Tag Archives: Montana Museums

Mount Rushmore Road Trip Part 10

30 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 10 Friday 


Today I lett Rapid City and headed north on I-90/SD-34 toward Newell, SD.  My route took me thru Sturgis, SD where I stopped to visit the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum located in downtown Sturgis.  This museum has two floors with some 100+ beautifully restored rare and antique motorcycles dating from 1905.  The museum also has been intrumental in supporting the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (similar to Bike Week in Daytoa, FL). 

Just a couple of miles east of Sturgis on SD-34 I visited the Fort Meade Museum located on the Old Fort Meade, SD site.  Established in 1878 the fort was designed to protect the early settelers and prospectors from the Sioux Indians after the Black Hills Treaty of 1877 was broken.  This museum is located in the old Army Headquarters building and has three floors diplaying artifacts and memorabilia discribing the life of the early Army personnel and their families stationed at the fort over its lifetime. In the parade ground, across from the museum is an historical marker which tells the story of our National Anthem.

As I headed north on SD-79 from Old Fort Meade, I saw a sign for the Ride-N-Rest Motorcyclee Motel just off the hiway and had to stop for a photo.  i didn’t see anyone around to ask about the motel or an office where a person would check-in/register.

But the acommidations (if that’s what they are) were very unusual.  There was a row of individual small buildings (cabins?) that looked as though they might be big enough for two people (one bed) and a motorcycle (not sure about a 3-wheeler).  Each building (cabin?) had its own name.  There was the General Store, Bank, Doctor, Saloon, US Marshal, Fire House, Barber Shop and etc.  What a “Hoot” that was!

Another 25 miles north on SD-79 I visited the Newell Museum located in Newell, SD.  This small museum is located in the same building as the City Hall (which once was the Newell Garage), and displays many artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of the early settelers and businesses in the Newell and Butte county. SD area dating from the mid-1800s.

Now I headed west 15 miles on US-212 to visit the Tri-State Museum located just south of the Belle Fourche River in Belle Fourche, SD.  This museum has artifact collections related to the early natives, settelers, prospectors, ranchers, and cowboys, who have built the surrounding region dating from the 1800s.

I headed south on US-85 to visit the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery located adjacent to the Rainbow Trout Pond in Spearfish, SD.  On the way, I passed thru Jolly Dump, SD (I get a kick out of the varied creativity of some people when naming towns).  This attraction has an amazing history.  As part of the Spearfish Hatcheries Complex, the hatchery was one of 70 opened in 1896 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide Rainbow Trout to the rivers of SD and Wyoming.  The system continues to breed and release 20-30 thousand Rainbow Trout to those rivers each year.

Now I headed another 15 miles southeast on US-85 to visit the Adams Museum located in the former 1892 Franklin house in Deadwood, SD.  This museum was founded by W. E. Adams, who bought the Franklin house in 1920, and is furnished with original Adams family Queen-Ann furniture.  The Museum’s collection include artifacts and memorabilis dating from Deadwood’s Wild West history including those of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane to name just a few.

One of the things that Deadwood is famous for is the place where Wild Bill Hickok was killed by Jack McCall on August 2, 1876.  I walk a few blocks to the Saloon No. 10 on Main Street, where a daily Main Street shootout reinactment was to take place.  I met another tourist and we sat on a bench across the street from Saloon No. 10 talking about our travels while awaiting the activities.  The 2:00 Shootout time came and passed, and  I was wondering when they were going to block off the street.  About 2:15 a man came out of the saloon and said the shootout had been cancled for that day.  Bummer!

I walked back to my car and drove up Main Street a mile or so to visit the Days of ’76 Museum, located there in Deadwood, adjacent to Whitewood Creek.  This amazing museum features 50+ old west horse drawn wagons of all types, from carriges to stagecoachs.  All these in honor of, and to represent, the efforts of the many early prospectors, settelers, miners, and muleskinners who came to the Black Hills area during the 1876 gold rush years.

