Montana is Big Sky Country and the views reflect that nickname. We saw a variety of them in the last few days.
Traveling from Bannack towards Butte we viewed two roadside Montana State Parks, both marking historical sites. The first was Clark’s Lookout – think Lewis and Clark.
An easy walk up a short trail takes you to this large granite monument depicting the spot where William Clark stood as he viewed the landscape and took three compass readings. He gathered coordinates in preparation for making maps when the Corps of Discovery expedition was completed.
A few miles down the highway we viewed Beaverhead Rock. This formation, resembling a beaver’s head while swimming, was the landmark Sacagawea recognized when traveling with the Corps of Discovery. Seeing it, she knew they were close to the Shoshone lands that had been her childhood home.
Our home for the next few days is an RV park with a view! We are in the middle of a wide valley with mountains around us. We even have cows that wander by once in a while.
Yesterday’s sunrise was so beautiful that Elko and I sat outside curled up in a blanket with the remains of a Starbucks Mocha. Since he didn’t want the blanket, and didn’t have the mocha, Elko wasn’t too impressed and went back inside. I thought it was lovely. Cold, but lovely.
Also lovely, is a large white statue up on the mountain. We noticed it when we traveled through Butte in a mad dash last summer and hoped that someday we would come back and see what it was all about. That someday was yesterday!
The story of the statue began with a man’s concern for his ill wife and his promise to build a monument to Mary, Mother of Jesus, if his wife survived. It took this man and his friends, and eventually many in the community of Butte to give “donations of time, money, land, equipment, manpower and a wealth of love and faith…” to build the 90 foot statue, Our Lady of the Rockies.
The story is really quite inspiring. Many of the men who held onto this dream for six years were unemployed miners. The welder who became the sculptor had never done anything like it before, even on a small scale. After the road was widened and a site prepared, the six large sections of the steel statue were individually helicoptered onto the site and layered one atop the other. The section with the hands barely averted catastrophe.
Completed as a tribute to all mothers, Our Lady of the Rockies sits on the continental divide, at 8510 feet, and overlooks the town of Butte.
We got a chuckle over our 70ish bus-driver/tour guide who knew just the right vantage point (lying down) to get her tourists and the Lady of the Rockies in the view finder.
Tours, tributes and memorials help support the Lady of the Rockies. A chapel for special events has been built and a tram to go up and down the mountain is planned.
We have one more southwest Montana big sky view to close out this blog post. Still from the Lady of the Rockies site – this one is just looking the other way!