After traversing through the desolate lava fields of Washington State, we continued past the great silver mines of the Coeur d’Alene district of Idaho to Helena, Montana. The Coeur d-Alene valley cut through steep, mountainous ridges, a challenge for the strongest elk hunter.
Street signs in Helena announced that the main street was ‘Last Chance Gulch.’ The street name had been changed to add western atmosphere for the tourist trade.
Locals continued to call the street ‘Main Street.’
After a night in Helena we traversed to the mountain the geologists call the Boulder Batholith, south toward the Butte mining district.
As we traversed up a small, rocky trail into the batholith, we came upon a huge, three-story gold mining dredge that had dug its way up the river gravels until it could go no farther. Then it was abandoned in a small pond.
While traversing the batholith we spent several nights in Three Forks, Montana, at the headwaters of the great Missouri river. Three rivers come together there, to form the Missouri: the Madison, the Gallatin, and the Jefferson.
The restaurant had a ‘plain steak dinner’ for one dollar, that served one massive hunk of beef with a huge baked potato and vegetable.
Days were hot. Nights were chilly. The old hotel where we stayed was always cool inside, even on the hottest days, without air conditioning. At night they opened the windows, capturing the cold night air, which kept the hotel cool all day.
Sunsets were brilliant, bright golden and brassy, against a dark blue dust-free sky.