, Ontario
Jakeman’s Sign

Jackalopes Everywhere – Superior, Wisconsin; Wall, South Dakota; Douglas, Wyoming; Fort Worth, Texas

Jackalope Crossing
A cuddly Jackalope at Wall Drug, SD
A Jackalope Bird or something at Gronk’s in Superior, Wisconsin
Douglas, Wyoming Jackalope
Jackalope on top of a car dealership in Ft. Worth, TX

Jungle Jim’s Restroom – Cincinnati, Ohio

Jungle Jim’s Restroom entrances are deceptive. They actually lead to immaculate huge restrooms.

Jimmy’s Ice Cream – Waldo, Arkansas

Jimmy’s Ice Cream – Waldo, Arkansas

Jolly, Texas

Jolly, Texas
I am being Jolly – I think

Juke Boxes – Mel’s Diner – San Francisco, California

Rockola Juke Boxes line the store and fill it with 50s and 60s music

Jerry Siegel / Joe Schuster – Creators of Superman – Cleveland, Ohio

Story of Superman at Joe Shuster’s former home
Superman Street signs at the corner of Kimberley and Parkwood in Cleveland – Jerry Siegel Lane and Lois Lane
A plaque in front of the Jerry Siegel house gives the history of his work.
Action Comics blowups at Joe Schuster Home
Amor St. has become Joe Shuster Lane. It too is on Parkwood (known also as Lois Lane)

James Frank Kotera – JFK The Twine Ball Man – Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin

James Frank Kotera – JFK – The Twine Ball Man of Lake Nebagamon, WI

Jumbo the Elephant Statue – St. Thomas, Ontario

Sumoflam with Jumbo in 2008

JELL-O Museum – Le Roy, New York

JELL-O Museum in LeRoy, New York
Head shot of JELL-O Cow in Leroy, NY

Future Birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk – Riverside, Iowa

Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk in Riverside, IA

Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin

Another of the premiere roadside attractions in America!!

Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
20 foot tall Jurustic Park dragon in Marshfield, WI
Jurustic Park

J.C. Penney Mother Store – Kemmerer, Wyoming

Where it all started

J.C. Penney Mother Store

Jesus in Cowboy Boots – Evergreen Cemetery – Paris, Texas

The famed “Jesus in Cowboy Boots” monument at Evergreen Cemetery in Paris, TX

Jolly Green Giant – Blue Earth, Minnesota

Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, MN

Jerusalem Rocks – Sweetgrass, Montana

Jerusalem Rocks near Sweetgrass, Montana
Jerusalem Rocks near Sweetgrass
Sumoflam at Jerusalem Rocks in December 2012

Juneau, Alaska

Downtown Juneau Alaska
Cruise Ship in Juneau

Jelly Belly Room – Santa’s Candy Castle – Santa Claus, Indiana

One of the Jelly Belly Walls
SCORE! Tabasco flavored Jelly Belly candies!! How exciting!

John Wayne House – Winterset, Iowa

Birthplace of John Wayne, Winterset, Iowa
John Wayne Drive, Winterset, Iowa

Jeffersonville, Indiana

Welcome to Jeffersonville
The Howard House – one of 12 floodwall murals in Jeffersonville

Three Jamestowns – Jamestown, New York; Jamestown, North Dakota; Jamestown, Virginia

Large Lucy Mural in Jamestown, NY painted by Gary Peters Jr. and Gary Peters Sr.
Lucy Desi Museum – Jamestown, NY
Frontier Village, an old-timey Western Village in Jamestown, ND
World’s Largest Buffalo in Jamestown, ND
My sons Seth and Sol on deck of one of the ships in Jamestown, VA in August 1995
Kids in the Jamestown Settlement in August 1995

Joplin, Montana

Joplin, Montana…Biggest Little Town on Earth

James Garfield Monument – Lake View Cemetery – Cleveland, Ohio

James Garfield Statue inside Garfield Monument
The James Garfield Memorial at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland

Jackalope Capital of the World – Douglas, Wyoming

Get your Jackalope Hunting License Here

My Official Jackalope Hunting License from Douglas, WY
New Douglas Chamber of Commerce Logo with a Jackalope
Large Jackalope – Douglas, WY
Kissing the Jackalope goodbye

