Shelby, Montana

Day 670

     Shelby was named for Peter O. Shelby, General Manager of the Montana Central Railway, which operated from January 25, 1886 to 1907. In 1907, the Montana Central ceased to exist after it was made part of the Great Northern.

     We stopped here because it is the closest town to the Canadian Border, which we want to reach in the morning. 

     We have met up with the other RV’ers whom we will be spending the next 3 months with on our trip to Alaska and back. Our new adventure starts tomorrow

     Barbara and I have updated our phone plans so they work in Canada. If there are no more blogs, you know that didn’t work. 

Technical Stuff:

Great Falls, Montana to Shelby, Montana: 85.5 miles

1 hour 53 minutes

9.0 MPG

Diesel: $2.99

Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana

Day 669

     Master Sergeant Rob Turnbow explained to us the current workings of Malmstrom Air Force Base, just outside the city of Great Falls, Montana.  We learned that Malmstrom AFB is one of three US Air Force Bases that maintains and operates the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile.      Airfield operations began on  November 30, 1942 when the first B-17 Flying Fortress landed at the newly constructed base. Originally named Great Falls Army Air Base, later Great Falls Air Force Base, the facility was renamed Malmstrom Air Force Base on October 1, 1955 in honor of Colonel Einar Axel Malmstrom.

     Colonel Einar Axel Malmstrom was born July 14, 1907 in Chicago, Illinois. (Who names their son Einar? No wonder he spent his life in the Armed Forces.) He enlisted in the Washington State National Guard on May 12, 1929 as a Private and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on May 25, 1931. He served a distinguishing carrier as a fighter pilot, including vice wing commander of this base, attaining the rank of Colonel. He died while flying a jet airplane that crash on August 24, 1954.

     Ok, who knows what this is:

     The missileer went to the bathroom, and I took this photograph. Don’t tell anyone, it’s top secret. 

     How, you may ask, do they get the minuteman missile into the silo? They use a Transporter/Erector.      The missile is loaded into the Transporter, like a torpedo, it then positions itself over the silo and erects upright. The missile is lowered by a waiting elevator. Today, a state of the art diesel powered unit is used. 

Buffalo Jump, Montana

Day 667

     The Spanish first brought horses to the North America Continent in the 1500’s. How then did Indians here kill the buffalo for food and clothing? Here in the Northern Plains of what is now Montana, they came up with an ingenious method, which they had used for 1200 years before the Spanish arrival. 

     They found a cliff and stampeded the buffalo over the cliff. Once the animals were driven over the cliff and incapacitated, they would be slaughtered and their meat, hides, and bones used by the hunters to feed and clothe their families and to make various tools and weapons, and of course, gulf clubs:

     We walked across the Plains to the cliff. 

     Then hiked the mountain to the top of the cliff

     From there you can see the prairie leading to the cliff from which the buffalo were stampeded. 

     Is that blood from 5,000 years ago?

     At the beginning of our hike, just over 3 miles round trip, we got the usual warning of rattlesnakes. Barbara heard a rattlesnake as we crossed over a ravine, and we saw this bullhead snake toward the top of the cliff:

Portage – Great Falls, Montana

Day 666

     Lewis and Clark, and their party of merry men, were happily going up the Missouri River looking for the Northwest Passage and exploring the newly acquired Louisiana Territory for President Thomas Jefferson, until they arrive where we are now, Great Falls, Montana. Here they ran into their first major obstacle, water falls. The only way to surmount the falls was portage. What is “portage” you ask? Good question. Portage means “to carry”. They had to build a devise on which to carry their boats out of the water, up the mountainside, pull them on land around the falls, back down the mountainside and back into the water. 

     As it turned out, to their great dismay, there was not just one waterfalls, but five, and they had to lug everything 18 miles overland, on top of the mountain that the Missouri River carved, to surpass the falls. We went to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive center to learn all this.

     They had this diorama to give us a visual interpretation. 

     We met with the descendants of the Chippewa tribe they encountered.     Today was the 20th anniversary the opening of this center, and there were all kinds of activities and demonstrations about the expedition. Here Barbara partakes in an Indian ceremonial dance.      They also demonstrated the firing of the “swivel gun” Lewis and Clark had with them     A raptor demonstration, here the dissucision is about Vultures:      This is the “portage devise” built and used to pull those boats up the mountain:     And they reminded us, only YOU can prevent forest fires.

Great Falls, Montana

Day 663

     Great Falls, Montana, takes its name from the five waterfalls along the upper Missouri River.

     Meriwether Lewis was the first white person to visit the area, which he did on June 13, 1805, as part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

     Following the return passage of Lewis and Clark in 1806, the next white person to come here was explorer and trapper Jim Bridger in 1822. Bridger led a fur-trading expedition to the future city location in April 1823 (and was attacked by Blackfeet Indians while camping at the site).

     The City of Great Falls was founded in 1883 by Businessman Paris Gibson, born July 1, 1830.

     We are here for a week to have maintenance done on the Truck and Sphinx. We will be meeting here with the other RV’ers to begin our trek to Alaska. Going through Canada and up to the Arctic Circle in Alaska and back is a 7,000 mile journey and will take us just under 3 months. We will probably be stopping at the North Pole to say hi to Santa. 

Technical Stuff:

Dillon, Montana to Great Falls, Montana: 222.7 miles

4 hours 28 minutes

10.0 MPG

Diesel: $3.15

Dillon, Montana

Day 659

     Dillon was founded in 1880 as a railroad town by Union Pacific Railroad President Sidney Dillon, for whom it is named. The town’s location was selected because of its proximity to gold mines in the area. We chose this location because it is halfway between Rexburg, Idaho and Great Falls, Montana where we are meeting up with other RV’ers to begin our Alaska adventure. 

     One of the interesting things in going to these small towns are the unusual finds, like this sewing rocker chair:

     Imagine how proud the original owner was of this vehicle the first time he got in it when it was brand spanking new:

     In the old one room school house, they had on the chalkboard how to remember to spell “geography”:

Technical Stuff:

Rexburg, Idaho to Dillon, Montana 135.1 miles

2 hours 48 minutes

9.9 MPG

Diesel: $3.15