Cool Things to See and Do in Toole County MT
Sherrie Murphy says, visit us in Toole County Montana and have Cool Time!

Nov
12

Gary Sulenes - Toole County driver with bus

Toole County Transit began operations in March of 2008.  Toole County Transit has coordinated with Northern Transit Interlocal and Glacier County Transit to provide transportation to Conrad, Great Falls and/or Cut Bank on a Monday and Thursday basis.   Shelby residents can also hop on the bus for a city ride both Monday and Thursday between the hours of  8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.  We will get you where you need to go – save gas and ride the bus!  Toole County Transit provides round-trip service to the Port of Sweetgrass, Canadian Border.  The bus is donation-based and handicapped accessible.  For more information on this bus service, please phone 406-470-0727.  Information is also available on the Toole County website, located at http://toolecountymt.gov .  Photograph and information courtesy of Deb Brandon, Toole County Development.

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Nov
12

The 2011 Marias Museum Calendar is available for $12.00 at the museum, Chamber of Commerce, Fieldstone Gallery, and the Creative Needle.  All proceeds from the sale of the calendar benefit the Marias Museum.  The 2011 calendar has incredibly beautiful pictures of the Sweet Grass Hills taken during all seasons!  The Marias Museum has calendars each year that are filled with gorgeous photographs of Toole County.  Dean Hellinger is the photographer who contributes his pictures for the calendar.  Support our wonderful Museum by purchasing this great calendar.

Nov
12

Shelby Floral is an FTD florist and gift shop.  It has two levels full of unique gifts, cards, balloons, gorgeous Big Sky Silver jewelry, fresh flowers, and beautiful silk flowers.  There is a great consignment store in the basement.  It’s a great place to browse, and you can spend quite a bit of time looking at all that is available in the store.  My favorite part of the store, though, isn’t the huge selection of gifts, but the wonderful smell of fresh flowers when I walk in the door.  The flower shop is located at 157 Main Street in Shelby.

Nov
12

January 23, 1870 at dawn, in 30 degree below zero weather, a slaughter took place at the hands of Major Eugene Baker and his Second Regiment Cavalry.  This carnage was at the ‘Big Bend’ on the Marias River in Toole County.  The catalyst of the massacre was the murder of a well-known, rancher, Malcolm Clarke.   He and his Blackfeet Indian wife, Cothco-co-na, ranched near Wolf Creek.   Clarke was murdered by his wife’s cousin Pete Owl Child.
Major Baker and his men traveled north for the sole purpose of finding Owl Child.  The Calvary approached on the bluffs overlooking the camp, and fired into the Blackfeet Piegan Encampment.   The violent attack left 173 dead Piegans, but the Blackfeet say 217 lives were lost.  The site of the Baker Massacre is almost due south of Dunkirk.  Turn South on South Dunkirk road from Highway 2, and follow the road for 4 miles; turn east on Dobyn’s Road; turn south on Robinson Road (.5 miles), and travel approximately 2 miles on Robertson Road.  You will cross a cattle guard, and will see a retired combine on the west side of the road.  Directly after the combine the road will curve to the west, and there will also be a narrow two-track road that travels south.  Look south and you will see where the encampment was located at the base of the bluffs .  The attached photograph, courtesy of Dean Hellinger, shows the actual massacre site from the northwest.

For more information you can read ‘The Massacre on The Marias’ in the book Montana Campfire Tales.   http://blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blogs/intelligenttravel/2009/09/a-forgotten-incident-in-montan.html For Witness to Carnage go to http://www.dickshovel.com/parts2.html

Nov
11

One phenomena of our geography in Toole County, is the Sweet Grass Hills.  Each of the three main buttes, West, Middle (Gold) and East Butte is an individual mountain range.  The Buttes are igneous intrusions (magma deep inside the earth is pushed up toward the surface, and it becomes rock as it cools).  The igneous rocks were formed about 50 million years ago, give or take a year or two.  The igneous rock is surrounded by sedimentary rock, and grass is abundant. The distance from the west end of West Butte, to the east end of East Butte, is approximately 50 miles.  The Hills are approximately 10 miles from north to south.  West and Middle Buttes are in Toole County, with West Butte being the highest of all the buttes. The Hills have been mined for coal, copper and gold, which continues today.  The buttes also have special spiritual significance to the Blackfeet Indians.  Sweet Grass Hills information has already been included in the Cool Things, and there will be many more by the time all 365 are posted.  For more information about Igneous Intrusions go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igneous_intrusion; and to see more pictures of the Sweet Grass Hills go to http://www.bigskyfishing.com/Montana-Info/Hi-Line/sweetgrass-hills-pictures.shtm

