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!

Montana Lodging
Montana Restaurants & Dining
Montana Adventure/Recreation
Montana Attractions
Montana Shopping

In This Issue:

Feature: Discover Montana’s Capital City
Bannack State Park
Helena Trivia
Recipes: Spinach Dip with Round Bread; Aunt Blanche’s Cranberry Salad
Featured Books
Featured Montana Products

Discover Montana’s Capital City
By Kristin Hill

Like many cities throughout Montana history, Helena owes its founding to the mining industry. Unlike most of these settlements, however, Helena’s fate wasn’t destined for the silent shadows of a ghost town. Millionaires flocked to the new city situated in the heart of Montana’s mining district, and abundant silver and lead lodes continued to lure a mining population when the gold boom fizzled. Within just a few years of its founding, Helena had brushed off its rough and tumble beginning, replacing it with honor and distinction as Montana’s capital city and a major trade center of the west. Today, Helena retains its aura of political, economic, and cultural significance, and as always, welcomes Montana residents and visitors alike with open arms. Discover for yourself just a few of the noteworthy attractions making Helena such a crowning capital city!

Montana State Capitol Building and Grounds
No visit to the state capital would be complete without a stop at the Capitol. Initially dedicated on July 4, 1902, expanded between 1909 and 1912, and once again renovated in 2001 to a tune of $26 million, the State Capitol Building features a neo-classical Greek Ionic design. Sandstone and granite from across Montana grace the building’s exterior, while the interior art and architecture intertwine images of the past with visions for the future. Complementing the building’s stately stature are fifty acres of professionally designed grounds and flower gardens. The Montana Historical Society offers free tours daily.

Kleffner Ranch
Located in East Helena, the Kleffner Ranch commemorates life in Gold West Country as it was in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The working ranch’s octagonal stone house and three-story timber barn are recognized as the largest in America, and visitors are treated to a tour laced with interesting historical anecdotes.

Montana Historical Society Museum
Covering more than 12,000 years of history, the Montana Historical Society Museum is not only the Treasure State’s largest museum, but also boasts the world’s largest collection of books and magazines about Montana. Artifacts of all kinds mingle with masterful works of art to interpret the longstanding history of Montana’s inhabitants and breathtaking landscapes.

Holter Museum of Art
Local, national, and international artists are celebrated at the Holter Museum of Art. Founded in 1987, the museum features two exhibition galleries packed with the finest in contemporary art. A museum shop is also located onsite, showcasing ceramics, prints, fibers, woodwork, jewelry, and more. The museum is open year-round.

Mount Helena City Park
The 800-acre Mount Helena City Park rises 1,300 feet above Last Chance Gulch to provide stunning views of the Helena landscape. Inside the park, miles of hiking trails, wildlife, and limestone cliffs create the perfect setting for a day of outdoor fun.

Cathedral of Saint Helena
Vienna’s Votive Church and Germany’s Cologne Cathedral served as the inspiration for this notable downtown Helena architectural landmark. The cathedral features majestic twin spires, twenty-one marble replicas of scientists and statesman, and forty-six dazzling stained glass windows.

Reeder’s Alley
When the mining camp of Last Chance Gulch was established, resident Lewis Reeder constructed a series of one-room brick shanties to house the city’s expanding population of bachelors. His project quickly became known as Reeder’s Alley, and today, the cobblestone street retains the same name along with many of its original buildings. Most of the shanties date back to the 1860s, while all serve as testimony to Helena’s gold rush history.

Last Chance Gulch
When gold was discovered in Last Chance Gulch on July 14, 1864, the history of Helena began. Today, the city’s downtown area is Montana’s only outdoor walking mall and is a testament to life in the gulch. Bronze statues of miners, a restored streetcar, a mural of Montana women, and a frontier log children’s play area stand underneath the shadow of uniquely designed buildings dating back as early as the 1880s. Walking tour maps of the gulch are available at the Helena Chamber of Commerce.

Old Fire Tower
Erected in 1876 on a hill overlooking Last Chance Gulch, the Old Fire Tower is Helena’s city symbol. The tower, nicknamed “Guardian of the Gulch,” was manned round the clock to serve as the first warning of impending fire. Although the tower is no longer used, it remains a city icon and is noted as one of only five such fire towers remaining in the U.S.

Back to Top

Bannack State Park
Located 5 miles S. of Dillon on I-15, then 21 miles W. on Secondary 278, then 4 miles S. on county road * Phone: (406) 843-3413

Reprinted from Bannack State Park brochure.

Bannack was the site of the state’s first big gold strike in 1862 and the birthplace of Montana’s government. Gold was discovered in Grasshopper Creek on July 28, 1862. This strike set off a massive gold rush that swelled Bannack’s population to over 3,000 by 1863. The remnants of over 60 buildings show the extent of development reached during the town’s zenith. When the gold ran out, the town died.

