Sunday, August 30, 2020

Here We Go Round The Lake

 Canyon Ferry, MT   High 92  Low 62

Off we go to drive around the lake with a couple of detours along the way. Leaving the campground we took a left on Highway 287 towards Townsend. Another left at the stop sign in Townsend onto Highway 12. This is a picture of the main street in Townsend.

About two miles east of Townsend you make another left on Highway 284. 

Our first stop was at St. Joseph's Catholic Church which was built in 1875-1876.  Paid for with community donations and built by ninety volunteer lay laborers, the church was dedicated on October 22, 1876. It is the state’s oldest standing Roman Catholic church not built by a religious order. After World War II, federal officials planned to upgrade Canyon Ferry Dam and raise the reservoir. The church was in the raised water area and in 1952, St. Joseph’s was moved two and a half miles to this location before water swallowed the land. 



The Church was closed while we were there so I took this picture of the interior from their website.


This is the view from the front of the Church. You can see Canyon Ferry Lake in the distance.


More Montana scenes along our way.

Confederate Gulch and Diamond City

Our next detour had us looking for Diamond City, another ghost town up Confederate Gulch. 



Gold was first discovered at the gulch by former confederate soldiers in 1864. When the Civil War ended the government issued an amnesty to all former confederate soldiers in Arkansas if they went west by the Missouri River. Some of these soldiers heard of gold discoveries in Montana and decided to try their luck there. They discovered placer gold in a gulch located near the Big Belt Mountains. This later became known as Confederate Gulch.



 For a time, Confederate Gulch was the largest community in Montana. In 1866, Montana had a total population of 28,000, and of these, about 10,000 were working in Confederate Gulch.


During its heyday, Diamond City roared both night and day. By 1870, the gold supply at Confederate Gulch had been exhausted, the boom was over and the residents of Diamond City simply picked up and left.  Today hardly a trace remains of Diamond City. 

We had to ford the creek a couple of times.


We never did find Diamond City and the road was really rough so we finally turned around and went back down to the highway. 

The northern end of Canyon Ferry Lake is much more mountainous than the south end. It seems to be the more popular part of the lake full of sailboats and water toys. 

Canyon Ferry Dam is a concrete gravity dam on the Missouri River. 



After taking a couple more left turns, you are back on Highway 287/12 which takes you back to our campground. 

Townsend also has an airport which is just outside our RV park. It is a really busy place some days with small planes and helicopters. It is also used as a training site for forest fires as well as water rescue.

A really beautiful day for a drive.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Jim's Projects

Canyon Ferry, MT   High 96  Low 63

When Jim is not out fishing, we need to find him things to do to keep him out of trouble.

Cleaning the fish he's caught.


Fixing  broken windows


Defrosting the fridge.


Installing a new black tank vent cover


And the most important one of all. Changing out a burnt power connection


The Lord was watching over us. This could have easily started a fire that would have destroyed the trailer.


The new connections. 


Then right in the middle of fixing dinner, the microwave died.

                Removing the old


Trying to fix the old one. Not happening.             


The new one. Of course we couldn't find one that would fit in the space we had, so Jim had to modify the cabinet to make the new microwave fit.

In his spare time, I drag him off looking for ghost towns. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

So Long Good Buddy

 Canyon Ferry, MT

We got the sad news today that Jim's best fishing buddy, Marv Hall, died today. We met Marv and Donna at our RV park in Apache Junction and when Marv saw that Jim had a boat, his eyes lit up. Marv did not know a stranger. It would take a couple of hours for him and Donna to walk around our park because Marv would visit with everybody. 
You are going to be missed. 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Moose Creek Campground


My last post on the War Dogs was so long I decided to show you Moose Creek Campground in a separate post.  Moose Creek Campground is located on the road to Rimini and is a National Forest campground.


The campground has 9 campsites for tents, trailers and RVs (26 feet maximum - some of the sites can only handle a 15 foot maximum.). Each campsite has a table, fire ring and grate. The campground has drinking water and vault toilets.   There are also bears in the area, but no food storage lockers so keep your food out of site and in approved bear containers.


