Missoula Airport

Looking towards the airport from the Blue Mountain Nature Trail.

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Black Eagle Falls

The last of the falls that Lewis and Clark had to get around on the Missouri river. This photo was taken from the side of the road that runs parallel to the Missouri in Great Falls.

A writer from the Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine toured the falls of the Missouri in the autumn of 1887 and reported: “The appearance of the Black Eagle Fall suggests its future use. Some day it will drive saws, spindles, and mill-stones.”4 Indeed, plans for harnessing the fall’s potential were already under way. The first dam, completed in 1891, provided both direct mechanical power and a limited amount of electricity for local use.

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Great Falls Storm

This is a photo of the storm on the walk back to the truck from Crooked Falls. I was luckily able to make it back before the storm passed through. Lewis and Clark faced similar storms during almost this exact time of year in their portage of the great Falls.

“Despite their splendor the Great Falls presented much danger and hardship for the explorers. In one afternoon Lewis’s path converged with a bear, a mountain cat or wolverine and three buffalo bulls; to Lewis it seemed that “all the beasts of the neighbourhood had made a league to distroy me, or that some fortune was disposed to amuse herself at my expence” (140). Many members of the expedition were ill, including Sacagawea who had been suffering for more than a week from an unknown sickness. Clark, Charbonneau, Sacagawea and her baby nearly drowned in a violent storm of torrential rain and huge hailstones. Grizzly bears, rattlesnakes and mosquitoes were a constant worry, even to the dog, Seaman, who Clark noted was “in a constant state of alarm with these bear and keeps barking all night” (151) –nps.gov

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Great Falls Storm

There were some ominous looking clouds to the south on the hike down to Crooked Falls. This would have been the area where Lewis and Clark made their portage around the falls.

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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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Montana

This photo was taken along Highway 287 just north of Three Forks, MT. The highway follows the Missouri. This scene is just to the west and would be what Lewis and Clark saw as they made their way to the three forks.

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