Custom Search
: Montana Vacation Directory
: Montana Communities
: Montana Real Estate
: Montana Relocation Directory
: Search Site
: Photo Gallery
: Montana Maps
: Newsletter Archives
: Montana Weather
: Contact Us
: Yellowstone National Park
: Glacier National Park
: Wyoming!
: Idaho!

In This Issue:

    Virginia City & Nevada City: An Entertaining Visit to Montana’s Past

    By Kristin E. Hill

    The Vigilante Barn

    If you think the Old West lives on only in Hollywood movies and history books, think again. In southwest Montana, the state’s legendary past is still kicking up its heels in the historic towns of Virginia City and Nevada City. Founded in the early 1860s as a rush of gold seekers flocked to the area in search of riches, Virginia City and Nevada City touted a population of over 30,000 people by 1865 while becoming the state’s epicenter for intrigue and vigilante justice. Today, these remarkably well-preserved Victorian gold mining towns invite you to discover their colorful past along with an array of entertainment sure to be the highlight of any trip to Montana’s Yellowstone region!

    The face of Montana mining history changed forever on May 26th, 1863, when six down and out prospectors from nearby Bannack set up camp on a small creek in the Tobacco Root Mountains. Hoping to find even a trace of gold, the miners soon discovered they had unearthed the mother lode. Within hours of setting up camp, the six lucky miners had found more than $12.30 in gold, and in a matter of days, word was out across the west that “Alder Gulch” was the best place to find fortune in Montana Territory. Virginia City sprang up overnight, and within just a year, more than 10,000 people called the area home, bringing with them plenty of corruption and general mayhem. Within three years of that fateful May discovery, Alder Gulch had produced more than $30 million in gold and is still recognized as the nation’s largest discovery of placer gold with a total yield of over $130 million.

    Today, Virginia City with its 150 year-round residents is distinguished as one of the most well-preserved gold mining boomtowns from the 1860s. More than 100 historic buildings still stand in their original locations, and many of the wooden boardwalks on Main Street are the same as those the Montana Vigilante Movement patrolled over 130 years ago. Just outside town, Boot Hill Cemetery is an ever-present reminder of the town’s violent past as Territorial Capital and home of the notorious Henry Plummer gang.

    Just 1.5 miles down the road, Nevada City sprang to life at the same time as Virginia City and served primarily as a key trading point in the Alder Gulch area. Now regarded as one of Montana’s best-preserved ghost towns and serving as a backdrop in several Hollywood westerns, Nevada City boasts fourteen original historic buildings along with a collection of 100 other mining-era buildings gathered from across the state.

    While Virginia City and Nevada City are open to the public year-round, the best time of year to truly experience these unforgettable Victorian era towns is Memorial Day through early September. Many of the unique businesses operating on Virginia City’s historic Main Street are open only during the summer and Christmas season, and entertainment of all kinds is abundant throughout the busy summer travel season.

    Begin your visit to the area with a train ride between Virginia City and Nevada City on a historic Baldwin steam locomotive or the gas-powered C.A. Bovey train. During your tour of Nevada City, check out the world’s largest music machine collection at the Nevada City Music Hall, complete with historic music machines, gaviolis, and player pianos. Living History Weekends feature individuals in historic period dress demonstrating old world techniques and leading insightful discussions about the area’s history. And of course, no Victorian era region would be complete without High Tea and a Grand Ball!

    If a train ride isn’t your cup of tea, then perhaps a stagecoach tour, a 1941 fire engine tour, or a guided walking tour of Virginia City will grab your attention. Of course, for all you do-it-yourselfers, self-guided tour brochures are available at numerous businesses throughout the area, and historical placards are adhered to many of the town’s buildings for a quick history lesson.

    For a bit of lighthearted family entertainment guaranteed to make you laugh, be sure to include a 19th century melodrama on your to-do list, courtesy of the renowned Virginia City Players at the historic Opera House. Those planning a late afternoon or early evening visit to Virginia City sans children should definitely reserve a seat at the Gilbert Brewery’s Brewery Follies or the daily comedy show.

    While all of the above entertainment occurs regularly, it is by no means all that Virginia City and Nevada City have to offer. Live nightly musical entertainment, weekend music festivals, ghost walks, microbrew festivals, moonlit train rides, art shows, poker rides, outdoor recreation events, and more couple with unique dining and historic lodging options to create a one-of-a-kind Montana experience. Visit for a complete listing of current summer events. 

