Helena, MT High 91 Low 53 (two days ago)
The next couple of posts are going to be a tour of Helena for those of you who have never visited this capitol city.
Helena was accidently founded by four men, all from Georgia, and known in the history books as the “Four Georgians”. These four men, rather desperate after searching throughout western Montana for gold and finding nothing, stumbled into the area that is now Helena. That night, on July 14th, 1864, the men decided to take one last chance in mining the nearby creek. As luck and fate would have it, the men found gold that evening. They named the stream they found the gold in, appropriately enough, Last Chance Gulch.
Pioneer Cabin: Built in 1865 by miner Wilson Butts. Now owned by the State of Montana and managed by the Montana Heritage Commission.
Word soon got out about the gold strike and, seemingly overnight, Helena became a boomtown. In just a few short years, several hundred businesses had opened up shop in Helena and more than 3000 people called Helena home.
Initially, the new town had the less-than-inspiring name of Crabtown, named after one of the four Georgians who found gold. Soon, though, other names were bounced around, including Pumpkinville and Squashtown. However, many of the miners were from Minnesota. These miners soon began to call the town after another town in Minnesota, called Saint Helena. This name was soon shortened to Helena.
Last Chance Gulch walking mall
Helena became the territorial capitol in 1875. Last Chance Gulch remained the main street in Helena even though the capitol building was built about a mile to the west. Today, you can drive (one way) down part of the Gulch and then it turns into a walking mall.
Reeder’s Alley is the oldest intact piece of early Helena. It was built in the 1870’s by a Pennsylvania brick and stone mason named Louis Reeder. He made his money, not by mining for gold, but by building and investing in land. He built small tenements and bunk houses that catered to single miners.
Morelli Bridge (Reeder’s Alley)
The Stone House (Reeder’s Alley)
Some of Helena’s more famous residents:
Gary Cooper was born and raised in Helena.
Myrna Loy was also born and raised near Helena in Radarsburg, MT.
Charlie Pride spent a lot of his youth here and played baseball for the Helena Brewers, a semi-pro team. He also worked at the smelter and performed at a night club two nights a week.
Not every city can claim an entire mountain as a city park, but Mount Helena City Park is 5,468 feet above sea level and is 620 acres, making it the second largest city park in the United Stats. For all you hikers out there, there are six different hiking trails to the top.
The Sleeping Giant of the Helena Valley. Seven miles of ridgeline hiking routes offer spectacular panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains.
Next post I want to show you some of the buildings in downtown Helena.
Sandie, you and my son, Michael, would get along famously. No matter where he goes, he remembers the history and comes back with the most interesting facts.ReplyDelete
I took the trolley tour when in Helena. The capitol building was impressive, but I was amazed that the Governor's home was as ordinary as all other homes.
By the way, I had a boss who was born and raised in Helena. :)
As always, your blog and pictures are very enjoyable.
It's all thru your eyes, cause I've never been in Helena and you can teach me everything.... Who knows, I might be up some day....ReplyDelete
I think Helena is my favorite small town, probably running neck and neck with Asheville, NC.ReplyDelete
Great job with the tour.ReplyDelete
When our daughter, Carrie, was there, she loved that town. She too told us all about the history. She hiked many of the trails one weekend. Great place for sure.
That was a really nice tour! I have a good soil friend who lives there and he loves the city, but I haven't visited since I lived in Northern Idaho 15 years ago. Nice to see it through your eyes.ReplyDelete
I'll have to add Helena to my list of places to visit. I would like to do some of those hikes and walk through some parts of town.ReplyDelete
Nice history lesson and tour. I think this is a town I might enjoy visiting. There is just something about Montana and Wyoming that intrigues me.ReplyDelete
Beautiful town with so much history. Enjoyed the post and pictures.ReplyDelete
Interesting tour of Helena. Thanks for sharing. I was surprised how hot it was though.ReplyDelete
I never knew any of that about Helena, maybe Mike does?? Thanks, very interesting!ReplyDelete
We used to enjoy visiting Helena when we lived 60 miles south in Butte. We were there again a couple of years ago to attend some friends' 60th wedding anniversary. But you have seen some parts of Helena we never saw in all the years we visited. Thanks for that. We look forward to the next installment.ReplyDelete
Thanks for a wonderful tour and history lesson about Helena! Great pics to go with it too. Next time we visit Helena, I'll have a lot more to see and do.ReplyDelete
Hope to visit soon and now I know what to look for. Thanks girlfriend.ReplyDelete
Will be reading these posts carefully as we passed on a visit there and will have to tour through your blog:)ReplyDelete
Very good informative post! Love it.ReplyDelete
Helena is now a must seeReplyDelete