Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls was first discovered by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Rainbow Falls and downstream Crooked Falls are the only two waterfalls on the Missouri-Mississippi river system to remain in an almost-natural condition. Black Eagle Falls and Great Falls are half- occupied by their dams’ powerhouses, and Colter Falls is submerged. The waterfall received its name from the frequent presence of rainbows in its spray before the dams were built.

Meriwether Lewis was known to comment on the falls:

. . . hearing a tremendious roaring above me I continued. . . a few hundred yards further and was again presented by one of the most bea[utiful]objects in nature, a cascade of about fifty feet perpendicular stre[t]ching at [right angles] across the river from side to side to the distance of at least a quarter of a mile. here the river pitches over a shelving rock, with an edge as regular and streight as if formed by art, without a nich[e] or br[eak] in it; the water descends in one even and uninterrupted sheet . . .

The waterfall was named “Beautiful Cascade” and later “Handsom[e] Falls” by Lewis, but was given its present name by Thomas B. Roberts, a railroad engineer, in 1872. — From Wikipedia

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Helena Fire Tower

Fire plagued Helena in the early days. Wooden buildings huddled together and a lack of abundant water made stopping fires once they got started very difficult. Several huge fires in the 1870s were particularly horrific, wiping out much of the central business district and many homes. It should be remembered that, during those pre-railroad days, nearly all supplies had to be freighted overland into Helena from either the head of navigation on the Missouri River at Fort Benton, 130 miles to the north, or along the Montana Trail from Corinne, Utah, some 400 miles to the south. It could take months to replace needed materials after a fire, and at no small expense.

A watchtower overlooking Last Chance Gulch was first built on the west side of “Catholic Hill” in the early 1870s. The one pictured above, which was taller and included a shelter on top, was built in 1874. An 1864 Gould Manufacturing Co. bell salvaged from the Missouri River sidewheeler “Tacony” was hung in the new tower (that bell is pictured above), replacing a large iron triangle which had been used to sound the alarm. — Helenahistory.org

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Helena Women’s Mural

Painted on the side of the Livestock Building, the mural commemorates groups and individual women who contributed to the greater community. Suffragists, painted ladies, schoolteachers, and pioneers, as well as rodeo star Fanny Sperry Steele and guitarist M. J. Williams, represent Helena‚Äôs diverse women. Women planned, designed, and painted the mural. Intended to last no more than a dozen years, it has become a permanent landmark. — helenamt.com

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