Saturday, October 10, 2009

Helena Montana

But first... a few words about Helena Montana and surrounding area. Helena is so much more than I had expected for a "western town". It built up during the silver and gold rush and was home to more millionaires than any other city in the world. This is reflected in the beautiful big churches, wonderful old city center buildings and the mansion district up on the hill. For an architecture nut, I was in heaven. The Great Northern Carousel in Helena features all kinds of animals that one would find in Montana. I had a blast photographing the swirling buffalo,wild cat, antelope, horses, frog, indian pony, bear, otter (you could ride on his belly)mountain goat,trout, my favorite, a sort of mermaid horse and many more. All in beautiful condition.

We headed out for a drive around the area and ended up in Elkhorn, a "ghost town" up in the mountains from the silver and gold rush days. It was built around a big silver mine and thrived for years. The old buildings are still there and are mostly privately owned. Just 2 buildings are public and available for tourists to view. There is new construction in the town and people are once again making their homes there. A strange blend of the very old with the new. The old cemetary is still in use. The markers ranging from no longer legible wooden markers, to turn of the century ornate carved stone, to modern granite marking more recent burials. We took photographs inside and outside the old Fraternity Hall. As I was walking back to the car, I turned and looked and had to blink. For a second I could have sworn that I saw someone up in the window....

One area we drove past was full of cattle. On the fence posts we found a series of stuffed animals. We pondered if this was a "warning" or not....

We stopped at an Irish Catholic church built by pioneers and restored by descendants of those pioneers. On one grave of an Irish woman was a hole carved in the stone just perfect to fit the empty bottle of Irish Whiskey that occupied the space. How fitting.

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