Virgina City, Montana
No visit to the old west is complete without visiting a Ghost Town. So we picked Virginia How is it that a town in Montana is called Virgina City.....and another replica town a ways down the road called Nevada City what crazy mixed up thinking got names like that for Montana towns. I can hear the conversations on the phone with phone tech people in southeast Asia.... "No I said I live in Virginia City, in Montana and its right down the road from Nevada City. Yes, there is a Virginia City in Nevada but I'm in Montana."
Well here is the scoop according the Wikipedia....
A mining district was set up in order to formulate rules about individual gold claims. On June 16, 1863 under the name of "Verina" the township was formed a mile south of the gold fields. The name was intended to honor Varina Howell Davis, the first and only First Lady of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. Verina, although in Union territory, was founded by men whose loyalties were thoroughly Confederate. Upon registration of the name, a Connecticut judge, G. G. Bissell, objected to their choice and recorded it as Virginia City
Charles and Sue Bovey began buying the town, putting much needed maintenance into failing structures. The ghost town of Virginia City began to be restored for tourism in the 1950s. Most of the city is now owned by the state government and is a National Historic Landmark operated as an open-air museum.
Of the nearly three hundred structures in town, almost half were built prior to 1900. Buildings in their original condition with Old West period displays and information plaques stand next to thoroughly modern diners and other amenities.
Since Virgina City was so remote, there was not much in the way of law enforcement. between 1863 and 1864 there were approximately 10 deaths in the region by Road agents who murdered and stole from travelers in the region. this resulted in the formation of the Vigilance Committee of Alder Gulch and the infamous Montana Vigilantes who rounded up to 15 Road Agents who were then hanged.
Madison Canyon and Quake Lake
I first visited Yellowstone in 1960 just after the earthquake that shook the Northwest and caused a Mountain to fall killing 29 unsuspecting campers in the Madison Valley, a short distance to the West Yellowstone entrance. I always visit the Quake Lake area and revisit my memories of that first year when I saw the earth as they slowly scraped the surface of debris of what fell that horrifying night.
The mountain slid down into the canyon and covered a campground where 19 people were buried under 300 feet of ruble and rock.
The huge bolder lies where the mountain moved it during the darkness of night as a mighty tribute to the power of nature and the lives lost that night.
The Madison River has now formed a lake behind the rubble marking the entrance to the canyon.
Yellowstone is the place of some of my best childhood memories.
It was the place where I first discovered animals in the wild, so of course I wanted to expand Haileys view of animal life to include animals without bars. No zoo can truly allow our vision of their existence to expand showing life in the wild. Their behavior does change as they adapt to living among humans, however, it is a wonderful glimpse into their lives and habits.
I know seeing animals in the wild changed me forever....I hope it does Hailey too.
buffalo preparing for a dirt bath....
No bears this trip although throughout the park were signs that detailed the sightings and dates. We just were not lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to view them this trip.
We did see plenty of Elk....Our closeness was due to compliments of zoom lenses on the camera...
The natural archeological features of Yellowstone are truly remarkable and we could not miss the highlights. Pictures do not due justice to the actual witnessing these landscapes. They are simply stunning.
One disappointing observation in the landscape is the extensive fire damage from wildfires in recent years. There has always been wild fires in this vast wilderness and the toll is extensive. Recent years have been brutal and the scarring is seen everywhere. The vast thick forest are charred stubble with blackened toothpicks for tree trunks remaining. It is truly sad. But in its wake is also the rebirth as new life returns to the land.
Wildflower erupt in splendid glory as the first step to Forrest renewal. The debate as to when and if man intervenes in natures wildfires goes on. In the mean time we stand as witness to the alterations. I couldn't bring myself to take pictures of the miles and miles of charred Forrest. The process of renewal will be long but the beauty of Yellowstone remains.
While this was a whirlwind trip where we just just highlights of what this fabulous park has to offer...it is my hope that we will return many more times to enjoy the park in other less busy seasons when life moves in a slower and more natural pace.
I have been truly fortunate to live so close to Yellowstone that I have been able to enjoy its stunning beauty and magnificent variety of features. I enjoyed it as a child and have been able to share it with my children, many foster children and now with one of my grandchildren. I certainly hope to share it many more times with my other grandchildren as well.
It was summer.... It was hot.... there were lots of animals.... there were lots of people...... there was lots of traffic...... there were lots of traffic jams......