Saturday, August 11, 2001

Hello from Culbertson, Montana!

Start time:  0900

Start odometer: 6999

Weather: Beautiful sunny day

In western Montana on Route 2, Culbertson is a small community based on agriculture.  There is an airport just up the road which has a 3000+ foot  paved runway.  I spent some time talking with the gentleman at the front desk of the inn about airplanes, as he is an avid flyer of private planes including a Cessna 172 and his favorite, a 1941 Taylorcraft tail dragger.  I am not sure of the type of aircraft, but he has much fun flying it.

After a bit of a sleep in, breakfast at the motel, a stop for gas, and a trip to the grocery store, I finally got on the road.  My main intention was to continue my westward journey and position myself to head into Canada, and ultimately, the Alaska Highway.  There were several parks that were fairly close, but I knew I had to prioritize my time and forego a visit today.  Knowing I will be back in the near future made it easy.  However, there was one park that was on the way to Montana, so I decided to visit it today.

Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, (also see this link) part of the Department of Interior, is a historically accurate rebuilt fort that was originally constructed and used by the American Fur Company from 1828 - 1866.  They did much fur trading with many of the local Indian tribes.  When first entering the fort, you see the trading room, where you meet a costumed gentleman Richard, a local college history instructor, who works in the summer at this site.  He was extremely informative, and I learned very much about the fort, the people, and the lives they led.  One neat item in the trading room was that though all the buildings in the fort were destroyed, some of the foundations remained.  In this particular room, the fireplace and floor stones were from the original structure.  I stood on those stones, thinking about others that stood on the same floor many years ago!  

I continued my tour of the fort, and met a couple working on a teepee and related Indian items, and a cabin used by the hunters.  Judith and Bruce were very interesting people to speak with, as they were living very much a natural type of life as the original fort occupants led.  We discussed many topics, ranging from the historical aspects of the fort to how people interact with one another today.  It was great to have such a diverse and memorable conversation with them.  They also provided today's book recommendation.  Finally, there dog, which was at the fort, was a Samoyed - Lab mix, and he looked just like the Samoyed I had while growing up!  

One of the main reasons I enjoy this type of travel is to learn about the people and history of different regions, and about people in general.  Richard, Judith, and Bruce made this a great day!

After preparing lunch in the car (more sandwiches,) I proceeded back to Route 2, stopping at a general store in Trenton.  I met several very nice ladies, part of a group of ten that were sitting around a table talking with one another.  I thought it was nice when the store owner mentioned that it is like this, with different people coming in and out throughout the day...Small town America!  Back on the road, I headed west, crossing into Montana and the Mountain time zone.  My final visit for the day was at the Culbertson Museum, where I was given a guided tour of the MANY artifacts they have collected over the eleven years the museum has been opened.  The guide was very informative, and was also able to answer my questions about some of the farming scenes and procedures I have been seeing during my trip.  She mentioned that this area is going to have a good harvest, and they were very pleased about it.  

It was getting late in the afternoon, so I decided to stay in this town.  Tonight I had dinner at the Stagecoach Bar and Grill, and Casino.  The beef was great, and my two dollars spent at the casino lasted ten minutes!  I actually was up over 150% ($5.00,) but lost it all!  Not much guts for gambling here, as I never walk out richer at the end of the evening!

One bit of trivia about the name "Culbertson"...It was the last name of Bud and Betsy, the couple trying to buy Andy and Elizabeth Farmer's house in the movie "Funny Farm."

Click on picture for larger image, hit back button to return to this page.

This picture is taken along the path from the car to the fort.  Looking back at the parking area, you will note that it is in Montana.  This makes my tenth and eleventh time zone crossing!  This is also a new state for this trip, my eleventh state!

This is the entrance to Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site.  The small opening to the left of the main entrance was used to trade with tribes that were not as friendly as others, which were allowed in the fort.

This panel describes the front gate of the fort.

This was the storage room by the front gate.  The lighted area to the right is the opening seen next to the front gate.

This room was used as a meeting room for all the tribes and the head of the treading company.

This picture was taken inside the fort, looking east.  The interior part of the front gate can be seen on the right.

From the same position, looking north.

The fort blacksmith.

A teepee inside the fort.  Bruce and Judith can be seen in the picture.

Many ways of the time were demonstrated.

These are items that would typically be found in the fort and with the Indians.

The main house of the fort.

Standing in the  northeast corner of the fort, looking southwest.

Part of the kitchen area behind the main house.

One more look at the house from one of the walks along the top of the fort.

Looking south at the Missouri River.

A corner of the fort.

The fort from the parking area.  This is also in Montana again, which means another time zone change, my twelfth!

One last look at the fort.

The entrance sign to the fort.

Back into Montana, and the Mountain Time Zone, my thirteenth zone change!

The Culbertson Museum.

An old gas pump and blacksmith shop, part of the museum.

An old firetruck.

Many old farm vehicles were on display.

I thought this bike for train tracks was interesting.  Never saw one of these before!

This caboose was donated to the museum several years ago.  What they did not know when they received it was that prior to the contribution, someone had been staying in it.  They left several interesting or unique writings!  Sorry, no pictures were legible.

This sign describes the rail car in the following picture.

An interesting oil cart.

A 1908 washer!

Old wagons on display at the museum.



Thanks for visiting the site!


Recommended Reading (from Judith and Bruce) - The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom: A Toltec Wisdom Book -- by Miguel Ruiz

Routes traveled today: US 2 - ND 1804 - US 2

Hotel: The King's Inn -

Gas: $1.559 (Williston, ND)


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Copyright 2001 Igor N. Nikishin

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