Montana’s first territorial capital, was the site of many “firsts” in the state’s history. Bannack had the first jail, hotel, chartered Masonic Lodge, hard rock mine, electric gold dredge, quartz stamp mill, and commercial sawmill. Bannack’s two jails, built from hand-hewn logs, tell the story of the lawlessness that terrorized Grasshopper Gulch and the road to Virginia City. Road Agent’s Rock, just a few miles from Bannack, was the lookout point for an organized gang of road agents, toughs, robbers, and murders. The infamous sheriff of Bannack, Henry Plummer, was secretly the leader of this gang called “The Innocents.” The gang is said to have murdered over 102 men and robbed countless others during the eight months that Plummer served as sheriff. Many of their escapades were planned in Skinner’s Saloon, which still stands in Bannack today. It could not last. Bannack’s law-abiding citizens rose up and organized a vigilance group. In conjunction with a similar group in Virginia City, they quickly hunted down 28 of the “Innocents,” including Henry Plummer, and hanged them on the gallows Plummer had just built.

“The Toughest Town in The West” soon grew quiet due to the reign of the vigilantes and a population of transient gold seekers that left to follow better gold strikes. However, gold mining activity continued for many years. The reputation of Bannack lives on today in Western history and fiction, forming the basis of many Western novels and movies. Many actors in the drama of early-day Bannack went on to play key roles in Montana history. The mines and placer diggings are quiet now, but the streets of Bannack still echo with the footsteps of those who seek the rich lode of Western history that Bannack hoards like the gold once hidden in its hills and creeks. Over 50 buildings remain at Bannack today, each one with a story to tell…from tumble-down, one-room bachelor cabins to the once-stately Hotel Meade. The diggin’s are quiet now, but the streets still ring with the footsteps of those seeking the rich lode of Western history that Bannack hoards like the gold once hidden in its hills…a moment in time for modern-day visitors to discover and enjoy.
Walk the deserted streets of Bannack, and discover for yourself the way the West really was. Bannack is one of the best preserved of all of Montana’s ghost towns. Bannack is unique…preserved rather than restored…protected rather than exploited.

Back to Top

Helena Trivia Q & A
From “Montana Trivia” by Janet Spencer, Riverbend Publishing

Click here to order Montana Trivia book

Helena Trivia
From "Montana Trivia" by Janet Spencer, Riverbend Publishing

Q. What percent of the Montana population lives within a 250-mile radius of the capital city of Helena?
A. Seventy percent.

Q. Where in Helena would you find the bell that is rung once per year, at precisely 10:40 a.m. on November 8?
A. At the state capitol– the Montana Statehood Centennial Bell commemorates the moment President Harrison signed the proclamation making Montana a state.

Q. How many earthquakes rattled Helena in the fall and winter of 1935, including two that caused widespread damage and killed four people?
A. Over 1,200 - including one of magnitude 6.3 and another of 6.0.

Q. In the 1880s Helena had more millionaires per capita than any other town in the U.S. How many millionaires lived there?
A. Fifty.

Q. What percentage of full-time jobs in Helena are related to running the state government?
A. Twenty-five percent.

From “Montana Trivia” by Janet Spencer, published by Riverbend Publishing
Click here to order
Montana Quizzes available free to any publication, contact

Back to Top

Thanksgiving Recipes

From The Yellowstone National Park Cookbook

Click here to order "The Yellowstone National Park Cookbook" or view other Gift Corral Books

While this Yellowstone cookbook contains an interview of a chef and several of his recipes, it also offers dishes from such well-known park personas as the wolf project leader, a park ranger, and many others. Some recipes are pulled from inherited family cookbooks, and some come with special directions for doctoring according to personal taste. Featuring an eclectic mix of represented styles and cultures, this unique cookbook guarantees you'll find something delicious to make and someone interesting to meet on every page.

By Barbara Forbes Rinker

It’s that time of year again where holiday parties abound, and friends and family gather together to celebrate the season. This year, add something new to your traditional holiday menus. Former 1950’s summer park employee, Barbara Rinker, has nothing but fond memories of her Yellowstone days, and her recipe for Spinach Dip with Round Bread is sure to be a memorable appetizer to the main dish. Looking for a new take on Thanksgiving cranberries? Don’t miss Barbara’s Cranberry Salad, our bonus recipe to you in preparation for the big feast!

8 oz. softened cream cheese
16 oz. sour cream
1 package Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch Dressing mix, dry
1 small package chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1 loaf round bread

Mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, and ranch dressing mix. Remove excess water from the thawed spinach by patting dry with paper towels. Add spinach to the dip.

Cut the center from a loaf of round bread, and put dip in loaf. Use the cut-out center (cubed) or vegetables for dipping.

By Barbara Forbes Rinker

2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup seedless grapes
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 pint whipped cream or Cool Whip

Grind cranberries with meat grinder; add sugar. Let rest overnight in the refrigerator. The following morning, halve the grapes; add them and nuts to the drained cranberries. Gently fold in the whipped cream.

