Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hot Springs, MT, and Kalispell

I was headed back to Kalispell for repair work on my RV.  On my way I decided to check out the town of Hot Springs, MT.  A soak in some mineral springs sounded really good.
There are 3 hot springs and mineral bath establishments in the area, but this was the one located in town.  I stopped by and found for only $7 I could soak all day long and even stay and listen to live music in the evening if I wanted.  

Long before the white man commercialized this area, the native indians had been soaking in the healing waters for years.  In 1855 this area was set aside as a government reserve.  In 1910 it was opened for homesteading and this area then became the townsite of Hot Springs, which sits alongside Warm Springs Creek.  In 1929 Fred Symes bought this land and built this mission style hotel, catering to visitors who came for the curative mineral waters.  In the 1950s hot springs and their popularity started to decline and by 1990 the town population, which was once 5,000, was down to 400.  The Symes Hotel is now under new ownership and is partnered with the Hot Springs Artist Society.  
There are private tubs and steam rooms for additional dollars located inside the hotel, but the main pools are outside.  The largest is kept at 98 degrees.  There are two smaller pools, one is kept at 104, and the other at 109.  I spent several hours enjoying the curative mineral waters of Symes Hot Springs.

This little white church grabbed my attention because of the sign.

I guess the town isn't big enough for both a Lutheran Church and a Presbyterian Church.

I've been in Kalispell for two weeks and have taken only 2 pictures, wild turkeys in the local city park.  I've been getting repairs on my RV, a new heater core, which should stop my radiator from leaking, and a new a/c compressor for my dash air.  (Now that summer is almost over, I get my a/c fixed)  Both required the ordering of parts, and one part took over a week to arrive.  But Loren's Auto and RV Repair was great, fixing me up next to their repair shop and even plugging me into electricity.  On the days I had to be out of the RV while they were working on it, Fancy and I took off for some exploring.
I also had a chance to return to Dr. Popp, the chiropractor I had seen when I was here last month.  Between going to Dr. Popp, attending his stretch classes, and dropping in to the Kalispell Yoga with Jane Adams, going to the Picnic in the Park on Tuesday evenings and Wednesday noon, I have been pretty busy.
After the repairs were completed I moved over to the Kalispell Elk Lodge.  They have a full athletic facility with pool, hot tub, exercise room and even 3 racquetball courts.  They have great biking and hiking trails around the area, so I have taken advantage with Fancy and I checking out most of them.  
Returning my RV to Loren's last Friday for some routine maintenance (not repairs), they did find another problem.  So, I guess I'll be here a few more days until they can do some final work on my RV.  But that's ok.  I like Kalispell and it allowed me to go to the farmers market one more time.
I also had the opportunity to drive down to Poulson and visit another RV friend, Pam Conover.  She took me out to see Kerr Dam at the south end of Flathead Lake before heading into Poulson for lunch.
When I leave here I plan on heading towards Jackson, WY, and catching up with the WINs.  At least that's the plan, but as all of us RVers say, "Our plans are in jello".

One of the bike trails in Kalispell.

Celtic band playing at Wednesdays in the Park during lunch.

Wild turkeys wandering around downtown.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pulaski Trail, the longest gondola and Mullen

My final blog of my time at Lookout Pass.  
The start of the Pulaski Trail, just outside of Wallace, ID. It is a 2 mile trail along the old Busy, Bogle Spur.  The spur was a 7 mile logging railroad which ran up the North Fork of the St. Joe River.  The spur operated from 1912-1915 and was built to salvage timber from the 1910 fire.

There were lots of berries to nibble on while hiking.

The Cedar Snag, a still standing remnant of the 1910 fire.

Not only were there thimbleberries and huckleberries, there were rasberries, too.

And they were just there for the pickin'.

At the end of the trail lies the Pulaski Tunnel.  Pulaski was a leader of a fire crew during the devastating fire of 1910.  When he saw the fire was going to overtake him and his crew, he ordered his crew to grab blankets and follow him.  Because of his familiarity with the area, he knew there was an old tunnel close by.  He herded his men into the tunnel and told them to cover themselves with the blankets.  Because of his quick action, he only lost six of the 45 men on his crew.  At one point he had to pull his gun and threaten to shoot anyone who tried to leave.  No one left.

Following the fire, Pulaski had the idea of combination fire fighting tool.  His first version came about in 1911, with a better usable tool in 1913.  By 1920 the Northern District Forest Service was routinely issuing this tool to its fire fighters.  Today, the forest service nationwide keeps large inventories of the "Pulaski".

Silver Mountain Ski Resort in Kellogg.

Since I had ridden on the steepest gondola in France, I just had to ride on this 'longest, single stage gondola' in Kellogg.

Here I go for the 3.1 mile ride (one way).

It takes about 20 minutes to arrive at the top.

There's not much at the top except for a lot of biking and hiking trails, not even the snack bar was open yet when we were there.  But you do have a great view of the valley as you head back down.

Mullen, Idaho, is a small town between Lookout Pass and Wallace, with a population of about 600.
More of a bedroom community, it has a few churches, restaurants and bars and a museum.  Friday evening was BBQ and music outdoors at the Motherlode Bistro.

Jackleg and the Nippers were the band, playing classic rock.  The music took me back to my high school days.

The lead singer was an actor and had different costumes for the different songs.

Tomorrow I leave Lookout Pass and head back toward Kalispell.  More about that, next blog.

