A Few Days in Shelby, Montana and surrounding area

Shelby, Montana Shelby, Montana[/caption] 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. Thanks to our new best trailer tires we were able to go on rough roads quite smoothly, and I have to say till date they have been my best investment on the RV. 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. [caption id="attachment_2756" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Shelby, Montana -- a train town Shelby, Montana — a railroad town[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2739" align="aligncenter" width="199"]Old Motel Sign in Shelby, Montana Old Motel Sign in Shelby, Montana[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2743" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Vista Motel - Shelby, Montana Vista Motel – Shelby, Montana[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2740" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Sherlock Motel - Shelby, Montana Sherlock Motel – Shelby, Montana[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2737" align="aligncenter" width="199"]Big Motel sign in downtown Shelby Big Motel sign in downtown Shelby[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2742" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Old Motel Sign - Shelby, Montana Old Motel Sign – Shelby, Montana[/caption] There are lots of bars and restaurants as well… [caption id="attachment_2758" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Oasis Bar - Shelby, Montana. Love the old Dancing neon sign Oasis Bar – Shelby, Montana. Love the old Dancing neon sign[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2745" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Sports Club - Excellent Food - Shelby, Montana Sports Club – Excellent Food – Shelby, Montana[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2746" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Mint Club - Shelby, Montana The Mint Club – Shelby, Montana[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2749" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Montana Grill and Roxy Theater in Shelby, Montana Montana Grill and Roxy Theater in Shelby, Montana[/caption] 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… [caption id="attachment_2747" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Wall Art in downtown Shelby Wall Art in downtown Shelby[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2741" align="aligncenter" width="300"]H-O Motor Supply - old advertising H-O Motor Supply – old advertising[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2760" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Bowling anyone? - this is the only place to bowl in Shelby. Bowling anyone? – this is the only place to bowl in Shelby.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2878" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Unusual sign seen in a shop in Shelby Unusual sign seen in a shop in Shelby[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2845" align="aligncenter" width="225"]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[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2761" align="aligncenter" width="199"]Found this old truck driving through a neighborhood in Shelby Found this old truck driving through a neighborhood in Shelby[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2750" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Long train running in Shelby, Montana Long train running in Shelby, Montana[/caption] 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? [caption id="attachment_2754" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Train Graffiti Train Graffiti[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2753" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Train Graffiti Train Graffiti[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2752" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Train graffiti Train graffiti[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2751" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Train graffiti Train graffiti[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2755" align="aligncenter" width="640"]The Oily Boid gets the Woim - a unique historical marker The Oily Boid gets the Woim – a unique historical marker[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2850" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Frontier Restaurant near Shelby, Montana Frontier Restaurant near Shelby, Montana[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2762" align="aligncenter" width="199"]Mailbox outside of Frontier Bar and Grill Mailbox outside of Frontier Bar and Grill[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2849" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Hanging with the Frontier Guy Hanging with the Frontier Guy[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2763" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Frontier Bar in Dunkirk, east of Shelby Frontier Bar in Dunkirk, east of Shelby[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2848" align="aligncenter" width="300"]I guarantee that this place is no bull!! I guarantee that this place is no bull!![/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2765" align="aligncenter" width="640"]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[/caption] After a nice dinner, we walked out of the restaurant and OH WHAT A VIEW!! [caption id="attachment_2764" align="aligncenter" width="448"]Mountains to the north of Shelby, with an awesome sunset. Mountains to the north of Shelby, with an awesome sunset[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2502" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Close up of Gold Butte - mountains on fire Close up of Gold Butte – mountains on fire[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2768" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Sunrise in Northern Montana Sunrise in Northern Montana near Babb, Montana[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2769" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Snow covered prairies north of Browning, Montana Snow covered prairies north of Browning, Montana[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2770" align="aligncenter" width="300"]First sunrise on the mountains of Glacier National Park near Babbs, Montana First sunrise on the mountains of Glacier National Park near Babb, Montana[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2773" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Sunrise a little later in Glacier Sunrise a little later in Glacier – Chief Mountain on Right, Sherburne Peak and Yellow Mountain on the left[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2777" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Chief Mountain at sunrise Chief Mountain at sunrise[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2775" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Heading to the mountains on Montana Hwy 464 near Duck Lake Heading to the mountains on Montana Hwy 464 near Duck Lake[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2785" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Clouds in the Mountains near Babb, MT Clouds in the Mountains near Babb, MT[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2783" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Old truck - Babb, Montana Old truck – Babb, Montana
