Western Montana; Lewis & Clark Trail

August 24-31, 2004

Our goals on this week-long trip were to revisit some of the more important Lewis & Clark points of interest, and also to experience a variety of places new to By-Ways by Bus riders. The itinerary printed in the June Bulletin was closely followed. Riders were: Ewart Baldwin, Don Baldwin, Patricia Bitner, Mary Lee Cheadle, John Cockrell, Mary Ann Cougill, Judy Dobell, Jim & Sharon Duncan, Margaret Fea, Rachele Fiszman, Bea Fontana, Jeannette Forsman, Dora Harris, Evelyn Hile, Kathy & Stewart Hoeg, Mary Ann Holser, Marjorie Jackson, Rosella Jones, Verna Kocken, Dot Leland, John McManigal, Rosemary Mason, Cleora Mersdorf, Maude Nilsen, Joyce Norman, Barbara & Don Payne, Liz Reanier, Dorothy Sistrom, Grace Swanson, Gene Thaxton, Vera Woolley and Ray Jensen, leader.

Tuesday, August 24 —
To Portland and east on I-84 to Bonneville Dam where we ate lunch under a picnic shelter. Fortunately, the rain stopped so all of us could view the sturgeon ponds.

At the Atomic Museum in Richland, Mary Holser's son-in-law Pat Anolso gave a talk about the Lewis & Clark expedition in this area; he was very knowledgeable on this subject. Overnight at the Hampton Inn in Richland. We had a group dinner at Granny’s Buffet in Kennewick.

Wednesday, August 25 —
A long travel day on I-90; again rain, so we lunched under cover in Osburn, ID. We took a quick tour through historic Wallace, and from St. Regis we traveled back roads along the scenic Clark’s Fork and Flathead Rivers to the St. Ignatius Mission Church. Overnight in Missoula.

Thursday, August 26 —
The complex of museums in Deer Lodge were of special interest; including the Classic Car Museum, the Old Prison and the dolls at Yesterday’s Plaything. After a sit-down lunch at Scharff’s Restaurant, we enjoyed a conducted tour of the Grant-Kohrs Ranch; the ranch house, outbuildings, barns and blacksmith shop all very authentic. Our coffee break was the Wheat Montana Bakery. On to Bozeman, which was very crowded with returning students at Montana State University.

Friday, August 27 —
The Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman was everything we expected . . . and more. Excellent geologic and fossil displays, plus a special L&C art exhibit. The outside grounds consisted of a ranch house, gardens and some work buildings. A “Do Not Miss” museum.

The Computer Museum, recently relocated, covered everything from the caveman to the 21st century. All well presented for both the nerd and the non-nerd.

After lunch in the Lindley City Park, on to the head waters of the Missouri State Park, where the Three Forks unite to form the Missouri River. For native tribes, for Sacajewea, the L&C personnel, trappers and traders, this was a most important place. At the town of Three Forks, we were invited inside the Sacajewea Hotel to enjoy the lobby and the art work, a pleasant unplanned surprise. Again to Wheat Montana for a break and to Helena for two nights.

Saturday, August 28 —
We began the day at the landmark Cathedral of St. Helena with its outstanding Carrera marble and stained glass windows. We also drove around the Mansion District, saw the Governor’s Residence and checked the Last Chance Gulch business area.

Then 20 miles north for a boat tour on the famous Gates of the Mountains, named by the explorers. We had the entire boat to ourselves with an excellent pilot-guide. In great abundance were bald eagles, hawks, mule deer, even a number of Bighorn Rocky Mountain sheep.

We lunched at the dock area and back to Helena for the State Museum. At the Capitol we had a close-up view of the huge painting by Chas. Russell, “Lewis & Clark Meet the Indians at Ross Hole”. At 4:00 p.m. to the downtown where Bruce & Sue Newell met us and led six of us on a hike up Mt. St. Helena; great views from the vast city park. Most of our group shopped, browsed, found the Chocolate Shoppe, checked out the restaurants, etc. Driver Gary Tolle had scouted this section of town for us, and even distributed maps of all the important places. Gary provided shuttle service for us as we were scattered all over town. We are most appreciative of his services, both on and off the bus.

Sunday, August 29 —
First to the famous Berkeley Pit in Butte, now half full of water in a monstrous excavation. Then on to the Miners’ Memorial on an overlook of a former mining site with visible signs of devastation all around. At 11:00 we toured the Copper King Mansion, home of Wm. Clark, not to be confused with his rival, Marcus Daly, whose home in Hamilton we visited several years ago. We lunched at Emma Mine Park in downtown Butte, then on to Anaconda where the major smelter was located. The huge smokestack still dominates the skyline.

On to the Museum of Fort Missoula, established in 1877 as a military fort during the time Chief Joseph was active. During World War II it was an internment camp for Italian POWs and, sadly, also for Japanese-Americans.

We ended a full day with a walk through the Rose Garden with its several war memorials and drove by the campus of the University of Montana where an adjacent hillside still shows evidence of the ripple marks from the Missoula floods. Ewart pointed these out, as well as many other facets of geology each day.

Monday, August 30 —
A big Lewis & Clark day, starting at the newly opened Travelers Rest State Park. We walked the area where the Expedition camped on both directions of their journey.

Up to the Visitor Center at Lolo Pass, a facility dedicated last year by the daughters of Stephen Ambrose. We also drove to Packer Meadows, even today an inviting, pleasant campsite for people and animals.

Next we enjoyed the short hike at DeVoto Cedar Grove along the scenic Lochsa River. We lunched at the Wilderness Gateway Campground, and then to the nearby historic Ranger Station — an interesting place that survived the 1934 forest fire but is still a primitive place without electricity even now.

Our final stop was the Canoe Camp on the Clearwater. Phil Johnston displayed some of the L&C weaponry and his partner, John Fisher, had a display of the medicines and medical implements used by the captains. Both these experts gave us insights and told us about the importance here. Dugout canoes were fashioned to complete the downstream journey to the mouth of the Columbia. Overnight at the Holiday Inn Express in Lewiston. All riders pronounced it excellent.

Tuesday, August 31 —
A 450-mile day, so speed limits were ignored. Southeast Washington (Pomeroy) is Ewart Baldwin’s home country; he had much to say about the area and L&C travels here. We had an hour at the Whitman Mission. Then to the Baldwin Saloon in The Dalles for lunch. Here we recognized driver Gary Tolle for his many services and awarded him an official Obsidian sweatshirt. An uneventful final leg home, arriving at 6:15.

Kudos to . . .

the following individuals, who are recognized for their contributions to the success of this trip.

  • Liz Reanier—Co-leader. Coordinated all hotel accommodations, Handled a veritable mountain of necessary paper work.
  • Ewart Baldwin—Co-leader. For his geology and knowledge of the history of the area.
  • Rosella Jones—Reservations and sign-up. A BIG job.
  • Mary Lee Cheadle—She, and others, for their work on hospitality.
  • Don Payne—Stepped in to assist Gary with baggage and equipment; lots of heavy lifting.
  • Pat Anolso—Lewis & Clark presentation at Richland, WA.
  • Bruce & Sue Newell—Led the hike up Mt. Helena.
  • John Fisher—(At the Canoe Camp) Medical aspects of Lewis & Clark.
  • Phil Johnston—Lewis & Clark expedition’s weaponry.
  • Gary Tolle—Professional, personable, worked overtime for our convenience. Mega Kudos.
  • ALL RIDERS—A very cooperative and pleasant group. Thanks to all for a wonderful experience.

—RAY JENSEN (Trip Leader)

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