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Capital Building - Helena


We headed for Helena Montana via Page (Hwy 89) and then crossed over to Hwy 15, which takes us to Helena.

We really enjoyed Helena, the State Capital of Montana. We found a nice campground and took the tours of the city. This is a rather old city and the old part of town where all the millionaires of the past built their homes is fascinating. Just walking around town is fun, seeing all the old buildings and doing the walking mall. Many of the old buildings have been taken over by modern businesses which is a great way to preserve them.

We also took the boat ride to the "Gates to the Mountains" as Lewis & Clark named them. They are a pair of rock cliffs on each side of the river that L&C had to pass through. This boat tour is about 18 miles north of Helena on Hwy 15.

Underground Mining Museum The "Gates to the Mountains" are not as tall as L&C saw them because of a damn downstream.

A bar in the underground


Havre (pronounced "Ha ver") is rather unique in that it has an underground part (or used to have). Both of the sides of the main street had building that all have basements. These basements were interconnected by passage ways that formed an underground part of the city. There were whore houses, barber shops, bars, laundries a bakery, and just about anything that was above ground. There is a tour that you can take of a small portion of this underground that has been restored.

Underground barber shop Madem's quarters in the underground

Left: An underground barber shop.
Right: The Madam's quarters in one of the whore houses in the underground.

Main street in Ft. Benton


A good day trip is to Fort Benton, about an hours drive south of Havre. It is the site of the last stop for the river boats on the Missouri. That is as far up river as they could go, and then only during the runoff season.

There are two museums and a tour of old Fort Benton. Fort Benton was a fur trading fort. The tour of the fort was one of the best tours that we have taken. "Spoon", our tour guide, was really excellent in the way he described the culture of both the indians and the the trading post personnel. It was a great insight into the ways of doing business and the way people thought back in those days.

Reconstruction of a L&C boat Big Muddy as it flows through Ft. Benton

Left: A reconstruction of one of the boats used by the L&C Corps of Discovery.
Right: "Big Muddy", the Missouri river as it flow through Ft. Benton.


This is an archeological site of a 2000 year old buffalo jump.

The indians of that time used to kill large numbers of buffalo by running them over the high cliffs. There was a corral across the base of the jump to catch the buffalo that were not killed. The indians believed that they had to kill all the buffalo or else any that escaped would go back to the herd and tell the others about the trap.

There were several places that the buffalo were butchered and the meat and bone marrow were processed so that the indians could take it with them.

Wahkpa Chu'gn archeological site Buffalo jump description

Left: Wahkpa Chu'gn archeological site. The cliffs have eroded and are now sloping hills.
Right: Description of the buffalo jump and how it was used.

Corral example Excavated butchering site

Left: An example of the fence that was used to form the corral at the base of the jump.
Right: An excavation of one of the butchering sites. The layered bones date back 1600 years.

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