Nov
11

I mentioned the Toole County Library in past Cool Things, and I suppose it’s about time I mention the library itself.  The library has books, audio books, videos and much more to borrow.  Heidi and the girls are very gracious, always willing to help, and are great sources of information.
There are four available computers with the internet for your use, but you might want to reserve a computer, because they tend to be in high demand.  The library has ever-changing hours – Monday 1:00 to 5:00 and 7:00 to 9:00 P.M.; Tuesday 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. and 7:00 to 9:00 P.M.; Wednesday and Thursday 1:00 to 5:00 and 7:00 to 9:00 P.M.; Friday 10:00 A.M. to noon, and 1:00 to 5:00 P.M.  Saturday hours are from 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M.   Story hour is at 10:00 A.M. on Fridays during the school year, and it is delightful to listen to the volunteers read books, and make all the appropriate noises, for the preschool children.  Some books at the library are no longer in print, especially the priceless books involving Toole County history.  Be sure to care for your borrowed books and return them on time, or a penalty will come out of your pocket!  The library is located at 229 2nd Avenue South in Shelby.

Nov
11

Fieldstone Art Gallery, Shelby Glass and Office Supply is a locally owned business, that has grown to meet our community’s needs since 1988.  The business was previously located on Front Street, but a recently constructed building on Main Street expanded the business.  The new building was elaborately designed inside, as well as outside, and has a very relaxed atmosphere when you walk in the door.
This building provides three distinct, essential services for our community:
The glass shop can help you with your home, business or automobile glass needs; the gallery has greeting cards and gifts for every event and everyone.  You can always treat yourself to the aesthetic gifts including art, pottery, bronzes and Made in Montana products, or get your art framed; and finally, the office supply business is well-stocked with quality office supplies for your home and office.   The website for the gallery at 140 Main Street in Shelby. http://www.fieldstonegallerymt.com/ Be sure to shop locally and support our community businesses!

Nov
09

The Marias Museum of History and Art is located at 206 12th Avenue North (12th Avenue and 1st Street North) in Shelby.  Mrs. Strannie Fulton’s son, William, Jr, deeded her home to Toole County for this museum.  Museum relics and keepsakes include Indian artifacts, dinosaur bones, toys, military, railroad and oil industry, depression era, wagons, Dempsey-Gibbons Championship Fight, and many other exhibits.  Separate rooms are dedicated to displays that include blacksmith, dentist office, barbershop, store, school room and more.
This museum has so much packed inside, that it will likely take several trips for you to really see all the precious exhibits.
The museum is open September through May on Tuesdays, from 1:00 to 4:00 P.M.  During the tourist season, June through August, it is open Monday through Friday, 1:00 to 5:00 P.M.and 7:00 to 9:00 P.M.; and on Saturdays from 1:00 to 4:00 P.M.
Personnel at the museum are very helpful, familiar with the area, and tremendously knowledgeable!
Admission is free, although I encourage you to leave a donation.

http://slowtrigger.com/mariasmuseum.htm has posted several pictures from the Marias Museum.

Nov
09

When you are traveling on Interstate 15, and take exit 379, you will find the Four Corners Bar.  East of the interstate is Oilmont and just west of the interstate, you will find wonderful people and great food.  Prime Rib is served every Wednesday night, the broasted chicken (pictured) is “delishimo”, and the food is always excellent.  The bar/restaurant is a busy place, but the service is great!   There are poker machines in the bar, if you’re the betting kind.  Next time you need something to eat, or want a hot coffee or a cold beer, you can’t go wrong stopping at the Four Corners Bar.

