Tour Montana Historical Society and Cathedral of Saint Helena
Helena to Great Falls: 88 miles
Spectacular scenery alternated with art, history and architecture today. What more could you want?
Soon after we left the Fairmont resort, we passed Butte, and we could see the huge Berkeley Pit, a mining operation which is obviously even bigger than when we toured it some years ago.
East of Butte I-15 follows a natural pass through a sharp wall of mountains, climbing as high as 6368 feet and crossing the Great Continental Divide at Elk Park Pass. A divide is a geological term referring to a place that divides rivers that flow toward the Pacific ocean from those that flow toward the Atlantic. The Great Divide runs along the whole continent.
The highway descends to about 4100 feet, then goes up and down a curvy route through lower mountains, sometimes wooded with conifers, sometimes bare. I took a lot of video footage from the car but no still shots.
In Helena our first goal was the Montana Historical Society, known as Montana's Museum. Dan was interested in photographing the McKay collection of Charlie Russell paintings. The collection is a little disappointing because it is mainly his early work, not the best stuff. The best of his work is at the Amon Carter in Fort Worth and the Gilcrease in Tulsa, but it is good to see the development of your favorite artists. Dan photographed just about every painting—perhaps 30. I concentrated on the few works that depicted women or were not on the Western theme.
Here's an unusually intimate portrait by Charles Russell. The portrayal of a Native American woman is very convincing, but the model was actually his wife Nancy.
|Charles M. Russell, Keeoma, 1898|
|Charles M. Russell, Valentine|
|Three styles of wedding dresses in 19th Century Montana|
|Playing dress-up to learn about history|
|Cathedral of St. Helena|
The drive to Great Falls on I-15 north was very scenic going through the narrow canyons of the Missouri river. High cliffs, alternated with beautiful meadows and cottonwoods along the river. We spotted a few trout fishermen trying their luck.
We arrived in Great Falls around 6:30. The Best Western Heritage Inn is huge and sprawling. It has a restaurant, lounge, casino, and an espresso bar. It was great not to have to go looking for a dinner place. And the restaurant was actually quite good. The asparagus was freshly steamed for each order, and it never tasted so delectable. Dan enjoyed his flatiron steak.