Back to Top

Featured Montana Products

Bearfoots Welcome Sign
Click here for price and order information and to view more Gift Corral products
What a way to welcome loved ones! Montana artist Jeff Fleming designed this special sign for Big Sky Carvers. Perfect inside or out, the sign measures 8-3/8” long, 1-3/4” wide, and 7” tall.
Christmas Wine Charms
From Big Sky Carvers
Click here for price and order information and to view more Gift Corral products
Help your party guests distinguish their glass from others with the aid of these holiday wine charms. Featuring a different design on each of the six charms, this Big Sky Carvers’ set includes images of a snowman, angel, Christmas tree, sleigh, candy cane, and snowflake. Each charm: 1-1/8” diameter, 1-1/16” wide. On sale now just in time for the holidays!

Big Sky Carvers Wine Stopper
By Big Sky Carvers

Click here for price and order information and to view more Gift Corral products

A functional bear from Big Sky Carvers, this wine bottle stopper is sure to be a hit at any holiday party! Designed by Montana artist Jeff Fleming, this stopper measures 2” long, 1” wide, and 3” tall.

Back to Top

Featured Montana Books

We've included a few books about the state that you might enjoy. These selections are also published locally in Montana as well.

Big Sky Politics: Campaigns and Elections in Modern Montana
By Jon Bennion

Big Sky Politics is an overdue, detailed account of post-war politics in Montana. Starting with the break-up of the New Deal coalition in 1946 and ending with the most recent off-year election in 2002, Big Sky Politics lays out each general election for president, governor, U.S. Senate and Congress with well-researched commentary. Each summary has a detailed map showing which candidate each county supported. Photos, graphs, and certified election results complete the picture and bring each political contest to life. The author, Jon Bennion, is a native of Montana, born and raised in Billings. He has worked on compaigns at both the state and local levels. He is currently pursuing a law degree at the University of Montana in Missoula.
Wellington Rankin: His Family, Life and Time
By Volney Steele

This is the only published biography of this remarkable man. Rankin helped shape much of 20th Century Montana history. His famous sister, Jeannette Rankin, would have never been elected to Congress without his astute political savvy. During his time, Rankin was the largest private landowner in the United States, owning over one million acres in Montana. He was a flambouyant attorney who was involved in many landmark legal cases and a defender of the little guy. Rankin was a private man and left behind few records. What he left behind were sealed by the family and stored in the Montana Historical Society archives. The author spent over ten years researching court records, news articles, and interviewing family, friends, and contemporaries of the man to piece together the story of this fascinating character. A must read for Montana history buffs! is the skeleton wrangler still saddling horses at Roosevelt Lodge?
The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia 4th Edition
by Michael and Heidi Dougherty
Click here for price and order information and to view more Gift Corral books

Special clearance price on 2nd Edition. Click here.

Even the most famous explorers relied on a knowledgeable guide. And nowhere will you find a more knowledgeable guide than The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia. It would require almost a dozen of the top guidebooks on Montana to find the information contained in this single volume—and you still wouldn’t have everything that is in this book!

114 maps — 52 maps of towns and cities — Over 2,000 Restaurants — Over 700 Motels — More than 350 public campgrounds — More than 250 private campgrounds — 96 Forest Service cabins — Over 200 guest ranches and resorts — Over 200 bed and breakfasts — Over 250 vacation homes and cabins — Over 450 outfitters and guides — 130 airports — More than 225 fishing sites — Over 160 Lewis & Clark points of interest — 71 public golf courses — Over 300 museums and historical sites — The text of over 300 historical markers — More than 25 hot springs — Over 300 hikes — Over 100 Cross-Country Ski Trails — Over 65 scenic drives and sidetrips — More than 50 ghost towns — 31 downhill and cross-country ski areas — Over 650 gas stops — More than 400 attractions — More than 1,000 photographs — Weather information for over 40 locations — Information on over 300 cities and towns — 1,000s of things to do in Montana — 1,000s of addresses and phone numbers …and more!

584 pages. 8 1/2 x 11”. Softbound.


Free Montana Vacation Information and Montana Real Estate Information

Ultimate Montana is pleased to offer you two new services.

  1. Planning a trip for your family vacation? Use the Ultimate Press brochure rack to select and have the latest FREE vacation and travel brochures, vacation guides, maps and travel planning kits mailed to you free of charge. These free vacation brochures are what the traveler needs to plan a vacation. Vacations are more fun with the latest brochures in hand. Why spend hours surfing the web when you can make a one stop shop here. Click here for free vacation information.

  2. If you're serious about finding property in Montana, why spend hours surfing the web for information and come up empty, when you can complete the simple form below and get all the information you need? Let us do the work for you!

    We partner with top real estate pros throughout the state to give you a one-stop resource for Montana real estate including listing guides, relocation information, market trends, finance information and more. Whether it’s a single family home in Bozeman or trophy home in Big Sky; lakeside property in the Flathead area or fly fishing property in Livingston; your own private Montana ranch or a sleepy mountain cabin, we can get you the information you need to find the dream property you seek. And you can tailor your request to receive only the information that is relevant to your search. Click here for free Montana real estate Information.

Back to Top

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