Thursday, April 29, 2010

"May in Montana" from Guest Contributor Diane Lockard

  FISK EXPEDITION - 1864        
      Cold and rainy, even though it is May in Montana. I forgot about that when I returned home to Saco, Montana for my class reunion. “It was snowing coming over the mountains.” Stayed overnight in Butte on our way from SLC, UT.
      We stood on the edge of Bell Coulee in northeastern Montana and gazed at the tracks of wagons on the opposite side, envisioning heavy wagons rumbling across the land. Glenn said they came up from the Missouri River and crossed what was to be my grandparent’s homestead. The wagon master’s last name was Fisk…

      I researched the Internet and discovered a report written by Captain James Fisk, Assistant Quartermaster. 5,000 copies were printed for the Senate. He was commissioned by the Secretary of War to lead a wagon train with emigrants and supplies from Minnesota across the northern plains.

August 3 – Passing herds of buffaloes… – they looked like swarms of flies. “Certainly, over one million were in sight during the day.”
      Part of the trip was from Fort Union on the border of North Dakota and Montana to Fort Benton (47 degrees 49’ 10’ N) and the “great falls.” 
Passed into hills and coule’s; “Plenty of grass and a cold spring rises in an adjacent coule’.” – Aug 6, 1864*
      “We gathered black currants, cherries, and raspberries in this coule’.” “Road was over a rolling prairie and our course was a little north of west to avoid a promontory of the Coteau du Missouri, Missouri Plateau” - Aug 7, 1864
Fort Union Trading Post – Wikipedia
“It is a good plan to fill all spare casks with water before starting in the morning.” 
Wood Mountains, Aug. 10… Traveling through the mountains, 
Aug. 14…Frenchman’s Fork of Milk River
Aug.22… (Grandparents’ homestead was north of the river)  The river bed is about one hundred and fifty feet wide, and is nearly dry… 
“48 degrees 46’ 7’”, Milk River and Little Rockies (Zortman/Malta), “We discovered a practicable road for wagons”, Aug.23
Aug.26 – Left camp at 7AM - Abandoned a large government wagon here, as the load, consisting mostly of commissary supplies could now be packed in other wagons. I explained to our “Gros Venatre” friends that they do not touch the wagons; and that white men were coming for it. I do not believe they will disturb anything; they seemed to understand me.  Next day, there are Indians in camp. Meet the first white men and arrive in Virginia City, the new name for Stinking Water… – Sept. 3 Fort Benton on the north bank of the near great falls… American Fur Co. fort – “Sold at auction our heavy wagons, tents, stores, etc. The escort was disbanded at this time, but twenty will accompany me to the mountains with the stock; shall dispose of at Bannock City or Walla-Walla, WA.” – Sept. 7
Returned via Salt Lake City
*Expedition Of Captain Fisk To The Rocky Mountains (1864) by James Liberty Fisk (Paperback - Sept. 24, 2009)

-Diane Lockard, Guest Contributor -

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Learning Science in Montana

On Friday my son Patrick and I visited ExplorationWorks in Helena, MT while Catherine was seeking new books for us to match with readers. ExplorationWorks is an interactive science museum, full of fun, hands-on displays for kids and adults alike. The science-buff I am, I enjoy these places immensely. Here are a few photos from our enjoyable afternoon:

You can see more photos here. We got in free because we have a family membership to another accredited science museum. The Association of Science and Technology Centers has a program that extends membership to hundreds of participating museums nationwide. Not a bad deal at all!

Montana is home to a few other science museums other than ExplorationWorks. In Bozeman, there is the Museum of the Rockies, known worldwide for its paleontology collections, while Missoula has spectrUM. Butte will soon have its own later in 2010, called ScienceMine.

Two recent books have been published that look at science education in informal learning environments (museums, zoos, aquaria, gardens, etc.). Having other places to learn and engage with science are a great way to supplement public education. Here are those two books, plus a few resources for teaching kids about evolution:


Michael @ Reading in Montana