Monday, September 2, 2013

More of Wallace

More interesting things in Wallace.
The Oasis Bordello was still operating until 1988, yes, that right, 1988.  When some FBI arrived in town, the Oasis was notified and the girls left immediately, not even packing their clothes, toiletries or anything.  In fact, a sack of groceries still sat on the counter where it was left, not having time to put food away.  It was a false alert, since the FBI were actually after the corrupt sheriff.  But the owner of the bordello decided it was time to shut down anyway and the girls never returned.  The building sat vacant for some years, although several businesses tried to operate in the downstairs area.  Several years ago it was purchased and the new owner found the rooms upstairs in the same condition they were in when the girls left in 1988 and decided to open a museum.  If you ever get to Wallace, take the tour.

Downstairs in the basement was this old projector, purchased for $203 in 1909 for the Liberty Theater. It was given to West Valley High School in 1926 and used until 1937.  It was donated to the museum in 1993.

The original door into the Oasis and the start of our tour.

The girls toiletries are just as they were in 1988.

Each girl has a similar lamp, only the color of the lamp and doll is different.

You can now purchase the bordello "menu" as a hand towel, apron or even a t-shirt.
I can't begin to tell you of all the interesting things we heard on the tour, but it was estimated the girls could make $100,000 in one year and many were college students who worked only for a short season to finance their education.

The Sixth Street Melodrama.

Of course the play had to be about mining, I mean, we are in a mining community.  The play was "Mining Madness at the Mill or A Big Bang for Bunker Hill".

It was a small cast, but more talented than many melodrama's I've been too.

After the play they had songs and skits.  The most popular was the 3 act cow skit.  I won't give it away because it you go the WINs All Singles Dance Rally in Wickenburg, AZ, Nov 12-21, you just might see it performed at the Talent/No Talent Show.

Four of the six actors are related.  The older man and woman are husband and wife, Paul and Carol Roberts.   Paul is the English, Speech and Drama teacher at Kellogg High School.  His two daughters are also part of the show (one is in the black dress and one in the blue dress).  The taller girl in the red dress is new this season, but the young man, Wyatt Sepa-Newell, has been with the company since 2005 and he is just finishing high school.  He has also signed with a talent agency, so who knows, he may show up on Broadway some day.

The Northern Pacific Railroad Depot was built in 1902, but was moved to its current location, across the river, when I-90 was constructed.  The only president to visit Wallace was Teddy Roosevelt in 1903, where he welcomed with a parade.

The fixtures in this upstairs bathroom in the depot are original and were used by the residents, which would have been the depot train station master and his family and maybe some of the trainmen who were passing through.


Lana Turner grew up here as a child and came back to sell War Bonds during WWII.

The picture of this train wreck in 1903 captivated me.  An avalanche took out part of the S curve wooden trestle, causing one of its engines and a caboose to plunge 80 feet into 30 feet of snow.  Miraculously, no one was injured.

For more interesting facts on Wallace, check out this site:

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Wallace, ID

Twelve miles from Lookout Pass was Wallace, ID.  With only a population of 900, it seemed larger, yet still very much a small town.  
The day I arrived the town was celebrating the Accordian Festival.

Need I say more?

True to their mining heritage, there were old pieces of mining equipment all around town.

I thought this a clever use of an old mine car.

We took the trolley tour and learned all about the history of Wallace.

There is even a Carnegie Library, dating from 1911. Did you know there are over 17,000 Carnegie Libraries in the U.S.?

All the buildings in town are on the National Register of Historic Places.  In fact, the entire town was included.  Yes, the entire town.  Harry Magnuson was a business leader in the northwest, but he never forgot his hometown of Wallace, and when the Federal Highway Administration planned to route I-90 right through the heart of Wallace, he took steps to stop this from happening.  Long story short, Harry sued the government and won, getting his beloved town designated as a historic place stopped the bulldozers.  To get the rest of the story I guess you'll just have to visit.

The local motto

This carving was from an existing tree.

The original church site for Trinity Episcopal Church was purchased in 1887 and a wooden church built in 1889.  After a devasting fire, which destroyed most buildings in town, the current building was erected in 1911.  According to our tour guide on the trolley, the dark bricks came from the ashes of the fire and were reused here.

That's some trailer.  Two bikes on top of the car, the trailer pulling two kayaks and two more bikes.

I doubt this boat will ever see the water again, but it makes a nice planter.  Notice the Christmas lights?

What do you do with a bus when it's no longer being used to carry passengers?  Turn it into a drive in.  Although it doesn't look to be open, peering in the windows I could still see the grills and even soda cups.  It looked like they could open back up for business anytime.

A local zipline company transports their customers using this van and after you have completed ziplining, you get to sign the van.  No, I didn't stop to count the names.

There is some wonderful architecture around town, but this corner is especially important because....

as the sign says, "It's the Center of the Universe".

I stayed a few extra days so I could come back the next weekend for the Huckleberry Festival.

Just a cute, small town festival.  I was hoping to find lots of huckleberries for sale, but only one booth had them and they were $20 quart or pound, anyway, much more expensive than I found around Kalispell.  But they did have lots of huckleberry pies, pastries, jellies and of course, ice cream.

I'm sure someone out there understands this car, but it's not me. Still cute, though.
The next blog will be about the infamous Wallace bordello, the melodrama and the train museum.