Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Hi-Line historical tour

The Bearpaw National Battlefield marker depicting Chief Joseph's surrender in 1877.

Where the surrender occurred.

Chief Joseph's speech.
A battlefield kill site.

This shoulder season is driving me nuts.  You've got to be creative to enjoy a time when skiing is crummy and it's not quite right for hiking.
So, creative we were on Saturday, as we headed to the Hi-Line for some entertainment.
We've been there several times before, but we started the day at the Bearpaw National Battlefield, where in 1877, the Nez Perce Indians ended their flight from the U.S. Cavalry and their Chief Joseph made his famous surrender, declaring that, "As the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."
This battlefield, 15 miles south of Chinook, is a deeply spiritual place, where the spirits of slaughtered Indians, warriors, women and children and the U.S. military personnel they killed defending themselves, hang in the rolling hills along Snake Creek at the foot of the Bearpaw Mountains.
The battlefield's trail covers 1.25 miles, with a side trail of 1.5 miles roundtrip, with 11 interpretive signs.
The spots where Indian chiefs and soldiers fell are well marked, as is the spot of the surrender.  The Indian sites were covered with offerings from visitors, including tobacco.
The Nez Perce here fell just 40 miles short of safety in Canada.
This was the first time we saw the new interpretive signs and they add greatly to the experience as does a good map available at the trailhead.
The snow-covered mountains offered a scenic backdrop to the trail.  The sky, threatening with storm clouds, was especially scenic.
There is a battlefield museum in Chinook, but it is open Monday through Friday 1 to 5 p.m., so we missed it.

One of the 25 brothel cribs at the Havre Underground
Afterward we headed to Havre to tour the Havre Beneath the Streets Underground Tour, which we enjoyed immensely.
The tour costs $12 and takes about an hour and covers a historic city beneath the downtown which thrived from 1904-06 after the city burned down in 1904.  Businesses simply moved to the basements of businesses, connected to one another with tunnels, while the city rebuilt.  This underground network was restored when tours began in 1994.
There were bars, a brothel with 25 numbered cribs, a bakery, butcher shop, blacksmith, a Chinese laundry, and fully furnished pharmacy.
The tour, given by an experienced tour guide, offers many historical anecdotes about Havre and surrounding communities and places like nearby Fort Assiniboine, once a major Indian wars fort.  It made me realize how different the history is not that far north of Great Falls.
A representation of bootlegger and brothel operator Shorty Young's  headquarters in Havre's underground

No comments: