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Driving through Montana’s Big Sky Country

01 Big Sky Country, Montana

If you’ve never taken a drive through Montana, I’d highly recommend it. Eastern Montana is part of the great central plains, with wide-open scenery and endless views of “Big Sky Country.” The western part of the state is filled with the amazing Rocky Mountains.
During our last drive through Montana I snapped some photos of the scenery through the windshield and windows. Here’s some of them:
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)


 

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A Visit to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

01 Little Bighorn Battlefield

My most recent visit was my third to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, which preserves the site of “Custer’s Last Stand” — the Battle of the Little Bighorn (June 25 and 26, 1876). The National Monument has a small museum but the highlight of your visit will be to drive through or walk across part of the battlefield.  There are grave markers where soldiers fell during the battle, the largest cluster on the hill where General Custer died, as well as a few more recent markers for some of the Cheyenne warriors who were killed during the fighting.
You’ll enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Little Bighorn valley and “Big Sky” country of Montana.  Every time I’ve visited storm clouds …

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“Pic of the Week”, December 11, 2020: “Big Mike,” Bozeman, MT

Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman (7) – Copy

Meet “Big Mike”.  He’s a life-size bronze of a Tyrannosaurus Rex located outside of the incredible Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.
Big Mike’s skeleton was discovered in 1988 near Montana’s Fort Peck Reservoir, and is one of the most complete T Rex skeletons ever discovered. The skeleton was excavated by a team from the Museum of the Rockies.
Using a mold created directly from the bones, the skeleton was cast in bronze in 2001, becoming the first life-size bronze T. rex in the world.  The cast measures 38 feet in length, stands 15 feet tall, and weighs 10,000 pounds. It was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Michael P. Malone, former President of Montana State University, and was a gift …

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“Pic of the Week”, November 20, 2020: Bozeman’s Rusty

02 Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman (212)

 
Situated on the grounds of the Museum of the Rockies, part of Montana State University, you’ll find this rather striking statue of a draft horse.  It was created by artist Jim Dolan, a California native who moved to Montana, attended MSU, and is still a resident of the state.
Rusty is crafted of large iron chain links and is free for anyone to visit.  I rather liked this work of art, the size of a real-life horse.  True to his name, Rusty is indeed rusty.
(Click on thumbnail to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

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Bozeman’s amazing Museum of the Rockies

01 Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman (2)

Montana is a big and not very populous state, but it has a first-class museum in Bozeman that’s well worth seeing.  The Museum of the Rockies (MOR) was founded in 1957 and is affiliated with Montana State University and also the prestigious Smithsonian Institution.  The museum’s collections have grown to include 300,000 items of which only a minority can be displayed.

Tyrannosaurus Rex  Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman

Tyrannosaurus Rex. Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman


The focus of the museum is the rich dinosaur history of the region, and their collection is world-class.  MOR features the largest collection of dinosaur fossils in the United States, mostly housed in a wing known as the Siebel Dinosaur Complex. 
The pride of the collection are the ever-popular Tyrannosaurus Rex, of which the museum has 13 specimens.  The …

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Signs of Butte

21 Signs of Butte

Often in my travels I wish I could see a destination as it was years before I’ve gotten there — that I had access to H.G. Wells’ Time Machine so I could select exactly when to drop into a city or town.  In the case of Butte, Montana, I would set that Time Machine for circa 1900.  What a grand city I’d find when I arrived!  One of the largest, most developed new cities of the American West, with beautiful lavish hotels, elegant restaurants, theaters and other attractions, Butte was the place to be!  Funded by the wealth harvested from the mines of the “Richest Hill on Earth”, Butte was booming.

Jump forward a century and what you find is quite different.  Most …

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Great Cars along the Road…. Butte, Montana

02 Butte Montana a

Butte, Montana, is a colorful town.   It was in its heyday about a century ago, and I would have loved to have visited it during that time.  Butte (pronounced B-yut) was one of the largest and most advanced cities in the western United States.

 

1955 Chevy Bel-Air, Butte, Montana

1955 Chevy Bel-Air, Butte, Montana

As the mines around Butte have progressively (but not completely) played out and closed, the town has lost lots of its people and much of its luster.  Still, while somewhat worn, it has charm.  As we drove around the streets, I found this beautiful classic car parked in front of buildings that were old when it was new.  Believe it’s a 1955 Chevy Bel-Air.  Not in perfect condition but it seemed to be well cared for and …

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Butte, Montana’s Hole in the Ground: A visit to the Berkeley Pit

21 Berkeley Pit Butte Montana.  Courtesy NASA

When most people think of Montana, images of mountains or “Big Sky country” or wildlife spring to mind.  Usually you don’t think of a massive hole in the ground, but a destination of interest is the Berkeley Pit, a now closed open-pit copper mine in the historic town of Butte.

By the end of the 19th century, mines around Butte had yielded a lot of gold, silver and copper, earning the town the nickname, “richest hill on earth”.  As electricity demand across America increased and more wiring was needed, the growing demand for copper made Butte a boom-town in the early 20th century.  Copper mining in Butte historically had required a complex network of underground drains and pumps to lower the …

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