Joseph Smith Cabin – Palmyra, New York

LDS Church founder Joseph Smith’s Cabin in Palmyra, NY

Big Jud’s Gourmet Burgers – Rexburg, Idaho

Big Jud’s Gourmet Burgers, Rexburg, ID
Total indulgence in a Big Jud’s “small” burger

Jaarsma Bakery – Pella, Iowa

Jaarsma Bakery – Pella, Iowa
Yummy Dutch Goodies at Jaarsma Bakery

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Welcome to Jackson, Wyoming!!
Jackson, Wyoming and Ski Slope
Antler Arch of Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Joe Mama’s Fine Italian – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Joe Mama’s Fine Italian Restaurant

Jacobson Park – Lexington, Kentucky

My Happy Place

Lovely parhelion (sun dog) over Jacobson Lake in December 2016
Winter sunrise at Jacobson Park
Fall at Jacobson Park

Jamaica Beach – Galveston, Texas

Jamaica Beach Water Tower

Jesus of the Ozarks – Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Jesus of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, AR

Joseph, Oregon

Sacajawea Peak – Joseph, Oregon
Giant Eagle Statue – Joseph, Oregon

If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon.  My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2

 

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Montana Roadtrip: Taking the Hi-Line Across Northern Montana

US Route 2 Montana - The Hi-Line
US Route 2 Montana – The Hi-Line

My trip along Route 2 continued from Glasgow, Montana westward along what is known as the Montana Hi-Line (See my May 2013 post about a previous drive on a portion of the Hi-Line).  Back in May last year I drove through to Glasgow and then south.  On this trip I tried to spend a little more time in some of the smaller towns on the road and capture the essence of what I feel is a dieing breed hanging on.  In fact, to proclaim their existence, many of the towns have a big sign on the highway to proclaim “Hey, we’re here!”

Chester, Montana welcome sign on West side of town
Chester, Montana welcome sign on West side of town – one of many signs along the Hi-Line

Ultimately, I would drive Route 2 to where it intersects with US Route 89 on the eastern edge of Glacier National Park. That would be the end of my 1165 mile jaunt on US Route 2. (According to Google Maps, it is 1165 miles from downtown Ironwood, MI to the US 2/US 89 Intersection near Browning, MT.)

Ironwood, MI to US 89
US Route 2 from Ironwood, MI to US 89 near Browning, MT
US Highway 2 in eastern Montana
US Highway 2 in eastern Montana, just west of Glasgow

After spending the night in an old 1970s style motel in Glasgow, Montana, it was back on the road.  My last trip through Glasgow was fleeting so I couldn’t capture some of the essence of this nice little town on the eastern edge of Northern Montana. The population of just over 3200 is friendly and accommodating.

Campbell Lodge neon sign in Glasgow, Montana
Campbell Lodge neon sign in Glasgow, Montana

Downtown Glasgow offers some old motel signs, ghost signs and some other unique sites.

Old Glasgow Courier sign on a building
Old Glasgow Courier sign on a building
Valley Cinemas has two theaters to accommodate the populace in and around Glasgow
Valley Cinemas has two theaters to accommodate the populace in and around Glasgow
Old Neon Sign in Glasgow, Montana
Old Neon Sign in Glasgow, Montana
Train mural in Glasgow Montana n the side of a building
Train mural in Glasgow Montana n the side of a building
Old Pool Hall Sign in Glasgow, Montana
Old Pool Hall Sign in Glasgow, Montana
Elk Mural in Glasgow, Montana
Elk Mural in Glasgow, Montana

A drive back to the east part of town leads to the bar with an airplane in the building.

Hangar Bar and Grill in Glasgow, Montana
Hangar Bar and Grill in Glasgow, Montana

This bar is unique….a real small plane stuck in the building and a dinosaur out front guarding the place.

Dino and Dave at Hangar Bar in Glasgow, MT
Dino and Dave at Hangar Bar in Glasgow, MT
A Tin Man Sign in front of an air conditioning business in Glasgow, Montana
A Tin Man Sign in front of an air conditioning business in Glasgow, Montana

As one proceeds west on US Hwy 2 out of Glasgow, you will see dinosaurs up on the hillside. These and the other animals and sculptures (as well as the dino at the Hangar) are all creations of artist Buck Samuelson, who offers them for sale.