    Earthquake Lake

    Excerpted from “The Ultimate Montana Atlas & Travel Encyclopedia”

    A severe earthquake caused a massive landslide on August 17, 1959 at 11:37 p.m. Several faults in the Madison River area moved at the same time causing an earthquake that triggered a massive landslide.

    The slide moved at 100 mph and happened in less than one minute. Over 80 million tons of rock crashed into the narrow canyon, burying an open meadow where some campers had stopped for the night.

    The landslide completely blocked the Madison River and caused it to form Earthquake Lake. The force of the slide displaced both the air in the canyon and water of the Madison River. It created high velocity winds and a wall of water that swept through the area, just downstream from the slide, killing five people in its path.

    Earthquake at Hebgen Lake
    The Hebgen Lake Earthquake measured 7.5 on the Richter scale. At least three blocks of the earth’s crust suddenly dropped as two faults moved simultaneously… the Red Canyon fault and the Hebgen Lake fault.

    The north shore of Hebgen Lake dropped 19 feet and cabins fell into the water. Hebgen Lake sloshed back and forth. Huge waves called seiches crested over Hebgen Dam. This earth filled dam cracked in at least four places, but held. Three sections of Highway 287 fell into the lake. Hundreds of campers were trapped.

    28 people lost their lives as a result of the earthquake. Their names appear on a bronze plaque on one of the massive dolomite boulders carried across the canyon by the slide. The dolomite boulder serves as a memorial.

    Madison River Canyon Earthquake Area
    This immense earthquake’s impact shocked and chilled the world. Families gradually rebuilt their lives, structures and roads were reconstructed.

    In 1960, a 38,000 acre area in the canyon was designated as the “Madison River Canyon Earthquake Area.” This portion of the Gallatin National Forest is of great scientific and general interest.

    As you travel through this area, the effects of the ever-changing earth can be seen all around you.

    The Visitor Center is located on Highway 287, 17 miles west of Highway 191, and 25 miles to the town of West Yellowstone, Montana.

    This facility is accessible to people with disabilities.

    Open: Memorial Day - late September, 7 days a week, 8:30 - 6:00 p.m. Telephone: 646-7369 (V/TDD)

    Reprinted from National Park Service Brochure

    Montana Gold Trivia

    From “Montana Trivia” by Janet Spencer, Riverbend Publishing

    Click here for price and order information and to view more Ultimate Press products

    Q. Where was the first major gold strike in Montana on July 29, 1862?

    A. Grasshopper Creek, resulting in the city of Bannack, the first territorial capital.

    Q.  When six prospectors dipped their gold pans in Alder Creek in 1863, leading to one of history’s richest placer gold discoveries, how much gold were they hoping to find?

    A. Enough to pay for their tobacco.

    Q. The $10 million worth of gold taken out of Alder Creek, which runs through Virginia City and Nevada City, would be worth how much in today’s value?

    A. $2.5 billion.

    Q.  At what place did twenty miners pan 700 pounds of gold from a two-acre claim in a single day?

    A. Confederate Gulch southeast of Helena.

    Q.  How does the state rank in production of gold today?

    A. Fifth, after Nevada, California, Alaska, and South Dakota.

    Back to top

    Recipe from:
    Cooking Backyard to Backcountry

    By John Rittel & Lori Rittel, M.S.,R.D., Riverbend Publishing

    Click here for price and order information and to view more Ultimate Press products

    While growing up on their Rocky Mountain family ranch, John Rittel and his sister Lori spent more time in the great outdoors than indoors. As a result, not only did they develop an affinity for recreating outside, but also for cooking outside over an open fire. Through the years, this brother and sister duo have perfected the art of outdoor cooking, turning routine meal preparation into a unique and entertaining experience perfect for sharing with friends and family. Featuring a variety of outdoor cooking techniques ranging from the backyard grill to the Dutch oven to fire pits in the wilderness, the cookbook includes a wide assortment of recipes and all the cooking tips you need to create a memorable and delicious outdoor feast.

