Montana was the first state in the US to have historical highway markers and now we have over 220! Be sure to stop and see them when visiting or traveling Montana! They make the trip more about the travel than just the destination. There is a book of all of the markers in the state available here. The markers pictured below are on Highway 12 between Helena and Missoula and the will definitely brightened up the drive. Another way to enjoy these makers even more is to use your mobile device to search additional information about names and places on the markers. Often these markers mention names and places but don’t tell much about them. The new world of electronics can help solve some of those historic mysteries. A top the continental divide on MacDonald Pass west of Helena you will find the story of the Frenchwoman’s Road. The short story is well worth the stop and a few minutes of your time. There is also a short spot for Cromwell Dixon who was the first aviator in America to fly over the Continental Divide.
As you descend the west side of MacDonald pass and reach the bottom you will find more Montana history telling the story of Mullan Road. This road stretched 624 miles and dates back to 1859. Another great history lesson that will certainly enhance a trip between Helena and Missoula.
The cool part of the hay stack history lesson is that you can see these hay stacks and the hay stacker called a “beaver slide” in the fields as you drive the Blackfoot Valley today. In the summertime if you are lucky and pass through while the farmers are cutting and stacking hay you could see the “beaver slide” at work. Along with all that the trip along the Little Blackfoot River with the trains and whatever wildlife you might see makes for an entertaining drive to Missoula or Helena depending on what direction you travel. Keep an eye on the cotton wood trees along the river as we almost always see Bald Eagles on the trip.
We have added the history marker for telling the story of the Flathead Indian Reservation. This marker is on the edge of the National Bison Range between Ravalli and Dixon on Highway 382. Highway 382 intersects with Highway 93 north of Missoula on the way to Kalispell. The bison range is shown in another post for Wildlife Refuges.