Wall Art in Lexington: PRHBTN 2015 Projects and more

prhbtnOnce again the great team at PRHBTN and all of its supporters have brought 4 great artists into Lexington to add 4 more lovely wall murals around Lexington.  These artists from New York, Italy and Portugal all visited Lexington and left with their art work colorizing more of town. (See updated map of all murals in Lexington embedded below)

Some PRHBTN Art on a wall in the Distillery District
Some PRHBTN Art on a wall in the Distillery District
Detail of Louis Armstrong mural in Lexington's East Side
Detail of Louis Armstrong mural in Lexington’s East Side

The first week of November I made my rounds to grab shots of these murals. I have done similar posts in the past ( see 2014 2013a 2013b ) and this is the 2015 version.

Unlike the art the past couple of years, we actually have a piece that is probably closer to conventional wall art rather than the street art influences, especially in Portuguese artist ODIETH‘s marvelous Louis Armstrong mural that sits alongside the Lighthouse Ministries Church on Elm Tree Lane across from the Lyric Theatre.

Louis Armstrong Mural by Sergio Odeith from Portugal, for PRHBTN 2015
Louis Armstrong Mural by Sergio Odeith from Portugal, for PRHBTN 2015

 

Head to downtown Lexington and the Victorian Square Parking Garage on Main and Broadway and there is now a third mural decorating the walls.  This time it is on the wall facing Main Street and the mural can be seen from the corner of Main and Broadway.  This mural was for the Audubon Society and is of a wild turkey.  The art was done by Italian mural artist hiTNES.

Wild Turkey by hiTNES for PRHBTN 2015 located on parking garage.
Wild Turkey by hiTNES for PRHBTN 2015 located on parking garage across from Victorian Square

12190491_10153699287852090_838511630_oThe most unusual of all of the paintings comes from New York artists Sheryo and the Yok. I am not sure what this one is all about, but I am thinking there is some basketball involved.  It is located on the side of the Oneness Boutique on Jersey St., near the corner with Maxwell.

Mural near UK campus by Sheryo and the Yok from New York.
Mural near UK campus by Sheryo and the Yok from New York.

12210924_10153711481137090_87531403_oAnd finally, the most retro and perhaps most colorful of all the paintings was the one done by Portuguese street artist MrDHEO.  This three section mural titled “What Goes Around Comes Around” on the side of Chase Brewing on Third Street and Jefferson is classy and intricate.

I really enjoyed looking at all of the detail that went into this.  And to think it was all done with spray paint is amazing to me.

Here are a few shots of this one.

Portuguese artist MrDHEO's fine piece by Chase Brewing
Portuguese artist MrDHEO’s fine piece “What Goes Around Comes Around” by Chase Brewing
Sumoflam at MrDHEO's painting
Sumoflam at MrDHEO’s painting
A painted tattoo
A painted tattoo
A MrDHO version of a Lucky Strike package...vintage
A MrDHO version of a Lucky Strike package…vintage
Sumoflam
Sumoflam and Master Dheo’s mural

Another tradition that seems to be associated with each annual PRHBTN gathering is the unscheduled and probably unplanned smaller pieces of art that find there way into the Lexington Distillery District, especially by the area where Ethereal Brewing is located on Manchester Dr. in Lexington.   This year some large cement cubes appeared and art has been added to them.  Among the artists that I could actually track down, one was Louisville’s Brrr.  Brrr is known for his popular bug-eyed character which you can see below.  A visit to Louisville will likely have an appearance of Brrr’s art show up.

Signature work of Louisville Street Artist BRRR
Signature work of Louisville Street Artist BRRR
Art on Cement Blocks in the Distillery District - artist unknown
Art on Cement Blocks in the Distillery District – artist unknown (well, I can’t read the tag anyway)
Unique bird using two sides and meeting in the corner - artist unknown
Unique bird using two sides and meeting in the corner – artist unknown
More unique art on blocks
More unique art on blocks – The Hot Dog King
Spacey Art
Spacey Art
A lovely Graffiti Panel rests on the water tank in the Distillery District - artist unknown
A lovely Graffiti Panel rests on the water tank in the Distillery District – artist unknown

Of course, besides the PRHBTN group’s great work, there has been other lovely and unique wall art popping up in Lexington since my last post in 2014.  Three really nice works that I have come across include the following:

Sunburst Wall at Mellow Mushroom Pizza in Lexington
Sunburst Wall at Mellow Mushroom Pizza in Lexington

I tried to research the artist for this outstanding sunface, but I may have to call Mellow Mushroom to find out.

MellowMush3

The front of Mellow Mushroom also includes some Native American art in the form of Kokopelli as seen on old petroglyphs in Arizona and New Mexico.  As a former tour guide on the Navajo and Hopi Indian Reservations and an enthusiast of the old Native American cultures of the Sinagua and the Anasazi, I immediately recognized Kokopelli,

Mellow Mushroom front
Mellow Mushroom front features renditions of Kokopelli

In another part of town, along Southland Drive, there is a Tattoo Shop called Horseshoe Tattoo which has a large mural on its side wall. Done in the tradition of street art, it is both colorful and indicative of tattoo stylings.  I think it has been around for a couple of years, but I had only really noticed it in the past year.  So, I am including it in this year’s version of Lexington’s Wall art.

Tattoo Wall at Horseshoe Tattoo on Southland Drive in Lexington.
Tattoo Wall at Horseshoe Tattoo on Southland Drive in Lexington.
Opposite View
Opposite View
Detail of Tattoo
Detail of Tattoo Art

NO LONGER WITH US…..

2013 Lexington Distillery District mural, by Dronex Inc.
2013 Lexington Distillery District mural, by Dronex Inc. – NO LONGER WITH US

Then there is the sad news of two lovely works that are no longer around.  The first is the Distillery District wall, which was done in 2013 by Lexington Street Artists Dronex, Inc.  I noticed that this wall had been torn down to expand the parking lot.  (You can see my write up about this one ON THIS BLOG POST from 2014).

Char Downs mural on Hurst Office Building in downtown Lexington
Char Downs mural on Hurst Office Building in downtown Lexington – NO LONGER WITH US

A second lovely mural was painted over by new owners of the old Hurst Office Building at the end of Short Street in Lexington.  I read that there was some controversy over this one.  It is sad that someone would just paint over a wall that was painstakingly painted.  You can see more about this one on THIS BLOG POST.

UPDATED MURAL MAP

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Highway 61 Visited: The Blues Highway of Mississippi – Day 1

Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn have all sang about it. And now, Sumoflam has driven it. US Highway 61 cuts down the middle of Mississippi, all the way from Memphis to Natchez and more.

Map of the Blues Highway (US 61) through Mississippi
Map of the Blues Highway (US 61) through Mississippi

Highway 61 is better known as “The Blues Highway” as many of the famed Blues musicians grew up along this swath of the state just east of the Mississippi River.

Sumoflam at the Blues Highway in Mississippi
Sumoflam at the Blues Highway in Mississippi

In July 2014 I had the opportunity to travel this famed highway from North to South, visit many of the small towns and learn more about Blues History. It was an amazing drive through rural Mississippi!

Alligator, Mississippi
Alligator, Mississippi

The highway, Route 61, actually extends 1407 miles north to south all the way from Wyoming, Minnesota to New Orleans. The highway generally follows the course of the Mississippi River, and is designated the Great River Road for much of its route. This route goes through St. Louis, Hannibal, MO, Davenport, IA, Memphis, Vicksburg and eventually to New Orleans. It’s “Blues Highway” designation really begins at the Mississippi/Tennessee in border in Memphis.

Mississippi Welcomes Me with Open Arms - Big Muffler man statue at the border
Mississippi Welcomes Me with Open Arms – Big Muffler man statue at the border

As you leave Memphis and cross into Mississippi on US 61, you are greeted immediately be a big Muffler Man statue and then the Blues Highway sign (as seen above) is in the same location.  The Blues Highway has become so popular that it even has its own website and they have developed a Blues Trail app (or for Android) for travelers too.

The Blues Highway Marker at the Gateway to the Blues.  One of dozens of markers along the US 61 and neighboring towns.
The Blues Highway Marker at the Gateway to the Blues. One of dozens of markers along the US 61 and neighboring towns.

The Blues Trail features dozens of historical markers along the way and their site features a comprehensive list with maps to each.  Due to my typically tight schedule, I was only able to hit a few of these.  Some that I missed include: B.B. King’s Birthplace, the historical “Birthplace of the Blues,” the Elvis Presley marker in Tupelo, the John Lee Hooker marker, the Johnny Winter marker (which I unfortunately overlooked when I visited Leland to see the birthplace of Kermit the Frog — see below), the birthplace of Muddy Waters and more. But, I did hit a few along the way.

Gateway to the Blues, Tunica, Mississippi
Gateway to the Blues, Tunica, Mississippi

My first stop, however, was at the “Gateway to the Blues” Visitors Center just north of Tunica on old US 61.  The Visitors Center is built in a rustic train depot, circa 1895.  It is filled with guitars, maps, souvenirs, etc.

Old Benches outside the Gateway to the Blues
Old Benches outside the Gateway to the Blues

Tunica is a big resort town along the Mississippi River, dotted with casinos, hotels and other resorts.  But, there is still some good old history.  On Magnolia Street near downtown Tunica is the “Tate Log House” which the locals claim has the distinction of being the “oldest and most traveled structure” in Tunica County.

The Tate Log House in Tunica, MS
The Tate Log House in Tunica, MS

The cabin was built in the 1840s near Robinsonville, Miss., and later purchased by Samuel Kerr in the 1860s. When Robert F. and Simpson Tate purchased the land in 1890, the cabin was converted to a plantation commissary.  In 1952, the Tate family sold the land to the another family and the cabin was moved south to Elsie, Miss., and then later to a place  near Austin, Miss., in the early 1990s.  Finally, in 2000, the house was donated to the Tunica Museum and moved again to its current location in Tunica.

The Tate Log House in Tunica, MS

The Tate Log House in Tunica, MS

The drive along this stretch of US 61 is flat as can be as it shadows the giant Mississippi River not too far to the west…

Sumoflam at US 61 south just south of Tunica, MS
Sumoflam at US 61 south just south of Tunica, MS
US 61 South of Tunica, MS
US 61 South of Tunica, MS

I could have stopped at some of the real small towns along the way, but it was getting later in the afternoon and I wanted to get to Vicksburg before dark, so I kept pushing on…into Clarksdale, Mississippi, which probably has one of the most renown Blues Highway markers and monuments.

Clarksdale Monument, Clarksdale, MS
Clarksdale Monument, Clarksdale, MS

Known as “The Crossroads”, where US 49 and US 61 meet, it is believed to be the legendary crossroads where famed blues guitarist Robert Johnson made his pact with the devil.  Robert Johnson was born in 1911 and only lived until 1938. He was a dirt-poor, African-American who would grow up, learn to sing and play the blues, and went on to become known the world over.  Since his death, his music has been picked up by some of the most well know rock stars of the 60s, 70s and on, including the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers – have recorded his songs.  In fact, Clapton has called Johnson “the most important blues singer that ever lived.” Someone has made a video with his famed “Cross Roads Blues.”

And of course, Eric Clapton has made this song immortal with a number of versions of this song.  In this video he pays homage to Johnson.

So, a visit to the Crossroads is a must on this trip.  I went down to the Crossroads!!

Sumoflam at the Crossroads in Clarksville, MS
Sumoflam at the Crossroads in Clarksdale, MS

Some say that new evidence suggests this is NOT the Crossroads where the famous pact was made.  I guess I should have made a visit down to Rosedale, but I didn’t have my rider by my side….

The Crossroads in Clarksdale, MS
The Crossroads in Clarksdale, MS

And of course, what is a visit to Mississippi without Bar-B-Q (which I didn’t get to try either).  Abe’s was right there at the Crossroads.

Abe's Bar-B-Q in Clarksdale, MS at the Crossroads
Abe’s Bar-B-Q in Clarksdale, MS at the Crossroads
Retro Greyhound Sign in Clarkdale, MS
Retro Greyhound Sign in Clarkdale, MS

Not far from the Greyhound Station is the “New Roxy” Theatre in the Historic New World District on Issaquena Road in Clarksdale. This old movie theater has been converted into a live event venue, with some very unique characteristics. What remains of the old theater is basically is a shell of the former theater with a sloping concrete floor, a masonry stage, lots of distressed brick walls, and a view of the night sky (as there is no longer a roof remaining. This rustic setting is home to many local blues shows and festivals.

New Roxy in Clarksdale, MS
New Roxy in Clarksdale, MS

Not too far from the New Roxy is a Blues Road marker for Sam Cooke (famous for songs such as “You Send Me, ” “Chain Gang,” and “A Change is Gonna Come,” which was sung by Bettye Lavette and Jon Bon Jovi at the inauguration celebration President Barack Obama.

Blues Road Marker for Sam Cooke in Clarksdale, MS
Blues Road Marker for Sam Cooke in Clarksdale, MS

Practically next to Sam Cooke’s marker is one for W.C. Handy, who lived on Issaquena Road.  Known by many as “Father of the Blues,” Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters. Though he was one of many musicians who played the distinctively American form of music known as the blues, he is credited with giving it its contemporary form. While Handy was not the first to publish music in the blues form, he took the blues from a regional music style with a limited audience to one of the dominant national forces in American music.  I recall playing his compositions in Jazz Band in high school…tunes such as “St. Louis Blues,”, “Beale St. Blues,” and more.

Historical Marker for W.C. Handy on Issaquena Rd. in Clarksdale, MS
Historical Marker for W.C. Handy on Issaquena Rd. in Clarksdale, MS

Another icon of Clarksdale is the historic Paramount Theater.  Originally known as the Marion Theatre, the facility opened in 1918 on Yazoo Avenue in Clarksdale. The theatre one of the first in the area to be built mainly for showing movies. During the 1930’s, the Marion Theatre was acquired by the Saenger Amusements chain, which went on to rename it to the current Paramount Theatre. The theater was in operation until 1986, but is apparently being renovated by the Mississippi Arts Council.

Paramount Theater in Clarksdale, MS
Paramount Theater in Clarksdale, MS

Of course, in a town borne of the blues, what better design for benches around town?

Musical Benches around Clarksdale, MS
Musical Benches around Clarksdale, MS

Continuing south on US 61 about 12 miles, I came to one of my “sought after destinations” in the town of Alligator, Mississippi (population abt. 200).  My original intent was to visit just because of the name, but this town is, in my mind, all about the blues and how I imagined it.

Sumoflam in Alligator, MS
Sumoflam in Alligator, MS
Welcome to Alligator, MS
Welcome to Alligator, MS

I didn’t see any real alligators in Alligator, but I did see lots of history.  The town is home to the “Alligator Blues,” as the Blue Highway Marker below indicates.  Alligator has a blues history that rivals that of many a larger town. Once a bustling business center, Alligator has had entertainment spots in town in addition to outlying country juke joints, plantation house parties and storefronts where musicians played as they traversed the surrounding communities.  Robert Johnson apparently lived in the area in 1930.

Alligator Blues Marker in Alligator, MS
Alligator Blues Marker in Alligator, MS

Alligator also had some wonderful wall murals including the one at the top of this post and the one below.

Alligator Wall Mural, Alligator, MS
Alligator Wall Mural, Alligator, MS
Wall Mural at Blues Tourist in Alligator, MS
Wall Mural at Blues Tourist in Alligator, MS

A few more scenes from Alligator, Mississippi

Alligator, MS Town Hall
Alligator, MS Town Hall
Alligator Water Tower, Alligator, MS
Alligator Water Tower, Alligator, MS
Keep Alligator Clean!
Keep Alligator Clean!

Solidly entrenched in the heart of Delta Blues country, I continue my journey, next to Shelby, MS. This town of about 2000 is home to a couple of Juke Joints including the Do Drop Inn (not to be confused with the famed Dew Drop Inn of New Orleans).

