Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pride of the Hi-Line


...more than you ever wanted to know about Havre, Montana...

While derived from the French, the easy way to remember the prononciation, from the Great Falls rent a car dude, is the story of the pioneers looking down into the Milk River valley and commenting, "you can have her...".

And what was I doing 50 miles from the Canadian border in the March winter weather?  Well, a secret mission for the government...

Anyway, Havre is an interesting little town defined by two major attributes...  farming and the railroad.


James J. Hill built the Burlington Northern railroad at the top of the United States, known as the Hi-Line.  We won't get into the labor exploitation of this task, but he was quite proud of his accomplishment.


(And, since the Burlington Northern merged with the Sante Fe, theoretically the railroad is now both the Hi-Line and the Lo-Line, as the Sante Fe winds through the Southwest...  but that's another story).

I'm not sure why the railroad has such a big presence in Havre...  there once was a spur south to Great Falls, but that seems just flat car storage at this point.  Havre does have a big switching yard, and a diesel repair shop, and lots of all night action.  I'm sure they load up lots of grain at harvest time, but mostly the railroad pulls zillions of containers (full of flat screens from China!) probably from the ports of Seattle to points in the midwest.  So a bunch of railroad and grain photos:








And lots of damn great big farm implements...


Havre lies in the West-East Milk River valley (the Milk River will eventually feed into the Missouri as it winds into North Dakota).  The whole area is mostly high plateau flat lands, filled with wheat fields.  One feature that lies just south of Havre is the Bear Paw Mountains (home of the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation).  


And North of Havre, stretching into Canada and beyond, is the rolling hills wheat fields...  into oblivion, it seems.  This is not the Montana of National Parks and big peaks and thick forests...


And from days past...


And if you think there's not much happening in Havre (and, I guess there really isn't, other than a casino of sorts in every bar), you can get a great steak dinner, with a couple glasses of excellent Bogle Phantom Red, for $40! 


Very nice little restaurant, and great, friendly service.  A reason to return to Havre.  Maybe sometime I'll drive another Hi-Line, US 2, across Montana and North Dakota and stop for another steak.

Havre is a 120 mile drive north of Great Falls.  The drive back on US 87 passed Fort Benton, and just beyond, a great view of the mighty Missouri River, which extends north from Yellowstone until it bends east to North Dakota.  How would you like that little farm and wheat field at the bend of the river?





In Great Falls, waiting for a plane, I found more railroad past, the Milwaukee Station from GF historical past.


And we will end as all great trips end, at a bar...  found in downtown Great Falls.


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