Now I headed back toward Rapid City and my motel.  By the time I got to the motel I was really hungry.  I warmed up my leftover Mexican Pizza from last night and enjoyed that delicious taste treat again.  Then I recorded my day’s activities and tried to watch a little TV.  But 

I couldn’t stay awake, so I gave it up and piled into bed for a good night’s sleep.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

America’s North Country Trip~Part 8

8 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites



Day 8 (Friday)


After a short drive west on I-90 this morning, I visited the World Museum of Mining located on the outskirts of Butte, MT. This museum is located on a 22-acre site of what is an inactive silver & zinc mine named the Orphan Girl. As part of the museum, there is a 37- building reconstruction of a typical mining town called “Hell Roarin’ Gulch” which displays thousands of articles common to the miner’s way of life in the early 1890’s. I didn’t try to walk on the cobble-stoned streets, and stuck to the boardwalks on either side of the street.



I-90 makes a swing northwest, thru the mountains as I headed to visit the Old Montana Prison located in Deer Lodge, MT. I discovered that the Powell County Museum & Arts Foundation (PCMAF) operates what they describe as a museum complex, with several museums within a three block area. This included five of the museums I had on my list to visit there in Deer Lodge. I started with the Old Prison Museum. This is a massive prison complex, said to have been built using prison labor. This early 1800’s Montana Territory prison is now being maintained by the PCMAF but is not restored. As a result, there are only certain parts of the prison that can be toured.



Since one ticket gets you into all of the Museum Complex museums, I now walked next door to the Montana Auto Museum. This museum consists of over 150 beautifully restored automobiles dating back to 1903. It’s hard for me to walk thru an auto museum like this and not want to stop and take a photo of each and every auto, as well as read all about them.



Across the street I started with the Powell County Museum which consisted of local early Montana artifacts and memorabilia. Another store next door included handmade items (mostly leather goods) that inmates have made at the Montana State Prison and are brought here for sale.



The Cottonwood City park was a collection of restored early 1850’s Montana prairie structures including a church, a one-room schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop and a gazebo.



Next door was the Frontier Montana Museum which consisted of mostly pioneer and early Montana artifacts and memorabilia, including a covered wagon and a sheriff’s office and jail cell, and the Capa’s Cowboy Collection. This building also housed the WWII Exhibit which included U.S. Army and USAAC artifacts, and memorabilia. I was surprised to see a display for the memory of Bud Anderson, a B-24 pilot during WWII. I knew of a Bud Anderson who was a P-51 fighter ace during WWII, so couldn’t correlate the names with the planes they flew.



Now it was back onto I-90, heading west to visit the Smokejumpers Visitor Center located in Missoula, MT. This was a very informative facility, located adjacent to the Missoula International Airport. I was informed that Missoula is home to the largest smokejumper base in the U.S. The Visitor Center also has a smoke jumpers loft that allows visitors an opportunity to learn about firefighting procedures, smoke jumping history, and other fire related issues.



At the other end of the Missoula International Airport I visited the Museum of Mountain Flying. This museum turned out to be situated in a one large hanger with several beautifully restored aircraft, including the original DC-3 used to drop the Mann Gulch smokejumpers in August 1949. Unfortunately 13 jumpers were overcome and died in that fire. The museum also displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the Rocky Mountain flying history.


Now I went looking for the Boone & Crockett Club located on the Clark Fork River there in Missoula. Here again Greta had a hard time locating the address. She would tell me I had arrived at the requested address, when actually the building was below that location on the riverbank. This turned out to be a private club, founded by Theodore Roosevelt and other visionaries in 1887. The idea behind the club was basically wildlife conservation for future generations. Since I was not a member, and wasn’t a guest of anyone, I wasn’t invited in. That was just as well, since it was time to head for my motel there in Missoula for the evening.




As luck would have it, on the way to the motel, I came across a Fuddruckers’s Restaurant (one of my favorites) and stopped in to experience one of their “Elk Burgers” for the first time. No. it didn’t taste like chicken. It tasted like venison, in case any of you has ever eaten venison.   As usual, it was delicious, and I went to the motel with a full and happy tummy.



—–To Be Continued—–




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