Welcome to Shelby, MS
Welcome to Shelby, MS
Colorful buildings of Shelby, MS
Colorful buildings of Shelby, MS
Colorful yellow abandoned building in Shelby, MS
Colorful yellow, seemingly abandoned building in Shelby, MS

Juke joint is a term used by locals for the informal establishments that featured music, dancing, gambling, and drinking.  These were mainly operated by African American people in the southeastern United States. The term “juke” is believed to derive from the Gullah word joog, meaning rowdy or disorderly.  A juke joint may also be called a “barrelhouse”. Juke Joints catered to the rural work force that began to emerge after the emancipation. Primarily African-American establishments, juke joints were opened in the southeastern United States during the era of the Jim Crow Laws. Since black sharecroppers and plantation workers were barred from white establishments, juke joints provided a space for these people to kick back after a long week of work.  Places like the Do Drop Inn are slowly disappearing as a result of large casinos in many of the areas along the Mississippi.

Famed Do Drop Inn Juke joint in Shelby, MS
Famed Do Drop Inn Juke Joint in Shelby, MS
Wall mural depicting a river baptism in Shelby, MS. Its not all about the blues
Wall mural depicting a river baptism in Shelby, MS. Its not all about the blues
Daniel's Snack Shack, Shelby, MS
Daniel’s Snack Shack, Shelby, MS

Next stop on US 61 was Mound Bayou.  This town was an all black town in the Yazoo Delta in Northwest Mississippi. It was founded during the spring of 1887 by twelve former slaves led by Isaiah Montgomery.  This fledgling black colony continued to remain predominantly African America, and, by percentage, its 98.6 percent African-American majority population is one of the largest of any community in the United States.

Welcome to Mound Bayou, MS
Welcome to Mound Bayou, MS
Much of US 61 in the Delta is falling to ruins, such as this place. Sad....
Much of US 61 in the Delta is falling to ruins, such as this place. Sad….
US 61 north of Cleveland, MS
US 61 north of Cleveland, MS

Cleveland, MS is one of 11 towns named Cleveland in the United States. I was born in Cleveland, OH so visiting any Cleveland has meaning.  (I have also been to Cleveland, TN and Cleveland, IN).

Cleveland, MS
Cleveland, MS

Cleveland is one of the great places to experience the heritage and culture that is the blues, Just outside of town is Dockery Plantation . Often called the “Birthplace of the Blues.”  This was home to Delta blues musician, Charley Patton, and was recently honored with a marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail. He is considered by many to be the “Father of the Delta Blues”, and is credited with creating an enduring body of American music and personally inspiring just about every Delta blues man.  Indeed, it is said that Patton inspired Blues greats John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf and even Robert Johnson at Dockery Farms.

Dockery Farms Plantation near Cleveland, MS
Dockery Farms Plantation near Cleveland, MS – considered by many to be birthplace of the Delta Blues

Cleveland is also noted as the place where W.C. Handy was inspired after hearing a blues band in 1905.

Historical marker about W.C. Handy being inspired in Cleveland, MS
Historical marker about W.C. Handy being inspired in Cleveland, MS

Downtown Cleveland has a beautiful tree-lined walkway in downtown, near the old railroad station.

Cleveland Railroad Station
Cleveland Railroad Station
Tree-lined Walkway in Cleveland, MS
Tree-lined Walkway in Cleveland, MS

As evening closed in on me after the long drive from Lexington, KY, I scooted southward into Leland, MS.  I had hoped to see more of the historic town, but light was running out and I definitely wanted to get to Leland to see the “Birthplace of Kermit the Frog.” Though closed, there was enough light to get a couple of photos.

Sumoflam at the "Birthplace of Kermit the Frog" in Leland, MS
Sumoflam at the “Birthplace of Kermit the Frog” in Leland, MS

Famed puppeteer and mastermind of “The Muppets” Jim Henson grew up around Leland, MS, played along Deer Creek and became word famous.  This is where he got his start.

Birthplace of Kermit the Frog, Leland, MS
Birthplace of Kermit the Frog, Leland, MS
Oh Kermie...
Oh Kermie…
Walkway over Deer Creek in Leland, MS
Walkway over Deer Creek in Leland, MS
Frog Parking only in Leland, MS
Frog Parking only in Leland, MS

So, the day finally ended and darkened as I left Leland and headed for my overnight stay in Vicksburg. End of Day 1 on the Blues Highway – nearly 670 miles of driving from home to here. My next post will complete the trip from Vicksburg to Natchez and into Louisiana.

Sunset in the Delta of Mississippi
Sunset in the Delta of Mississippi

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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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