August 19, 2017- Trip Day #17
We left Billings this morning. We are not in a hurry but we still pulled out at 0800 hours. I couldn’t screw up our route today as we only need to travel east on I-90 to I-94 and head towards North Dakota. If I miss that junction we’d wind up in Wyoming or South Dakota! All goes as planned as we swing northeast on the 94.
Our first impression of the territory around us is that it is rugged. Almost badlands rugged. We pass the Pompey’s Pillar National Monument turnoff as I have second thoughts of visiting that historical location.
The monument was used as one of William Clarks navigational landmarks during the Lewis and Clark Expedition back in 1806. He even inscribed the rock and that inscription is preserved today. Bad decision on my part. Unfortunately the signage to most places does not include mileage anymore. Pompeys Pillar was less than 2 miles from the interstate….. crap!
We travel from badlands to prairie, back to very eroded hills, to prairie following the Yellowstone River all the while. A rest stop sign enlightens us to the importance of this area. William Clark stopped at the convergence of the Yellowstone and Bighorn Rivers to camp and reconnoiter on his way back from the Pacific Ocean in 1806. A year later a fella named Manuel Lisa established a trading post at the same location- the first building in what is now the state of Montana. Lisa sent John Coulter out to contact the Indians to let them know that he would trade for furs. In Coulters quest for Indians he discovered what is now Yellowstone National Park.
We continue on and stop in a town known as Forsyth. Ya never know what you’ll find in a small town and we found that it is the seat of Rosebud County…. and its celebrating an event that requires blocking the main drag.
No problem- we maneuver around the back side and wind up at the county courthouse. The courthouse was built in 1914 with a budget of $125,000 but went over budget by $40,000. The county refused to pay the contractor the extra cash, the contractor locked himself inside the courthouse. That all came to an end when the court awarded the contractor what was due him. By the way, the town looks like its had better days.
We continue heading towards North Dakota. Our destination is Miles City, MT. On a mowed field we spy pronghorns grazing in field stubble. We pull into Miles City before noon, our second seat.
Miles City is the seat of Custer County and is obviously more prosperous than Forsyth. The place is named for General Nelson Miles who is credited with the subjugation of the remaining “uncontrolled” Native Americans in the 1880’s. According to Miles his larger problem was the sellers of spirits to his troops so he kicked them out of camp- but they just moved a short ways from the fort and established what is now Miles City.
Miles City is home to the infamous Range Riders Museum. According to the Miles City Visitors Guide 2009 edition, “The Range Riders Museum captures the essence of area ranches, railroads, Indian villages, Fort Keogh and all the things that make south-eastern Montana special and historical.” And that it does. If you have a spare couple of hours to do the museum justice, drop on in.
We overnight in the Miles City KOA. Nothing fancy but all necessary amenities are offered. Even a very small swimming pool. It’s located on the south side of town near the confluence of the Tongue and Yellowstone Rivers. We are under cottonwood trees to block the hot sun. This park could be really nice if the grass wasn’t browned out and the pads gravel renewed.
Tomorrow we head to new territory- North Dakota and the town of Dickinson.