    GRILLED CORN ON THE COB (1-2 Servings per Cob)
    Take advantage of summer fresh produce with this flavorful and easy recipe! The shucks protect the corn from the intense heat, keeping the kernels moist and tender while the corn cooks in its own steam. Buy corn on the cob with shucks intact. For a delicious variation, try rubbing

    fresh lime wedges on the cooked corn and sprinkling it with red pepper instead of the standard butter, salt, and pepper. Outstanding!

    fresh sweet corn on the cob in husks
    salt and pepper to taste

    1. Gently pull back the husks but don’t remove from stalk.
    2. Remove the silks and cut off the tip of the corn.
    3. Re-wrap the husks over the ears of corn.
    4. Place corn with the shucks on in cold water and soak for 1 hour.
    5. Place corn, shucks and all, on a hot grill 6-8 inches from the coals and grill for 30-40 minutes.
    6. Rotate periodically during grilling.
    7. Serve with softened butter, salt and pepper.

    Back to top

    Featured Books

    Where Did Dinosaurs Come From

    By John Bonnett Wexo

    Click here for price and order information and to view more Ultimate Press products

    There are many books that show you what dinosaurs looked like and how they behaved, but “Where Did Dinosaurs Come From” by Zoobooks creator John Bonnett Wexo is the only simple book that will tell you how dinosaurs got to be the way they were.

    For example, why did some dinosaurs grow to be the biggest animals that have ever lived on land? Why did some dinosaurs walk on two legs and others on four legs? Why were some dinosaurs covered from head to tail with heavy armor? Why did T. Rex have a mouth that could swallow 500 pounds in a single bite?

    Where Did Dinosaurs Come From answers those questions and hundreds of others by telling the fascinating story of a great “arms race” that began with some of the earliest creatures on earth—a race for survival that actually forced dinosaurs (and other animals) to get bigger, to run faster, to develop elaborate suits of armor, and to have some of the most dangerous teeth to ever exist on earth.

    The book is easy to read and loaded with eye-popping paintings by John Sibbick, the premier dinosaur artist in the world. The vivid but realistic colors, the intricately imagined shapes and textures, and the dramatic poses make the illustrations some of the finest dinosaur art ever published.

    John Wexo is widely known as the creator and author of Zoobooks, the phenomenally best-selling series of children’s natural history books. To date, more than 140 million copies of Zoobooks have been distributed in the United States and around the world. To write this book, Wexo spent years conferring with paleontologists and studying the latest scientific research.

    Where Did Dinosaurs Come From (Riverbend Publishing) is a large-sized, 32-page hardcover that sells for $12.95. It is especially recommended for 9-12 year olds.

    The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia - Yellowstone Gateway Edition

    by Michael Dougherty, Heidi Pfeil-Dougherty and Kristin Hill

    Click here for price and order information and to view more Ultimate Press products

    Brand new! Now Shipping! The newest offering from Ultimate Press covers the Yellowstone Gateway Region from Red Lodge to Virginia City. Now in full color, the book exceeds the reputation of Ultimate Press for providing the most comprehensive books available on areas in the Northern Rockies. The book has 184 color pages packed with maps, photos, history, attractions, dining, lodging, camping, fishing, hikes, scenic drives, and more. It also contains a complete guide (50+ pages) to touring Yellowstone National Park. Over 72 maps including highway, town and city, demographic, tours, ski areas, camping and fishing, and more. But rather than waste space telling you about the incredible amount of content in the book, visit the Ultimate Press bookstore and order a copy for yourself today or download the entire book for free!

    Includes complete guide to Yellowstone National Park — Complete information on the Montana gateway area from Virginia City to Red Lodge — 73 maps: highway, city and town, tours, specialty — All restaurants — All Motels — All public campgrounds — All private campgrounds — All Forest Service cabins — Travel and relocation information — Airports — Fishery information — Lewis & Clark points of interest — Public golf courses — Museums and historical sites — Historical information — Hot springs — Hikes — Cross-Country Ski Trails — Downhill ski area information — Scenic drives and sidetrips — Ghost towns — Attractions — Adventure — Hundreds of photographs — Weather information — Information on all cities and towns — Directory of schools, churches, government offices, municipal offices, businesses and more!

    Back to top

    Home | Free Brochures | Bookstore | Visit Montana | Live in Montana | Montana Communities | Search
    Copyright © 2010 New Times Media Corporation - All Rights Reserved