For Sale by Buck Samuelson in Glasgow, Montana
For Sale by Buck Samuelson in Glasgow, Montana
Big Dino on hill made by Buck Samuelson in Glasgow, Montana
Big Dino on hill made by Buck Samuelson in Glasgow, Montana
Buck Samuelson sculptures on a hillside in Glasgow, Montana
Buck Samuelson sculptures on a hillside in Glasgow, Montana

US Highway 2 has a number of historical signs along the way. The first one west of Glasgow is all about Buffalo Country.

Buffalo Country Historical Marker on US Hwy 2 in Eastern Montana
Buffalo Country Historical Marker on US Hwy 2 in Eastern Montana

The first town west of Glasgow is the Hinsdale, Montana.  Not much here, but they have a unique church building where the steeple is planted in the ground in FRONT of the church and not on top it.

Hinsdale United Methodist Church, Hinsdale, Montana
Hinsdale United Methodist Church, Hinsdale, Montana

The next little town on the way is Saco, Montana. This town would have faded away long ago if not for its unique place in history as one of the homes of news anchor Chet Huntley, whose father worked for the railroad.  There is one room schoolhouse in Saco that he attended.  As well, Saco had two years of bragging rights as the Guinness World Record holder for making the world’s largest hamburger, building the 6,040-pound burger from the beef of 17 cattle in 1999.

Welcome to Saco, Montana
Welcome to Saco, Montana
Wooden Grain Elevator in Saco, Montana
Wooden Grain Elevator in Saco, Montana
Saco Town Hall - another metal sign
Saco Town Hall – another metal sign
Old Lee Ghost Sign in Saco, Montana
Old Lee Ghost Sign in Saco, Montana
1970s Style Motel sign in the small town of Saco, MT
1970s Style Motel sign in the small town of Saco, MT
Remains of an old gas station in Saco, MT
Remains of an old gas station in Saco, MT
Blackbird perched on a post in Saco, MT
Blackbird perched on a post in Saco, MT

Just west of town is the “Sleeping Buffalo Rock” which is actually listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Sleeping Buffalo Rock sign near Saco, Montana
Sleeping Buffalo Rock sign near Saco, Montana
Sleeping Buffalo Rock, Saco, MT
Sleeping Buffalo Rock, Saco, MT

From Saco US Hwy 2 heads southwest as it circles around Lake Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge. From there the road passes through Malta, Montana along nice grazing lands for cattle and horses.

US Route 2 west of Saco, MT
US Route 2 west of Saco, MT
Horses grazing on a ranch east of Malta, Montana
Horses grazing on a ranch east of Malta, Montana

Malta, Montana is a nice small town on the Milk River.  It has its share of old signs and old dinosaur bones.

Welcome to Malta, Montana sign.  Most of the towns along the Hi-Line have metal welcome signs.
Welcome to Malta, Montana sign. Most of the towns along the Hi-Line have metal welcome signs.
Villa Theater in Malta, Montana. One of many old theater fronts to be seen along the Hi-Line of Montana
Villa Theater in Malta, Montana. One of many old theater fronts to be seen along the Hi-Line of Montana
Old neon sign for the Palace Theater in Malta, Montana
Old neon sign for the Palace Theater in Malta, Montana
Ghost Sign in Malta, Montana
Ghost Sign in Malta, Montana

Malta is also home to the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum and Field Station, which is part of the Montana Dinosaur Trail. The Dinosaur Trail includes 14 different museums around Montana that feature remains and history pertaining to dinosaurs. There are eight locations on the Hi-Line from Glasgow to Rudyard.  There are a couple more on US 89 south of Glacier National Park.

Dinosaur Trail Banner in Malta, Montana
Dinosaur Trail Banner in Malta, Montana

The next stop on the road is the small town of Dodson, Montana.  They have a new post office, but the old post office sign still remains as a reminder of the past.

Old Post Office Sign in Dodson, MT
Old Post Office Sign in Dodson, MT
Old building in Dodson, MT
Old building in Dodson, MT
An old sign on a shop in Dodson, MT
An old sign on a shop in Dodson, MT
Old neon sign in Dodson, MT
Old neon sign in Dodson, MT

From Dodson, US Route 2 passes through the Fort Belknap Reservation, home of the Gros Venture and Assiniboine Tribes.

