So last weekend some friends and I took a little road trip around southwest Montana on a day long road trip. We drove around the Ruby Mountains, through the ruby valley, and next to the tobacco roots. It’s kinda crazy how the landscape changes so drastically with driving a few miles around these mountains. We drove through lush river lands, through mountains of overturned earth, and finally back We drove through several small towns along the way. Silver star was not really that note worthy except for an interesting pile of metal with huge metal wheels. Sam and Sheila decided to blow dandelion seeds at each other during our little stop.
Next we stopped in Twin Bridges. They had a little park with a bunch of stuff about lewis and clark’s travels through the area. We goofed off here, playing in the metal teepee, and wooden canoe. We wandered around the fairgrounds and found a playground to waste some time on.
After sufficiently satisfying our inner children, we drove up in the mountains for a little bit. I had read about a short trail that would be a perfect hike for our day abroad. Unfortunately we were unable to find the trail head (they don’t have very good trail maps here in montana). But we enjoyed a nice lunch outdoors, and played in the river.
Next we drove through the ruby valley. The valley gets it’s name from the bounty of rubies (and mostly garnets) that were found in the area.There are many remnants of old miners homes and settlements. We stopped at an old church that was made from local clay in the area.
Also in the area is Nevada City/Virginia City. Nevada city is an old ghost town that has been turned into a tourist attraction similar to Plymouth Plantation. During tourist season (which sadly starts apparently in a few more weeks) actors will live in the town, and act in a manner similar to townsfolk back in the early 1900’s. While only a few of the buildings are original to the town, all of the buildings are from Montana, and many have been moved here to be apart of the “town”. They also have a 1928 steam engine that used to run back and forth between Virginia City and Nevada City. Sadly it needs major repair work to be able to operate again, but it was fun nonetheless to look at it. Sheila had fun with the saloon doors.
Virginia is the “living city” of the two towns. Located just a few more miles down the road, Virginia City has a main street that they have maintained in the style similar to Nevada City. They have an opera house, old style candy shoppe, coin operated arcade games (or what they called arcade games in the early 1900’s!), museums, trade shops, and much more. Just outside of main street the town has moved into this century with houses and more recent buildings.
Continuing on our journey, we drove through rather alien territory. The surrounding fields had been thoroughly dug through for rubies back in the mid 1900’s. They had giant machines that basically turned the hills inside out in search of treasures. 50+ years later there are alder groves growing in the middle of this overturned and dumped earth. Sadly although I took a picture, my camera apparently didn’t save it so I can’t show what I mean. But hopefully when I am back in the area I’ll snap a few more photos. We drove by some pretty mountains on the way.
We finished our day at Norris Hot Springs. I had only gone to the local Boulder Hot Springs, which while is has cool architecture, is in some bad need of repair. Norris is pretty much bare bones, with a large outdoor soaking pool, and not much in the form of buildings. But it was much cleaner than Boulder’s and a much better atmosphere (would much rather be soaking outside anyway where the humidity doesn’t smother you). On weekends they also have live music and you can order food made from local ingredients and drink local wine and beer. It was a great end to an awesome day, and I can’t wait to go back there.