Our route planning for The Lower 48 in 48 Tour is typically pretty loose. This means we have a general direction in which we want to proceed but we don’t make reservations in specific campgrounds too far in advance. This way we can be flexible as we make our way through the country. The general rules are: north in the summers, south in the winters, from east to west. After that, we make it up as we go. In keeping with the North- in- the- summers, south- in- the- winters concept, our general idea had always been to turn south from North Dakota and start our way down through South Dakota, Nebraska, etc. After Mike started studying the map and the calendar, he decided to swing a little farther west when we left North Dakota. It was still September, so the weather was likely to hold out for a while longer before winter started to set in. Montana is a big state with diverse terrain ranging from mountains to plains. The eastern part of the state is a vast land of grassy plains flanked with a rich native American history. We expect to spend some time next summer in the western part of Montana, but we wanted to see what the other part of the state was like too. We decided to put South Dakota on the back burner for a couple of weeks and visit Miles City. This historic western town had plenty of Indian history along with a proud heritage of cowboys, agriculture and livestock. Plus, Mike could dove hunt for free on public lands… during the times he wasn’t fishing.
Miles City is a legendary western town at he confluence of the Tongue and Yellowstone Rivers. In 1876 Col. Nelson Miles built a Cantonment in the area as a base for battle against hostile Indians in the area. As a result of the military installation, merchants and bar owners started sprouting up to service the soldiers. As the area began to expand with settlers, the soldiers began building Fort Keogh two miles from the original site. Here, many of the free Indians, weary of battle with cavalrymen, would surrender to Col. Miles and accept the reservation lifestyle. Miles City is in Custer County. No coincidence. Custer camped in Miles City only weeks prior to his death 135 miles away in the Battle of Little Big Horn.
We stayed at a KOA Campground. It was small, but nice, clean, quiet and within walking distance to downtown (and to a great fishing spot)! Mike had a great time dove hunting and fishing. I had a great time eating the birds and fish. I spent my time looking at the downtown shops and local museums. Our last two stops had been REALLY cramped, so we spent lots of time enjoying our camp spot again. I read my kindle. We walked the dogs through town. I visited the farmer’s market. Mike had a great time hunting. We had dinner at a couple of downtown restaurants. Mike hit some golf balls at the local golf club. We went to church. It was a nice and peaceful two weeks.
The Yellowstone River flows to the north.
The Yellowstone River is approximately 692 miles long.
Flat tire. We were so lucky to discover this development after we were parked. A local tire company came out and took it off to find a huge hole exposing the interior metal of the tire. They couldn’t patch it, so they located another one for us in Billings. A couple of days later, they were back out to get us totally situated. Flat tires are no fun and the $864 invoice at the end was not very exciting, but it was all okay because we did not encounter any danger on the road as a result of the puncture. I think this was the most convenient flat tire, ever.
Not only is there LOTS of hay… there are multiple varieties of hay too!
The dove’s view of Mike hunting.
Mike’s view while dove hunting.
A selfie from The Montana Bar.
The municipal swimming pool is a natural lake two blocks from downtown!
College football season started while were at this stop. Mike is happy now. He would probably be a bit more happy if our Longhorns could win a game!
More fish from the angler. A catfish, a small mouth bass and a sauger. Piper is inspecting the loot.
We were near the trail of Lewis and Clark in this part of the country. Local history says Captain William Clark, Sacagawea, her baby son Pomp, and 22 permanent members of the Corps of Discovery camped here at what is now Pirogue State Park in July of 1806.
We usually don’t get up too early. (For that matter, we usually don’t go to bed too late either)! But Mike was up with the sun on most of our days in Miles City. He was drinking coffee in preparation for either dove hunting or fishing… or both.
Some mule deer watching Mike fish from across the Yellowstone River.
A deer watching Mike hunt for dove.
Some cream cheese and jalapeno stuffed bacon-wrapped dove fresh off of our grill.
This is where Mike fished during our time in Miles City. It was at the confluence of the Tongue and Yellowstone Rivers. It was within walking distance of our camp and he always had good luck!
More fish from the confluence of the two rivers.
The back of our spot at the Miles City KOA.
Sunset through the 100-year old Cottonwood trees in our campground.
There is LOTS of hay in this part of the country. I guess they have to stock up for the winter months!
The 1880’s era Olive Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A scene from the epic film Lonesome Dove was filmed in one of its rooms.
We happened to be in town during the 28th Annual Classic Car Show hosted by the High Plains Classic Car Club. The entire park was filled with antique cars of all makes, models, and ages.
There are two eagles that are long-time residents of Miles City. George and Martha built a big nest in one of the cottonwood trees in a city park near our campground. They grew out of that original nest and recently constructed a newer model in the same tree. They do leave for a couple of months each year, but they always return to raise their eaglets. They even have their own 24/7 eagle cam. The live feed runs when they are in town. Here is the link: http://53431558b81c6.click2stream.com
This sign in the museum made me chuckle. A little bit more of a western slant as compared to the tone of southern charm!
This longhorn is a native Texan.
There is a big history between the Native Americans of this region and the white man that invaded the land. This Reconciliation Blanket was given to the people of Miles City in 2008 (only SEVEN years ago) by the Tribal Council of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.
This velvet quilt dates to 1720 and came from Sweden. It was also in the Range Riders Museum.
A month after the defeat of Col. George Custer’s troops at Little Big Horn, Congress established an Army post to be built at the confluence of the Tongue and Yellowstone Rivers. Building of the site commenced in August of 1876. The military function of the fort was shut down in 1908 and it became a remount station, providing horses for the military. During WWI, more horses were processed here than at any other U.S. army post. Now Fort Keogh is part of the Department of Agriculture and conducts scientific investigations to improve the sustainability of range beef cattle production and the rangeland on which they live.
This photo from the museum cracked me up. Ladies night at Fort Keogh.
A photo from the Range Riders Museum. This is cowboy and indian territory – for sure.
The Range Riders Museum near our campground was an amazing museum. This is a log cabin display in one of their 8 buildings.
A stage coach at the Rough Riders Museum in Miles City.
The bar at the Montana Bar.
The Montana Bar could quite possibly be the most authentic bar I’ve ever been into. Dark. Nostalgic. Polished. The stuffed hamburgers were pretty good too!
No Longhorn Network up in Montana. Mike listened to the game on his phone while we were at the sports bar.
Lots of cool neon after dark in downtown Miles City.
Kevin and his wife had recently purchased the KOA in Miles City (I think they had closed on all the paperwork only one month before we arrived). He was retired from UPS and they moved to Montana from Tennessee. It was fun watching this family becoming familiar with the routines of their endeavor and enjoying the new of every day! We were lucky enough to meet Grandpa too because he came to visit for a few days while we were there.
Some of the beautiful stained glass inside the historic United Methodist Church.
Some of the fresh catch Mike supplied to us during this stop.
We had breakfast one morning at the 600 Café in downtown. It was all-60’s reunion weekend, and I was able to listen in on lots of interesting conversations while we enjoyed our meal.
The Saturday Farmer’s Market was located at a park within walking distance of our campground. We bought fresh corn, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and cookies when we visited.