Corners of Montana and Idaho
27.08.2016 - 28.08.2016
I have visited my friends in Stevensville, Montana several times, but have never visited the local museums. I was too early for the county museum.
I was too early for St Mary's Mission also, but the current church was open and I could also tour the grounds.
The pioneer church served the parish until the 1950s when this new church was built. The stained glass windows on each side are of the history of the area.
The museum opened before I left, so I was able to get an interior tour of several buildings and watch a video. The history of this place where the settling of Montana began is very interesting.
The local Salish had heard of the special spiritual medicine of the Black Robes. They decided to ask some to come and settle on their land. For some years, there was a great deal of cooperation and mutual support between the priests, brothers, and Salish. Then, the black robes traveled to the plains for a buffalo hunt with the Salish. It was then they learned that the desire for Catholic worship was to give the Salish power over the warring Blackfeet. This caused a bit of a schism between the priests and the Salish. The church and priests remained, however.
The other buildings and land fell into disrepair after the new church was built. Eventually, concerned Stevensville residents realized the historical importance of this site and restored it to its current condition and importance. Although the cemetery is still the Catholic cemetery, I caught a hint of disdain in the docent's voice as she implied that their was little, if any, church or parishioner involvement in the restoration and maintenance.
I had managed to fritter away over half a day on these grounds. I needed to get on the road south.
The town of Darby, Montana did not seem to have anyplace I wanted to stop except I couldn't pass up getting on the internet in this oasis of a library that serves the 720 residents of the town and, I suppose, folks from the surrounding area.
After 50 more miles, I crossed into Idaho.
I felt more like reading and munching than driving, so I stopped at the last campground with a few spots. I chose the spot on the marina away from the folks with five barking rescue dogs.
In 2014 when I drove north on Route 93, I just drove through Arco intent to get to Stevensville.
Steve in Stevensville had told me that the 2017 eclipse will be 100% in Arco, Idaho. I thought I should stop for a visit this time.
Arco's claim to history is that it was the first place powered by nuclear energy. Did I read that it was only powered for one hour? Guess I had better look back over my links.
Additionally, they have placed the sail from the nuclear-powered USS Hawkbill here on the desert.
With lava fields, nuclear submarine memorabilia, decades of class numbers on the mountainside, nuclear energy "museum" ,and grain elevators, all in all, Arco is a rather unusual place out here in the middle of nowhere.
I did not take the side trip to Atomic City, but the nuclear energy research still continues and is evident along the route.
It was surprising to travel such empty roads and then to see Mormon churches with packed parking lots fill the landscape.
When I drove through Idaho Falls, I saw the Salt Lake City Express bus company! In Denver and throughout my travels in the SW and other agricultural areas, I have often seen express systems to Mexico, but the need for ths express caught me by surprise.
East of Idaho Falls, the land becomes more agricultural. There were huge rolling fields of golden grain. I couldn't imagine what it was. There were also vast fields of potatoes and seed potatoes.
Just before I started the climb up the mountain to the Wyoming state line the land turned to mostly cattle grazing, I saw some ranchers working on their property and I stopped to ask them what I had been seeing. I told them I recognized the Mormons and the potatoes, but was stymied by the golden grain. I learned it was barley; 90% had recently been harvested.
They told me to be sure and write that "this is how rednecks get the work done!"
Soon, I turned off 26 and took routes 31 and 33 to cross into Wyoming.