Welcome to Fort Belknap, MT
Welcome to Fort Belknap, MT
Horse Capture Community Park sign, another metal sign located along the Hi-Line in Montana.  This is in Fort Belknap.
Horse Capture Community Park sign, another metal sign located along the Hi-Line in Montana. This is in Fort Belknap.
When I passed through Fort Belknap, there was a Pow Wow going on.  You can see the Tipi over the fence.
When I passed through Fort Belknap, there was a Pow Wow going on. You can see the Tipi over the fence.
Fort Belknap Native Americans getting the cattle rounded up.
Fort Belknap Native Americans getting the cattle rounded up.

From Fort Belknap, US Route 2 heads northwest into the small town of Harlem, Montana.  This town is about 50% white and 43% Native American. Like the other towns, it has a metal welcome sign.

Welcome to Harlem, MT
Welcome to Harlem, MT
Downtown Harlem, MT
Downtown Harlem, MT

Not too far west of Harlem is the small dot of a town called Zurich (pronounced Zoo-rich by the locals). Like many small stations on the railroad, Zurich receives its name from an older, far more impressive city. Legend has it that to name many of their stations, railroad executives would open an atlas at random and point to a city. Although it may seem incongruous that a town on the plains be named after a noted European mountain city, from Zurich,  westward bound visitors could catch their first glimpse of the Bear Paw Mountains. It is now basically a place for picnics along the Milk River.

Zurich, Montana - a small dot on the Hi-Line
Zurich, Montana – a small dot on the Hi-Line
Old wooden elevator in Zurich, Montana.  One of the few buildings there.
Old wooden elevator in Zurich, Montana. One of the few buildings there.
One of many old deserted buildings in Zurich, Montana
One of many old deserted buildings in Zurich, Montana

The next stop on the Hi-Line heading west is Chinook, Montana.  This small town of about 1500 has some character.  It used to be the home of a large sugarbeet factory.  They do have one of the more unique high school sports mascots in the country — the Sugarbeeters.

Chinook Sugarbeeters logo
Chinook Sugarbeeters logo
Chinook, Montana
Chinook, Montana

There are still many evidences of the past in Chinook.  For instance, the Bear Paw Credit Union uses a remodeled old fashioned gas station that still has the old pumps out front.

Bear Paw Credit Union in Chinook, Montana uses an old gas station
Bear Paw Credit Union in Chinook, Montana uses an old gas station
Old Chinook Hotel neon sign
Old Chinook Hotel neon sign
Silos in Chinook invite you to get Lost in Montana
Silos in Chinook invite you to Get Lost in Montana (see link)

I had a lot of other photos of Chinook from a previous trip I took along the Hi-Line in March 2013.  You can see that post HERE.

Nez Perce Trail on US Route 2 near Chinook, Montana
Nez Perce Trail on US Route 2 near Chinook, Montana

Chinook lies along the Nez Perce National Historic Trail which goes from Wallowa Lake in northeast Oregon (near Joseph, OR — I visited there in 2007), then crosses Idaho and goes south along the border of Idaho and Montana, through Yellowstone then heads north though Billings, MT and finally ends at the  Bear Paw Battlefield, which is about 15 miles south of town.  The Battlefield Park commemorates the final battle of the Nez Perce War of 1877 where the Nez Perce ceased fighting on October 5th, 1877.

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce
Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce

It was at Bear Paw that Chief Joseph gave his famous speech in which he said, “Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.” The Nez Perce Trail, like the Oyate Trail of South Dakota and the Trail of Tears in the Southeast US, among others, are integral parts of American history that help us to better understand the plight of the Native Americans.  I am grateful to continue to learn about these great people who lived on this land long before the Europeans found their way here.

Big Bison in Havre, created by Havre resident Cory Holmes
Big Bison in Havre, created by Havre resident Cory Holmes

From Chinook I zipped through Havre, having visited it extensively in 2013. But, I did stop briefly for a good shot with the large bison that had been made by Cory Holmes, who used three miles of old telegraph wire to create this nine-foot long, six-foot tall 2000 pound bison.

Cory Holmes' Bison in Havre, Montana
Cory Holmes’ Bison in Havre, Montana

Just west of Havre there is a road called Smith Frisno Road which crosses over the railroad tracks heading north. It eventually leads to a large ranch, but along the way many a visitor has stopped for a photo of an old abandoned schoolhouse that sits out in the prairie.  I visited there last year, but wanted to grab a couple more shots as this is one of those iconic places that begs to be photographed.