Nov
09

I heard about the pie at Last Chance Cafe in Sunburst long before I even knew the restaurant existed.  I went to the Last Chance Cafe mid-afternoon, but they were out of pie, so you need to get there before everyone else does!  Dottie Aschim Moss made the apple pie I finally tasted, and it was absolutely delicious, as expected.  Mrs. Moss was raised in the stone house in Cool Thing #6, and learned to make pie from her mother.  The fresh pie is always excellent, and is made by several different ladies.  Shelby senior citizens board a bus, and travel to the Last Chance Cafe to treat themselves to the homemade pie.
The Last Chance Cafe is a co-op and it is a busy place in this small northern Toole County town.  This is a home-town cafe, with great meals and very friendly people working there.  The cafe is at the intersection of Main Street and Railroad Avenue in Sunburst.  For more information go to  http://www.greatfallstribune.com/article/20101015/BUSINESS/10150339/Co-op-successes-include-Sunburst-cafe

Nov
09

The Toole County Courthouse is located at 226 1st Street South, one block south of Main Street in Shelby.  The courthouse was built in 1934 and, like all buildings of that era, it has a lot of character.  The grounds, flowers and the rock walls are beautiful.  There is plenty of parking in the front of the courthouse; you will have a bit of a climb to get into the building, but the bonus is that it’s all downhill on the way back to your car.  There is limited parking in the back, but it has a ramp for anyone who needs it.  You can take care of most of your government errands at the courthouse, including registering your vehicle, appearing in court, registering to vote, visiting county extension agents and county commissioners, and paying your taxes.  If they can’t help you, they will surely direct you to the right place.  You can find a list of government services and phone numbers at: http://toolecountymt.gov/county%20addresses.html

Nov
09

This little building is the infrastructure for a mouth-watering, palate-pleasing local business!  TLC Catering makes the best prime rib I’ve tasted, and the prime rib is just the tip of the iceberg.  TLC is very accommodating, but also very busy, so you need to plan in advance if you want  to ensure that TLC is available to help you.  Everyone in Toole County knows that they can rely on TLC to provide a great meal for their event.  TLC Catering provides meals for family reunions, business luncheons or dinners, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, or any event you need!  TLC Catering was recommended to me when I first moved to Shelby several years ago, and I’ve never been disappointed.  They made a box lunch for a class I was teaching, and I picked up the meal and transported it an hour away for the class.  The students raved about the sandwiches and the meal. The food is always appealing to the eyes, and sense of smell, but the very best is what it does for the taste buds!  TLC is easy on the checkbook, too.  For more information, check out their website at  http://www.3rivers.net/~rlybbert/

Nov
09

The construction of NaturEner Glacier Wind Farm started in spring of 2008 and the wind farm went online in 2009.  Glacier Wind Farm uses the wind energy from the Rocky Mountains to create power.  One hundred (100) of the wind farm’s 140 turbines are in Toole County.  Each turbine is 250 feet tall, so the wind farm can be seen from as far away as Interstate 15.  The wind farm is located just south of Ethridge on U.S. Highway 2.  Northwestern Energy owns the transmission lines that will transport the energy, and the energy is being sold to San Diego Gas and Electric.  NaturEner is planning on building Rim Rock Wind Farm on the Kevin Rims, and this wind farm will be the largest wind farm (206 turbines) in Montana.  The State of Montana is ranked fifth in the nation for wind energy potential.  Go to http://vimeo.com/7596236 to watch video from helicam (remote helicopter).  The beautiful photograph is courtesy of my awesome neighbor and fellow Notre Dame fan, Tim Moylan.

Nov
09

South of the Border is a nice home-town cafe that is festively decorated and has a friendly atmosphere.  The waitress is sweet and hardworking, and makes your dining experience relaxing.  You will always be served a hot, sumptuous Mexican meal that beats anything I’ve tasted in Mexico!  They don’t serve alcohol, but you can walk into the next room (the Alibi) and get a cold beer or margarita to take back to your table.  South of the Border is located at 233 Main Street in Shelby.

Nov
09

I don’t remember having so much fun at a meal, as when I had lunch at the Senior Center in Shelby!  Great meals at great prices – $4.00 for anyone over 60 years of age, and $4.50 for anyone under 60 years of age, but the very best part is the company!  The food really is much better than I make at home, and lunch is served every Monday through Friday. There is one exception on the fourth Tuesday of the month, when dinner ($5.00) is served instead of lunch.
The card game Pitch is played each Wednesday, and I was invited to play because there were not enough Pitch players.  I felt a little sorry for my partners, but everyone was such a good sport and was patient with this Pitch rookie.  Needless to say, I donated $2.00 of my hard-earned money.  I encourage you to go and visit with these wonderful people!   Be sure to call ahead (434-2992) to let them know to set an extra place.

