The Bair Family Museum–
As we continued our travels east on Montana’s route 12, we turned south on state road 294 to Martinsdale and went to the Charles Bair Family Museum. Located in rugged ranching country of rolling hills in central Montana, this museum is an unexpected oasis of luxury and culture. This very wealthy (he made his fortune in Alaska selling equipment during the gold rush) family with diverse tastes collected European furniture and works of art that are simply beautiful. The multiple art collections include both American and European pieces such as works by Cortes, Meakin, and Potthast as well a western art collection and many priceless pieces of Native American art and artifacts. The home they built is a jewel in the area but is not a castle and not extremely overdone. The docent tours are a mix of family information and information about and pictures of important people of Charles Bair’s time. He worked with, knew and occasionally entertained such folks as Will Rogers, Kit Carson, Tom Mix, Ronald Regan, etc. Because of it’s rather remote location, few folks visit this museum.
The parking at this museum is plentiful and free and the museum visit cost $6/person ($3/senior) and includes the well done docent tour by a person well versed in the area, family history, and works of art.
Driving through Montana is another visual treat. We were taken with Montana. Of course, the landscape is beautiful and visiting the small towns, seeing the ranches and farm, etc. immerses you in all things western and is quite enjoyable. We did talk with some farmers and there is a ongoing drought in Montana so the “hay crop” is down to almost half of its potential. We listened to the “hay” report on the radio. The “hay” report is just that, a report on all things hay.
Our docent at the Bair Family Museum was kind enough to point out a nearby Buffalo Jump. He taught school for many years in the Martinsdale area and so was knowledgeable about some of the features of the area. We had read about this method of hunting but never before went to such a site. Only about a mile from the museum was a somewhat nondescript hill that had been used as a Buffalo Jump by Indians. The hill had the requisite features of a buffalo jump; a run-up to a hill with a sudden precipice (unseen until you get to the edge). The Indians would stampede a herd of Buffalo to the jump and then some members of the tribe would be waiting below to complete the kill if necessary and harvest every part of the animal. All parts of the animal were used in some way by the Indians.
We spent the night in a small campground in the Gallatin National Forest. They have no hook-ups, of course. The nightly price is $9 but because we have a Senior Access Pass it was $4.50/night for us. We arrived around 9:00 pm and self registered. The sites are small but we were able to find a fairly level one that backed up to the forest and quickly fell asleep.
Posted using our Millenicom MiFi which seems to work most places. To find where it will work, we turn it on and watch it as we drive down the road. When the lights on it turn green, we know we are probably in an area with good connectivity.