Old Prairie School House on Smith-Frisno Road west of Havre. I wanted this one in black and white...
Old Prairie School House on Smith-Frisno Road west of Havre. I wanted this one in black and white…
Another shot of the old school house
Another shot of the old school house

The next town west of Havre is Kremlin, Montana.  Yes, an unusual name for a town.  But, as the story goes, the town had some Russian immigrants that were working on the Great Northern Railway who looked off in the distance at the mountains and were reminded of the Kremlin back home.  The name apparently stuck.

Kremlin, Montana -- USA Style
Kremlin, Montana — USA Style
A line of grain silos in Kremlin, MT
A line of grain silos in Kremlin, MT

After Kremlin there are a couple of other small towns before reaching the small historic town of Rudyard, Montana, which actually has three small museums – the Depot Museum, the Dinosaur Museum (part of the Dinosaur Trail) and a Vintage Auto Museum. Using the old railroad depot, the historical society renovated it for a museum in which to house both the written and physical history of the Hi-Line towns of Joplin, Inverness, Rudyard, Hingham, Gildford, and Kremlin.

Welcome to Rudyard ... one of the classic signs, "Lots of nice people and one sorehead"
Welcome to Rudyard … one of the classic signs, “596 Nice People and 1 Old Sore Head” And no, I am not the Sore Head!
Old car relics at the Depot Museum in Rudyard, MT
Old car relics at the Depot Museum in Rudyard, MT
An old tractor at the Depot Museum in Rudyard, MT
An old tractor at the Depot Museum in Rudyard, MT
The Depot Museum in Rudyard, MT
The Depot Museum in Rudyard, MT
Veterans Memorial at the Depot Museum in Rudyard, MT
Veterans Memorial at the entrance to the Depot Museum in Rudyard, MT

Then there is my penchant for “collecting” scrap metal art.  I came across a place in Rudyard that had three pieces of scrap metal animals in the yard, including a bison, a deer and an elk.  I spoke to a guy there and he said “someone in town made them, but I am not sure who.” Surprising to me that in a town of just under 600 people that they don’t all know who does this kind of thing….

Scrap metal bison in Rudyard, Montana
Scrap metal bison in Rudyard, Montana
Scrap Metal Deer in Rudyard, Montana
Scrap Metal Deer in Rudyard, Montana

Then there is the semi-famous dinosaur skeleton sculpture just west of town on US Highway 2, probably advertising the Dinosaur Museum in Rudyard.  I was able to contact the Rudyard Museum and found out that this old guy was made by a farmer named Bryon Wolery, owner of Wolery Farms.  He apparently made two of them and one is on his farm.

The dinosaur sculpture off of US Highway 2 near Rudyard, made by farmer Byron Wolery of Inverness, MT
The dinosaur sculpture off of US Highway 2 just west of Rudyard, made by farmer Bryon Wolery of Inverness, MT
Sumoflam and the Dino
Sumoflam and the Dino

The road west passes through the small town of Inverness, MT and then past Joplin.

US Route 2 - The Montana Hi-Line - long and straight out of Inverness heading toward Joplin, MT
US Route 2 – The Montana Hi-Line – long and straight out of Inverness heading toward Joplin, MT
Joplin, Montana...Biggest Little Town on Earth
Joplin, Montana…Biggest Little Town on Earth
Joplin, Montana sign - another of the many metal signs on the Hi-Line
Joplin, Montana sign – another of the many metal signs on the Hi-Line

From Joplin it is another 20 miles to the next town, which is Chester.  It is much bigger than most of the towns between Havre and Shelby and functions as the county seat for Liberty County. Chester began as a watering and coal loading station for the Great Northern Railroad steam engines around 1891.  The name “Chester” was apparently chosen by the first telegraph operator in the town and named in honor of his hometown in Pennsylvania.

Chester, Montana welcome sign
Chester, Montana welcome sign on east side of town – showing its history with trains and grains
Main Street, Chester, Montana
Main Street, Chester, Montana
Wall Murals in Chester, Montana
Wall Murals in Chester, Montana
Old Sugar Shack Diner, Chester, Montana
Old Sugar Shack Diner, Chester, Montana

North of Chester the Sweet Grass Hills can be seen in the distance. They are actually in the northern part of Liberty County and are actually mountains. They are unique in that they are the highest isolated peaks in the United States.  Rising to nearly 7,000 feet, these mountains are volcanic in origin and believed to be millions of years old.

