Trip Start Apr 12, 1992
65Trip End Jun 15, 1992
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Warn, slight overcast
Western Montana, from Missoula to east of Butte, is mining country. Having read this in advance, I expected to see huge areas of wasteland, hillsides laid bare by mining operations. There were some indications of this, but the landscape along my route was not terribly disfigured
I was pleased to discover Anaconda is a neat, clean town with many modest, well-maintained homes, freshly painted, with neatly trimmed green lawns and prolific flower gardens. That is not at all what I expected a mining town to look like. My expectations were based on my memories of terribly raped mountain sides, filthy rivers, slag piles, and the dust blanket which covers the mining areas throughout Appalachia, particularly in Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.
Anaconda calls itself the "Richest Hill in The World." The claim is based on the value of minerals, primarily copper, that have already been hauled to refineries, and the estimated value of ore still remaining to be scooped from the hills.
I crossed the Continental Divide again, at 6393 feet elevation. I have lost count of the number of times I have crossed this elusive imaginary, but very real line.
I-90 east from Missoula crosses rolling prairie and scenic hills. Generally, higher mountains are visible in the distance, sometimes to the north, sometimes south, and always west.
Bozeman, 4795 feet elevation, is home to Montana State University. It is another very attractive city. It is clean, looks prosperous, and still retains a very definite air of frontierism. People in the western cattle and mining country are self reliant, and exhibit soft-spoken confidence. I don't know how they convey this atmosphere, but they do.