Tuesday, July 11, 2017

(47) Homeward!

July 10, 2017
Mobridge, South Dakota to Billings, Montana

Railroad Bridge crossing the Missouri

Earlier  Bridge at the time of the Yellowstone Trail
This morning we crossed the Missouri River at Mobridge, South Dakota. It was a bright clear morning and I took a picture of both the automobile bridge that we were crossing as well as the old railroad bridge. After crossing the Missouri we found ourselves once again in the arid West. We spent the remainder of the day traversing South Dakota, North Dakota and much of Montana.

Automobile Bridge over the Missouri

Missouri Bridges

North Dakota

In North Dakota, we found miles and miles of miles and miles. Our last stop in North Dakota was Marmarth.

The unusual name comes from the fact that the railroad engineer was naming it after his daughter, Margaret Martha. Apparently Margaret Martha would not work as a name of the town so it was shortened to Marmarth. Marmarth has the oldest motion picture theater in all of North Dakota. I believe it is still operating, although much of the rest of the town is not.

Mystic Theatre in Marmarth, North Dakota

At the western edge of the town of Marmarth is the Van Horn automobile Museum. Jim Van Horn has assembled quite a collection of beautifully restored vehicles. In addition to automobiles, Jim collects whatever suits his fancy. At the end of the tour we were treated to an ice cream. It was delicious.
Ford GP prepared for review by Army


Jim Van Horn and part of his collection


We then proceeded into Montana. At the western edge of North Dakota and the eastern edge of Montana we found ourselves in the Badlands. The scenery was not quite as spectacular as that in Badlands national Park, but we appreciated it nonetheless, I'm glad that we don't live there.

Montana Badlands

Montana Bar, Miles City, Montana
Main Street, Miles City Montana

We stopped in Miles City Montana to have lunch at the Montana Bar. My last visit to the Montana Bar was in May, 1974. I went to Miles city with two friends from college who told me that if I wanted to experience Montana culture at its finest I needed to attend The Bucking Horse Sale which is held in May of each year in Miles City.

Bucking Horse Sale, May, 1974
My friends told me that we would probably end up drinking too much and might find ourselves in a couple of fights. To a 19-year-old college freshman this sounded like something I needed to experience. I did end up drinking a bit too much, but managed to avoid the fights.

Bar in the Montana Club
One of the bars I visited in May, 1974 was the Montana Bar. I well remember going to the Bucking Horse Sale. The Bucking Horse Sale is where all the saddle broncs come from for the rodeo circuit. It is basically a big rodeo with horse buyers then bidding on the broncs.

I have fond memories of the Bucking Horse Sale. I remember that Saturday night in May, 1974 that the Montana Bar was very crowded and very noisy. It was difficult to get from one end of the barroom to the other. It was a bit quieter today and today there were actually barstools in front of the bar. No trip to Miles City is complete without a visit to the Montana Bar.

I had a steak sandwich and I felt like they were staring at me.
The walls are decorated with mounts representing the cream of the cattle drives. There is also a bullet hole in a beveled glass window as you walk in the bar. How that window survived, I don't know. The bullet hole was the result of an accidental discharge that occurred when a patron was checking his gun. But it all makes for great fun and a colorful afternoon or evening.

Bullet hole in glass panel
While we were at the Montana Club, I struck up a conversation with Charlie who had spent most of his professional life as a cattle broker. Charlie told me that the Montana Club was a good place to do business. The booths had high walls and it was like being in a soundproof room.

Charlie, a Cattle broker from Miles City
Forsyth Montana to Billings

Thankfully, the road was better than this.

Split Rock, near Big Horn Montana
On the Yellowstone Trail

After Miles city we traveled to Forsyth, Montana and then on to Pompey's Pillar.

Pompey's Pillar along the Yellowstone River
Pompey is the nickname that William Clark gave to the son of Sacagawea. His full name is Jean Baptist Charbonneau. He was born in 1805 and died in 1861. Little Pompey was the youngest member of the Corps of Discovery. He had a front row seat to the making of history through much of the nineteenth century. William Clark saw to it that he got a good education. He died in the second half of the nineteenth century near Jordan Valley, Oregon. Earlier this year, I visited his grave and I'm happy to report that many people visit the grave and leave tributes to little Pompey.

Pompey's Grave near Jordan Valley, Oregon

After Pompey's Pillar we traveled west to Billings. We will spend the night in Billings before moving on to Livingston and Yellowstone National Park. We have debated on where to end this trip. At one time we had planned to go all the way to Puget Sound. However, the need to retrieve our car in California has made that original goal impractical. We decided to end the trip where the Yellowstone Trail originally ended. That is, Yellowstone National Park.

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