Sweet Grass Hills north of US Hwy 2
Sweet Grass Hills north of US Hwy 2
The Sweet Grass Hills road sign
The Sweet Grass Hills road sign
Close up of Gold Butte - mountains on fire
Close up of Gold Butte – one of the Sweet Grass Hills, rises about 6,500 feet (taken in 2013)

Between Chester and Shelby there is not much, but there is an old neon sign advertising the Galata Campground.  So 1960s….  The town itself is practically a ghost town.

Motel Galata on US Hwy 2 - The Hi-Line - in Galata, Montana
Motel Galata on US Hwy 2 – The Hi-Line – in Galata, Montana
Galata, MT
Galata, Montana is practically a ghost town

Shelby, Montana is another 25 miles down US Route 2 and is by far the largest town along the Hi-Line after Havre. I have written extensively about Shelby on a couple of occasions, so here is the token photo of this large railroad town.

Main Street of Shelby, Montana
Main Street of Shelby, Montana
Shelby, Montana -- as seen from US Route 2
Shelby, Montana — as seen from US Route 2

After driving through Shelby, US Route 2 gains altitude and the huge Glacier Wind Farm can be seen.  This is actually quite unique for at night all of the turbines blink bright red all along the hills west of Shelby.

Glacier Wind Farm near Shelby, Montana
Glacier Wind Farm near Shelby, Montana
An old cabin falls apart in the midst of the giant wind turbines of the Glacier Wind Farm near Shelby, Montana
An old cabin falls apart in the midst of the giant wind turbines of the Glacier Wind Farm near Shelby, Montana
These are giants out standing in their field!
These are giants out standing in their field!

From the top of these hills the snow covered peaks of Glacier National Park and the Rocky Mountains can be seen in the distance.  But one must pass through Cut Bank, Montana along the way.  Named after the creek that cuts its banks along the white clay, the town got its start in the 1890s. The Cut Bank Creek Trestle that crosses the 150 foot deep gorge was built in 1900 but is still in use by the Burlington Santa Fe as well as Amtrak. Today, the town is still vibrant with the railroad and Glacier National Park tourism.  It is also the eastern border of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Cut Bank is also home to the “world’s largest penguin” with claims to be the “coldest spot in the nation,” though most sites with “Coldest Spots” lists don’t include it. (See Site 1 and Site 2)

Cut Bank Penguin
World’s Largest Penguin in Cut Bank, Montana
Cut Bank Creek Trestle, built in 1900
Cut Bank Creek Trestle, built in 1900
Blackfeet Chiefs guard the eastern gateway to the Blackfeet Reservation
Blackfeet Chiefs guard the eastern gateway to the Blackfeet Reservation at the western end of Cut Bank
Blackfeet Warriors by Jay Polite Laber, in East Glacier, Montana
Blackfeet Warriors by Jay Polite Laber, in East Glacier, Montana

After entering the reservation and not too far west of Cut Bank, there is an historic sign commemorating Camp Disappointment (see my 2013 post on this monument and more). This was the northernmost campsite for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Camp Disappointment Monument looking west towards Glacier National Park
Camp Disappointment Monument looking west towards Glacier National Park
Sumoflam at Camp Disappointment
Sumoflam at Camp Disappointment
US Highway 2 near Browning, Montana and US Highway 89
US Highway 2 near Browning, Montana and US Highway 89
A prairie dog scampers near the Camp Disappointment Monument
A prairie dog scampers near the Camp Disappointment Monument

As I closed in on Browning, Montana, US Highway 2 intersects with US Highway 89, one of the more spectacular N/S Highways in the United States.  This is the end of the approximately 1,169 mile long  trek along US Highway 2 from Ironwood, MI.

US Route 2 meets US Route 89 about 4 miles southeast of Browning, Montana
US Route 2 meets US Route 89 about 4 miles southeast of Browning, Montana
The end of this leg at US Highway 89
The end of this leg at US Highway 89

My next post will cover the trip south on US 89 from Browning all the way to Yellowstone National Park.

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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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