Saturday, June 28, 2014

Into Montana And North To Glacier

We got on the road early Thursday morning after a nice stay in the Arco Craters of the Moon KOA.  Driving north to Butte, Montana we stopped at the local Walmart and restocked our empty pantry so we could make it a few more days.  No need to starve.  We got into Deer Lodge where we had a reservation at another KOA park.  It is a small park next to the river and within four blocks of downtown.  Deer Lodge has several buildings on the National Registry and a group of citizens who want to revitalize the downtown area but they really have their work cut out.  Unfortunately, as with a lot of U.S. small towns, business isn't exactly booming.

It is the home of the Montana State Prison who just happens to be the towns biggest employer.  The city is surrounded by large areas of grass lands, prime area to raise cattle.  At one time Deer Lodge was division headquarters for the Chicago, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad.  The last or "golden spike" of the first transcontinental railroad through Montana was driven at Gold Creek in 1883.  The Northern Pacific Railway was completed with spike.

Small towns thrived when the railroads came.  Business was good.  It was easy to get products from the surrounding areas to market and just as easy to get what the town needed.  During the cold war there was thought to be a need to move men and equipment quickly from one side of the country to the other and the interstate freeway system was built.  Unfortunately for small town America, moving troops and equipment quickly meant bypassing cities and towns.  Instead of a highway through town there was a freeway around town and that coupled with the loss of the railroad in 1980, Deer Lodge has suffered some of the same economic issues as other small towns.  There are some things that still survive but better than 30% of the buildings are empty.  One building housed a leather shop that is now closed, however it appears they just up and left because there is product in all the windows.  Belts, saddles, boots.

While Mia visited the local quilt shop I found the local bakery and they had my favorite, maple bars.

I find it very sad that many small towns have seen prosperity from the railway and desolation from the interstate highway systems.  Yes ,I use the interstate but I much prefer to use other routes whenever possible so I don't miss some wonderful memories as I fly down the freeway at 75.

We left Deer Lodge on Friday morning heading for Coram, Montana and North American RV Park.  We chose not to stay at the KOA park here due to the amount they charge.  While we would likely have cable and other amenities we are happy with basics and wi fi for much less money.  The park is nice, clean and well kept.  We arrived late afternoon on Friday and had time to visit Glacier National Park to see what was available for us to do.  After a short discussion with a ranger at the visitors center we were on our way back to the trailer with brochures in hand to make decisions as to our Saturday.

Hope everyone is well.  Thanks for stopping by.

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