Nov
09

The Marias Valley Golf & Country Club is at least the fourth golf course in Toole County.  The current golf course, opened for business in 1969, is very scenic, partly because of it’s location on the Marias River.  The Marias Valley Golf Course was rated by the Montana PGA as the best nine-hole golf course in the State.  An additional nine holes were added and available for play in 1995, and the course is now considered as one of the top 18 hole courses in the State.  Golfers come from all over Montana and Canada to play this phenomenal course.
High quality golf tournaments include the Marias Valley Sizzler, a 2-day scramble on the second weekend in August; and the Oilfield Tournament, which attracts some of the State’s best golfers each Fathers Day Weekend.  The Oilfield Tournament is the oldest tournament in Montana.  For more information about this beautiful golf course, check out the website at MVGCC.com

Nov
09

Cool Thing #31 is hard to miss.  You can see the forest for quite a distance on the west side of Devon Road.  It may not be the biggest forest I’ve visited, but it is definitely the most entertaining!   The sign approaching the forest from the south notes “Entering North Devon Forest” and there is a sign that indicates you are “Leaving North Devon Forest”.   Turn north on Devon Road from U.S. Highway 2 at mile marker 297.6 and travel one mile north to the North Devon Forest.

Nov
09

Any kind of Championship Fight was unheard of in a small community, until local businessmen brought the Dempsey-Gibbons World Heavyweight Championship Fight to Shelby.  The fight was held on July 4, 1923 and is an event that remains alive in Toole County History.  Jack Dempsey’s manager, Jack Kearns, was a bit of a shady character and he caused the fight to be an on-again, off-again event.  Money was paid up front to Kearns, and he and Dempsey were guaranteed a purse, but Kearns’ lack of commitment, along with money that didn’t seem to be forthcoming, caused the fight probability to be unreliable.  Kearns even managed to con the tax men out of tax money, when they came to the fight to collect taxes.

Most Toole County residents could not afford the tickets to attend the fight, but that didn’t stop them from crashing the gates and watching the 15 round fight.  Tommy Gibbons was not well known, but he certainly fought a good fight, and the fans were treated to a full 15 rounds, ending in a win for Dempsey.  The fight was a financial catastrophe for Shelby and four banks went bankrupt within months after the fight.  This was a critical time when the homesteaders were trying to keep their land, and the oil business was booming in northern Toole County.

I encourage you to purchase the dvd, Ringside Shelby. It is an excellent, 57-minute documentary about the Jack Dempsey/Tommy Gibbons World Heavyweight Championship Fight.  I bought mine at the Visitor Center in Shelby (Cool Thing #3), but it is also available at several local businesses.

Video clip from YouTube

Nov
09

Six local Vietnam Veterans wanted to honor Montana veterans and the result of their efforts is breathtaking.  The Veteran’s Memorial Flag is a 30 X 50 foot American Flag that is raised on a 100 foot pole on a knoll at the southwest end of Shelby, just east of Interstate 15.  Toole County residents and businesses donated their land, time, machinery, electrical power, legal services and money to make this goal come alive in 2005.  This U.S. Flag takes two to three minutes to raise or lower, and it can be seen coming into Shelby from all directions.  Six additional flags representing the branches of our military and POW/MIA fly on shorter poles on the military related holidays.  The American Flag takes a beating from the prevailing westerly winds, and those occasional north and northeastern winds that grace our community.  The flag is a powerful reminder for us to honor and thank the men and women who fight and have fought for our freedom.

Nov
09

The Mint Bar in Sunburst is a business with tremendous character!  The building was constructed in the late 1930s as a Lutheran Church, and was used until the new Lutheran Church was built.  The original Mint Bar burned down, and the bar’s owners purchased the empty church, and moved it to its current location as the new Mint Bar in 1979.  Some members of the Lutheran congregation were not too excited about the church being used as a bar initially, but a good-natured member recently called it the Lutheran lounge.
On one occasion, a previous owner believed nobody was listening to her, so she found a way to get her husband’s and the patrons’ attention and left several bullet holes in the ceiling as a result.  The bar has a ‘Burn Your Own Steak Night’ on Fridays, and a rib-eye steak, baked potato and roll are provided for a great price.  You grill your own steak on the barbecue the way you like it.  Ask Dee Dee about the historic church bar’s fun Ten Commandments.  Mint Bar of Sunburst website.