Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day 6- We are Blown Away By the Pioneer Mountains

September 20th 2010 Day 6- Monday

Today is the first day that we are starting to venture into unknown territory. We headed south from Butte, mid-day, on I-15 to a state highway and onto a parkway that travels through the Pioneer Mountains after passing through Wise River, MT. It is super beautiful out here, aside from the tragedy of all the beetle-killed pines with their sad brown needles in place of where healthy green ones should be.  I wish I knew more about this area, especially about the homesteaders in the Pioneers, so in the future I’ll have to research the areas we’re about to enter so that I can better understand them.

There were so many beautiful trailheads and overlooks and campsites that we were not sure where to stop but we eventually turned up an unpaved forest road (despite our experiences with the unpaved Skalkaho mountain pass) that led to Coolidge Ghost Town. We stopped after a mile at a campground and detached the trailer from the truck. It was pretty chilly so we put on an extra layer. We decided to check out the ghost town so we got in Tyler’s truck and chugged 4 miles up a dirt road to the former mining camp. It was about a ¼ mile walk to the first part of town where the remains of only a few buildings remained on the ground. About another ¼ of a mile further exposed the heart of this mini-city, once home to at least a thousand people. I wish there was some more interpretive materials to go along with what we were seeing (like there is for Garnet Ghost Town, for example) but it was still interesting to be in a place with such interesting history. It’s fascinating to think of all the people who toiled in the exact spot in which you are standing, all of the hard work that went into building this civilization and maintaining a livelihood through incredibly harsh winters. One thing that was different about this ghost town is that it actually had electricity! They spent close to $150,000 on setting up power lines to connect this town to the electrical grid! I want to find more info on Coolidge and get back to you with more accurate history in the near future. 

At Coolidge Ghost Town

An Outhouse at Coolidge Ghost Town... Why are there 2 toilets?!

Tin Cans in a pile represent how garbage was disposed of in the early 20th Century

We returned to the campsite just before dark. It was so cold we had multiple layers on. This was the first night we had to worry about our pipes freezing because it was going to get well below freezing during the night. We turned on the hot water heater and ran hot water through our lines so they wouldn't freeze. We turned the heat on a bit to help as well. 

We went for a walk before going to sleep and ran into one of the other people staying at the campground with us. He and his wife were visiting from Wisconsin. I don't often think of people from Wisconsin as having accents but my god! He pronounced Wisconsin like Wis-can-sin! After chatting for a bit we headed back into the semi-warmth of the travel trailer.

The next morning we woke up and the water in Hanz's outside bowl was frozen. Good thing we were anticipating that!

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