[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2781" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Babb Bar and Supper Club Babb Bar and Supper Club[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2790" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Leaning Tree Cafe, Babb, Montana Leaning Tree Cafe, Babb, Montana[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2859" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Leaning Tree Menu - lots of good breakfast Leaning Tree Menu – lots of good breakfast[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2857" align="aligncenter" width="300"]The kids were excited to eat at a place like this The kids were excited to eat at a place like this[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2853" align="aligncenter" width="225"]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[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2858" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Mary runs the Leaning Tree Cafe. She makes a great breakfast Mary runs the Leaning Tree Cafe. She makes a great breakfast[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2860" align="aligncenter" width="300"]My breakfast at leaning tree - eggs, sausage, hash, potatoes and toast - YUM My breakfast at leaning tree – eggs, sausage, hash, potatoes and toast – YUM[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2854" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Happy after my breakfast Happy after my breakfast[/caption] 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 [caption id="attachment_2795" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Bison on Hwy 464 Bison on Hwy 464[/caption] 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) [caption id="attachment_2802" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Browning, Montana - notice all of the garbage Browning, Montana – notice all of the garbage along the fence[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2797" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Don't Drink and Drive sign - makes for empty lodges Don’t Drink and Drive sign – makes for empty lodges[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2796" align="aligncenter" width="199"]Big Lodge Espresso - the Espresso Tipi in Browning Big Lodge Espresso – the Espresso Tipi in Browning[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2798" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Cowboy Museum in a Native American town Cowboy Museum in a Native American town[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2799" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Murals on the side of a shop in Browning Mural on the side of a shop in Browning[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2801" align="aligncenter" width="199"]Metal Teepees in front of a shop in Browning Metal Teepees in front of a shop in Browning[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2800" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Another nice mural in Browning, Montana Another nice mural in Browning, Montana[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2861" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Camp Disappointment Historical Sign Camp Disappointment Historical Sign[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2803" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Camp Disappointment Monument west of Cut Bank, Montana Camp Disappointment Monument west of Cut Bank, Montana[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2804" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Close up of text on the monument Close up of text on the monument[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2867" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Another shot of Camp Disappointment Monument Another shot of Camp Disappointment Monument
[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2862" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Blackfeet Warriors by Jay Polite Laber, in East Glacier, Montana Blackfeet Warriors by Jay Polite Laber, in Cut Bank, Montana[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2863" align="aligncenter" width="448"]Warrior 1 Warrior 1 – by Jay Polite Laber, near Cut Bank, Montana[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2864" align="aligncenter" width="448"]Warrior 2 Warrior 2 – by Jay Polite Laber, near Cut Bank, Montana[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2809" align="aligncenter" width="300"]The Warriors, by Jay Polite The Warriors, by Jay Polite[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2806" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Closeup of horse Closeup of horse[/caption] From the warriors we went through town and made the requisite stop at the world’s largest penguin! [caption id="attachment_2870" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Cut Bank Penguin Cut Bank Penguin[/caption] Being another train town, there is a large Train Bridge in Cutbank [caption id="attachment_2810" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Cut Bank Creek Trestle, built in 1900 Cut Bank Creek Trestle, built in 1900[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2813" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Striped fields in Northern Montana Striped fields in Northern Montana[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2856" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Blue roofed church in Sweetgrass, Montana Blue roofed church in Sweetgrass, Montana[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2814" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Another view of the Blue Roofed Church Another view of the Blue Roofed Church[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2816" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Jerusalem Rocks near Sweetgrass Jerusalem Rocks near Sweetgrass[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2815" align="aligncenter" width="300"]On the road to the Hillside Colony On the road to the Hillside Colony[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2821" align="aligncenter" width="300"]The Hillside Community The Hillside Community[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2819" align="aligncenter" width="300"]The belongings in the kitchen The belongings in the kitchen[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2820" align="aligncenter" width="199"]Home made chairs Home made chairs[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2818" align="aligncenter" width="300"]The hat rack - the men wear hats in the public The hat rack – the men wear hats in the public[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2824" align="aligncenter" width="199"]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[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2822" align="aligncenter" width="199"]Communal Dining Room Communal Dining Room[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2823" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Hat hanger in the Dining Room Hat hanger in the Dining Room[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2877" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Hutterite Food Storage Hutterite Food Storage[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2826" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Cousin Thomas Cousin Thomas[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2834" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Harry J. Benjamin Harry J. Benjamin[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_2831" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Harry driving his smaller train Harry driving his smaller train[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2829" align="aligncenter" width="199"]Smokin... Smokin…[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2835" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Benjamin's creations - a couple of tractors Benjamin’s creations – a couple of tractors[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2879" align="aligncenter" width="199"]De-Railed De-Railed[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2880" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Toy Tractor Toy Tractor[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2832" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Grandkids Enjoy the Ride Grandkids Enjoy the Ride[/caption] Here’s a video of one of his creations: But, I must admit, the BEST part of the entire visit to Shelby was this…. [caption id="attachment_2852" align="aligncenter" width="225"]....Reading to the Grandkids ….reading to the Grandkids[/caption] Next stop…heading home via US 2.  Watch soon for the next great adventures on Less Beaten Paths.]]>

0 thoughts on “A Few Days in Shelby, Montana and surrounding area

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  3. Sandie

    Just found your blog and love it. Born and raised in Sidney, MT but never took the time to explore these small towns like you have. We will be leaving Billings in September and heading north to Highway 2 over to Kalispell so I’ve made lots of notes for things to look for. Thanks.

    1. Sumoflam Post author

      I sure hope that it helps. It is quite a fascinating drive with lots of old history, old buildings, dinosaur fossils and more. I have actually driven from the North Dakota border all the way to Glacier NP on US Highway 2 three different times. Love it

  4. Deb Webb

    In 1994 my family went through Shelby on the way to a rodeo. We stopped at the steak place, might have been that then, not sure. Tied the horses to the trailer for air while we ate.
    During our meal a kind lady asks if the horses are ours. We thought she just wanted to chat about the horses but nope.
    She let us know that one of them was in the garbage!! He didn’t want to get away, he just wanted to check out the dumpster!!
    So cool that we have shared some less beaten paths. 🙂

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