The road in or out is one lane. Not sure what happens if you meet up with another rig. Somebody had better be able to back exceptionally well. The road is also not in great shape. In other words, we would not take our Bungalow into this campground.

Some of the rigs are old and look like they have not been moved for a long time. Then there are others like the two above who are much newer and definitely more than the 15 foot length mentioned. The nightly fee is $15.00 but I'm pretty sure it is not enforced frequently. The surroundings are beautiful and there are lots of hiking trails in the area.

I was really happy to see that our forests have really recovered from the beetle infestation a few years ago. Most of the trees are green and healthy looking. That's how our forests should look.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Dogs of War and Road to Rimini

Canyon Ferry, MT   High 87  Low 63

I love visiting ghost towns and Jim doesn't mind doing the driving so we headed for Rimini, an old silver mining town about 13 miles west of Helena. It wasn't quite what I expected. Rimini has been discovered and lots of folks live there or have taken the old buildings and made them into summer homes. 




Rimini sits in the Ten Mile Creek Valley between Red Mountain to the east and Lee Mountain to the West.  Silver was found there in 1864 and people looking for riches started arriving. The town and the mining district were named for Francesca da Rimini, a character in the opera Dante’s Inferno, which was popular in Helena at the time.



By 1890, Rimini was home to about 300 people and included several hotels and stores; a school; saloons, gambling houses, and pool halls; livery stable; physician’s office; church; several boarding houses; and a sawmill. 

However, the boom did not last and with the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893 and the resulting low silver prices, many of the miners moved away.  By 1920, the town boasted only 20 residents. 





Dogs joined WW II when their owners volunteered them for the army's Dogs for Defense Program. This program set up five War Dog Training Centers in the United States. One of these centers was in Rimini. Rimini was chosen because of the long winters and deep snows. It was the perfect place to train officers and dogs in arctic rescue and survival techniques.

(All of the following pictures are from either the Billings Gazette or Helenair which are both newspapers here in Montana.) 


There were approximately 235 people working at the center training around 900 Huskies, Saint Bernards, Newfoundlands, Great Pyrenees and other hardy breeds. The first purpose of their training was to prepare the dogs to accompany the First Special Service Force - the Devil's Brigade - on a top secret mission into the mountains of Nazi-occupied Norway. When the military canceled that mission, the dogs switched jobs.


The dogs were then taught to rescue pilots who had crashed in remote regions of Alaska, Canada and Greenland. A few dogs learned to parachute out of airplanes (many got hurt) while others learned to pull sleds and carry packs full of supplies.

“There was a wonderful sense of satisfaction,” remembered Stuart Mace, one of the dog trainers. “We were privileged to be participating in a process of saving lives rather than taking them. In wartime this is a real privilege.” 


I found an article dated January 31, 2013 in the Independent Record (Helena's newspaper) that has a first hand account from Dave Armstrong. He arrived in Rimini from New England on February 5, 1943 with two others along with 40 dogs.

The soldiers developed sled systems that could carry 1,000 pounds or more of equipment for hundreds of miles. They developed a mount that could support a .30 caliber machine gun on a sled. The Army also developed parachute harnesses for dogs, along with sleds and mushers, could airlift where needed.

In Newfoundland, Armstrong's dogs lugged a sled full of radio equipment to the top of Table Mountain. The radio provided key communications in the war effort, and the dog teams made scores of missions. 

Yet - there is very little mention of these heroic dogs and their trainers in any museums. The Montana Military Museum at Fort Harrison in Helena now has a few items to tell the stories of these canine soldiers. (Because of Covid the museum is not open - maybe next year.) 

When Camp Rimini closed in 1945, the Army tried to give some away but the old war dogs didn't make good pets. Rescues like we have today who could rehabilitate the dogs were non-existent. So the dogs had to be put down. 

There is no marker or memorial in Rimini honoring these wonderful and brave animals and their trainers. Such a sad ending.  

If you would like to read more of the history of the Dogs for Defense please check out this site: