Thursday, July 23, 2009

I Don't Understand This Custer Thing

Wednesday we left South Dakota after a 39 degree morning and stopped for two nights in Garryowen, MT. Garryowen is an old Irish tune that was the marching song of the 7th Calvary. The whole town is on the National Historical Registry. That day it was 102 there! Yikes, I wanted the cool temperatures of the higher elevation again. Ted was coming down with a cold and wasn't feeling too great so we made a stop at Wal-Mart for some medicine. He was feeling some better the next day.

We camped right next to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument at 7th Ranch Campground and it had horses. Guess where my apples went that night?

The campground gave us a CD to use with the tour of the battlefield so we left early the next morning. First we watched a film and then set out with the CD directing our travels with info along the way. The battlefield is a large area of ravines and crevices along with small hills and valleys down to the river. The Indians knew the terrain and how to use it to their advantage and this played a big part in their victory. One Indian said "it was like a buffalo chase."

Now about George Armstrong Custer. I have learned he was last in his class at West Point, he was listed as AWOL at one point during the Civil War and at one time was court martialed and lost his rank for a year. Then he leads the worst defeat of U.S. troops in history ... and they make the guy out to be a hero. I don't get it.

Anyway ... there are markers scattered hither and yon where shallow graves have been uncovered. Some are bunched together and then you will see a solitary one in the distance. White markers are for the U.S. troops, brown ones are for the Indians though those have been placed much more recently. A beautiful farm is now in the valley along the Little Bighorn River. Only the markers acknowledge the terrible bloodshed that occurred here.

It was a resounding victory for the Indians but the beginning of the end of their way of life. The U.S. was going against the Laramie Treaty they had signed with the Indians by sending the 7th Calvary to round them up and force them on to reservations. Who can blame them for fighting back? The massacre at Wounded Knee, SD is thought to be retalitaion for what happened at Little Bighorn. Sort of the 7th Calvary's battle cry. However, Wounded Knee was a massacre not a battle.

There is a national cemetery here also but few of those buried had anything to do with the Little Bighorn battle.

We drove on to Hardin, MT to visit the Big Horn County Historical Museum. They had a picnic grove where we ate our lunch in the shade of some very big, old trees. They had such great buildings here that I never took any pictures. I was too busy reading about everything. They had the standard buildings but also had a cabin used until 1981, a slaughterhouse and meat market, the Camp Custer Motel (remember those small cabins on the sides of the roads way back when?), a farming corporation camp for the Campbell Farming Corporation that became the largest privately owned wheat farm. There was also a barn with a number of old vehicles, some restored, some not. There were two stagecoaches in amazing condition even though they have not been restored.

The heat was getting to all of us and Ted especially so we came home about 2 p.m. We're laying low in this heat until the sun goes down and it cools off some. Tomorrow we head to Reed Pointe, MT for just an overnight.

We stopped at Wal-Mart in Billings to get groceries and more medicine for Ted who was still not up to snuff and then pulled into Reed Pointe about 3 p.m. I needed to mail some stuff and right there behind our RV was a post office. Serendipity! While Ted set up I walked over and took care of the mail. That evening there was a complete rainbow in the sky and Ted took this picture.

Saturday was a beautiful drive along the Boulder, Yellowstone and Madison Rivers into Ennis where we stayed for one night. The view of the mountains for 360 degrees is spectacular.

Ted and I drove to Virginia City without Rick and Brenda who were resting. It is a gold rush town that has frozen in time. The main street looked pretty much like it did in the 1800s except for the road which would have been dirt. We loved the arcade that had machines we haven't seen since our days in the '50s at Cincinnati's Coney Island. Do you remember the gypsy fortune teller in the movie Big with Tom Hanks? They had one of those there too. We then drove down the road to Nevada City. It wasn't nearly as interesting and seems to me that they are just trying to become a tourist spot based on their proximity to Virginia City. However, they did have a building filled with wonderful old organs from carousels. A huge one at the back came from Paris and was playing continuously. I could just visualize the horses going round and round. I'll publish a Virginia City post next time.

We drove back to the Lions Park in Ennis and sat on a glider watching kids fish in a pond. You have to be under 12 to fish here. All of a sudden the wind whipped up and we ran for the truck. By the time we got back to the campground it was pouring and we had to wait for a bit to get inside the RV.

We told Rick and Brenda how much we enjoyed Virginia City so they drove over before it got dark. We went into town and had dinner at a little cafe. Then we walked up and down the main thoroughfare. There are lots of galleries and realtors here.

This morning it is 63 inside the RV and after church we head to Island Park, ID and we'll be about 12 miles from the west entrance of Yellowstone. Since we've all been here before I haven't planned an agenda. We'll just play it by ear. Ted and I are looking at how we want to get home from here. We have lots of choices so we'll let you know when we know!


Anonymous said...

Matt is stationed at FOB Gerryowen in Iraq.I was wandering who it was named for. Now I know. Thanks, Laurie

Juju and Harry said...

We were in Virginia City back in May and loved it. Glad to see that Island Park is still cool Oregon is hot everywhere but the coast so guess where we are. Put this area on your bucket list.
Harry and Juju