July 9 Thursday

Great Falls MT to Havre MT
(Missouri River)

Get Bent
© 1998 by Glenn Elert
All Rights Reserved -- Fair Use Encouraged

 
Distances (miles)
Day 118
Total 951
Speeds (mph)
Average 11.3
Maximum 42.0
Expenses ($ US)
Lodging 26.00 
Went to check out the Milwaukee Road station. It's an office building now housing McDonald's local headquarters among other things. A fitting tribute to post-industrial America. Great Falls looks like a Rust Belt city transported to the high plains. The Burlington Northern Railroad is everywhere and there's an out-of-place looking oil refinery on the edge of town. I didn't see any great falls here although the map shows a Rainbow Falls on the edge of town. No time to check it out. photo
Once the town ends, it's back to the middle of nowhere and fast. Massive grain fields for miles and miles. There's a small mountain range on the eastern horizon. The land is nicely flat and I am making adequate time, but I have a long way to go. Between Great Falls and Havre there is only one major town (Fort Benton) and maybe three smaller ones. The road parallels the Missouri River, which is surrounded by the White Cliffs. The highway gets close enough at one spot for a scenic overlook. The Missouri bends back and forth between 100-foot bluffs.
  The town of Fort Benton is off of the highway, but it's the only place for services after 42 miles so I head on in. The road into town skirts the edge of a bluff and drops very rapidly, which is where I hit my maximum speed for the day. The best part was the single lane pass under the railroad tracks. The bike handles well and I can shoot through the narrow opening without braking. Fort Benton is the original city of Montana. Steamboats used to cruise up the Missouri to a point where the river shallows out making it the furthest inland port in the United States. Now there is very little here. The highway and railroad run atop the cliffs. It's a long hot climb to get out on the bike.
Riverboat Art by James E. Trott
  Not much to speak of after that. Endless wheat fields and range land. No trees. The only shade is behind the numerous grain elevators, many of which look abandoned. I pass the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation. There is different small mountain range to the east now: Bear's Paw. A really, really, really long day. About 11 hours of cycling. Temperatures have been in the low 90s for most of the day. I am bitten by the occasional mosquito. Tuning the radio, I find a station called "The Mix". How original. What would E.L.O. do without small town radio?  
  I reach Havre at about 8:00 PM. Not enough time to do anything but bathe, eat, and sleep. The Burlington Northern is actually the Burlington Northern Santa Fe. Havre is in a valley with the town on one side and a railroad yard on the other. It looks like there is no "bad side of the tracks" in this town. Everything is on the south side of the yard.
 
   

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