Dothan, AL – The End

Well we managed to avoid any more major distractions as we traveled back to Houston to further aggravate the in-laws. We then eased over to Alexandria, La, to visit Linda’s cousins which she hadn’t seen in over 10 years. Of course we had to stop in Pensacola, Fl, to see the grand kids.

We finally made it back to Dothan to enjoy some of the summer heat and of course mowing the grass.

So ends our western wanderings. For now.

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Distraction – Steamboat Display

While traveling south on I-29, along the Iowa and Nebraska border, as we crossed US-30 we noticed a sign that simply stated “Steamboat Exhibit”. Well, we were distracted again. I thought that we would get to walk out on an old steamboat but instead we ended up on the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge.

“The Steamboat Bertrand sank April 1, 1865 loaded with cargo headed for the goldfields of Montana. The steamboat hit a snag and struggled to make it to shallow waters where it sank north of Omaha, Nebraska. Although it sank on the Nebraska side of the Missouri River, the river subsequently meandered and was rechanneled, leaving the wreck deeply buried in silt well east of the Missouri. It was excavated in 1968, funded largely by a private partnership attempting to recover large amounts of mercury that were believed to be on board; however only small amounts of mercury were recovered, and the remainder of the cargo became the property of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Its cargo is now on display at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa, and contains the largest intact collection of Civil War-era artifacts in the United States, including mining equipment, clothing, Indian trade items, military ammunition, plows, and tens of thousands of household goods, including candles, canned goods and preserves, dishes, knives, other housewares, matches, pipes, and liquor. This collection provides an unrivaled glimpse into daily frontier life in the 1860s. Canned foods from the Bertrand were analyzed and found to still be nutritious in 1982.”

We didn’t get to see a steamboat but the collection of goods recovered from this vessel was amazing.

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Distraction – Enchanted Highway

Deer Crossing

Grasshoppers Delight

Fisherman's Dream

Well, we decided that it’s about time to head for home. We started working our way east and south with plans to stop at Houston again and aggravate the relatives. So we got up earlier than usual with great expectations of having a long day on the road and covering as many miles as possible.

Unfortunately we got distracted. We had only been on the interstate for about 30 minutes when we discovered the Enchanted Highway and we just had to check it out.

The Enchanted Highway, off Interstate 94 (Exit 72) approximately 20 miles east of Dickinson, North Dakota, is a collection of the world’s largest metal sculptures constructed at intervals along a 32 mile stretch of highway which extends south to the town of Regent. Artist Gary Greff conceived of, built it beginning in 1989, plans more sculptures, and maintains the project.

Pheasants on the Prairie

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Fort Union Trading Post

We left Kremlin, MT, heading east on the Hi-Line (US 2). We wanted to visit Fort Union Trading Post Historical Site on the Missouri river at the Montana/North Dakota border. We had visited the site back in 1988 and found that the restoration of the main building had been completed and some university archaeology teams had located the foundation for the original walls. The lumber to rebuild the walls was on site and they were waiting for the archaeologists to complete their activities before starting work. We thought it would be interesting to stop and see the completed project.

“Fort Union Trading post National Historic Site is the site of a partially reconstructed trading post on the Missouri River and the North Dakota/Montana border twenty-five miles from Williston, North Dakota. Fort Union Trading Post was established in 1828 by the American Fur Company. It was not a government or military post, but a business, established for the specific purpose of doing business with the northern plains tribes. This trade business continued until 1867 making it the longest lasting American fur trading post. Fort Union Trading Post was the most important fur trading post on the upper Missouri until 1867. At this post, the Assiniboine, Crow, Cree, Ojibway, Blackfeet, Hidatsa, and other tribes traded buffalo robes and furs for trade goods including items such as beads, clay pipes, guns, blankets, knives, cookware and cloth. Today, the reconstructed Fort Union memorializes a brief period in American history when two cultures found common ground and mutual benefit through commercial exchange and cultural acceptance.”

Trading Building

We were delighted to see what a wonderful job had been done on the reconstruction. The completed trade building had many of the trade goods from its trading days on display with a ranger dressed in the trader costume of the day. They were even selling the trade goods in the trade building. They weren’t taking furs in trade only US currency. Oh well, I guess authenticity just goes so far.

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Rudyard, MT

Rudyard Museum

Rudyard, Montana, is located west of Kremlin and has a very interesting museum. Montana is known for it’s dinosaur remains and this museum has a separate building dedicated to several dinosaur skeletons which were found nearby.

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Gildford, MT

Ed and Judy Fallo

Gildford, Montana, is 10 miles west of Kremlin on the Hi-Line. All of the towns around here are real easy to get to as all you have to know is if they are east or west of your current location.

Ed pastors the Baptist church in Gildford and has for some 20 odd years.

If you are ever in Gildford around lunch time make sure that you stop by the Gildford Merc as they have an absolutely fantastic sandwich bar. Give a try to the meat lovers special. The Merc is not hard to find as the population of the town is 185.

Gildford Baptist Church

Gildford Merc

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Havre, MT

Havre is a town of 10,000 located 20 miles east of Kremlin. It is the largest city on the Hi-Line and the eighth largest city in Montana. It even has a Wal-Mart.

Havre Underground Sky-Light

Havre Underground Sky-Light

“Small grids of purple colored squares can be seen in some of the sidewalks in the downtown area (on the north side of the city). These are skylights for a sort of underground “mall” built in the city at least a hundred years ago. Throughout its history, this underground area has been host to a brothel, a Chinese laundromat, a saloon, a drugstore, at least three opium dens, and rooms used for smuggling alcohol during Prohibition. When fire destroyed Havre’s business district in 1904, “legitimate” above-ground businesses joined the illicit businesses operating in the underground while the new brick buildings were built in the streets above. The underground area, now designated “Havre Beneath the Streets”, currently operates as a small tourist attraction.”

Located in north central Montana, Havre was incorporated in 1893. It was founded primarily to serve as a major railroad service center and it continues to serve in this capacity today with its location midway between Seattle and Minneapolis-St. Paul. They have on display the largest steam locomotive that I have ever seen.

Soda Fountain

Bar Room

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