About an hour out of the way, between Missoula and Butte, is Anaconda, Montana. The town was founded when the Anaconda Copper Mining Company in Butte built a smelter in Anaconda for refining its copper ore. The smelting operation was shut down in 1980, but the smokestack still stands. It is 585 feet high and is the tallest freestanding masonry structure in the world. I only drove through the city. My impression was of a tidy place with plenty of historic architecture and that smokestack jutting up like a Titan Missile.
Montana Highway One was a pleasant break from Interstate 90. Farms and pastures filled the valley.
Along with that copper–colored rhino were
The switchbacks up into Deerlodge National Forest gave some remarkable views of the geology.
But what made me do a cartoon double-take and a u-turn in the middle of the rural road was the sight of a life-sized metal rhinoceros.
a steel bear,
and a wooly mammoth. These and other metallic creatures adorned the yard of the Ohrmann Museum. The figures outside were produced by a retired rancher with his welding torch. Inside were his oil paintings and bronze sculptures. My week away was over. I was left to marvel about the human passion for creativity from the arts to architecture, agriculture, engineering and just making use of whatever was at hand. At home I found all was well. The paintings and photographs I had left with instructions to be entered in our county fair netted --
a third place over all and two peoples’ choice awards. Pardon me while I have a little Sally Fields moment. “You like me! You really like me!”
(total miles--1,850 (2977km)--mpg 31.5 --love that Subaru)