Wednesday, September 13, 2017

US12: Miles City MT

There's still a lot of wildfire smoke in the air, but Happy and I both needed a day off from the road. So, we had a lazy morning, renewed our motel registration, then headed out to see what Miles City has to offer.

Being a "dog first" expedition, priority number one was to find a pleasant diversion for Happy. The local parks do not allow dogs on the property -- which tells you a lot about the town! -- so we drove a few miles to Pirogue Island State Park. Apparently, this is a place where the Voyage of Discovery crew spent some time on the banks of the Yellowstone River.

Happy filled her snout with all kinds of new smells while I did battle with mosquitoes. Having "deep woods" repellent helped, but I was still a swatting maniac. I took a few hits, but got my share of the enemy in return. Happy got her fill then drank an entire bottle of water. Yes, it is that dry here!

Next, we made a "human stop" at the Range Riders Museum. It is a sprawling campus of buildings, crammed full of just about everything they could get their hands on.

There are a warren of rooms in the main buildings which display saddles, ropes, guns, furniture, fixtures, etc. I reprise my suggestion to museums that they be more selective about what they display. Sometimes more is too much.

In one large banquet hall, the walls are covered with commemorative pictures of people. In another, there are hundreds of pictures of "famous cowboys." In yet another room, there are hundreds of pairs of boots on pedestals. You get the idea.

Of course, there's a reconstruction of old main street.

What's good about the museum is that it does a thorough job of explaining Miles City's history.

The first major milestone was becoming a center of cattle and other livestock ranching. Vast grazing lands, ample water and entrepreneurial individuals were essential in this phase.

Next was the establishment of a large military presence for fighting the frontier wars. There's a lot to that story, of course, so just keep in mind that The Little Bighorn is about 100 miles southwest of here.

Third was development of a major rail hub. In addition to being a transportation hub, vast maintenance and service facilities were built here. Being just about halfway between Chicago and the West Coast helped account for this development.

Don't get me wrong, it's a good museum and worth a visit if you're in the area. Just keep your head down and try to focus on the good, big picture stuff. Otherwise your head might explode.

For me, the highlights were the large, well done dioramas of various development phases, along with audio descriptions. Here's a photo of the one showing Fort Keogh:

It's been a lazy afternoon of sorting gear, checking maps, fueling up the rig and getting ready to hit the road tomorrow morning... Stay tuned!

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