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Posts Tagged ‘Bear Mouth Montana’

Bearmouth, Ravenna and Garnet, Montana

Posted by graywacke on April 9, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2337; A Landing A Day blog post number 768.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long 46o 45.755’N, 113o 20.028’W) puts me in W-Cen Montana:


My local landing map shows two (of three) titular towns:

So where’s Garnet?

Before we can answer that question, let’s take a look at my watershed analysis:

You can see that I landed in the watershed of Bear Creek (in a valley known as Bear Gulch, as you’ll soon see), and that Bear Creek discharges to the Clark Fork (22nd hit). 

Zooming back, you can see that the Clark Fork discharges in (ends up being?) the Pend Oreille (24th hit), and that the Pend Oreille takes a brief sojourn to Canada (BC) before discharging into the Columbia (167th hit):

JFTHOI, I’ll zoom in to get a better look at the conjunction of the Pend Oreille and the Columbia:

And (borrowing from an earlier Montana Clark Fork watershed post):

Notice how the Pend Oreille (P.O.) heads up into Canada before it discharges into the Columbia (which is headed south out of Canada)?  It turns out that the P.O. discharges into the Columbia a few hundred yards north of the international boundary line.  Here’s a Google Earth (GE) shot, showing the “Boundary” hydroelectric dam – and yes, some of the kilowatts stay in Canada and some of them head south . . .

Now it’s time to watch as GE zeroes in on landing 2337. Click HERE (then hit your back button).

As always, the first thing I do when I crank up GE is check out Street Views of my landing.  This one’s not so hot (about three and a half miles away):

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

But wait!  Let me zoom in a little on the brown road sign:

Ah ha!  Bear Gulch (the home of Bear Creek) and Garnet, the titular town that doesn’t make it on my StreetAtlas map.

And here’s a GE shot identifying Garnet:

(For the record, Ravenna shows up on StreetAtlas, but not on GE.  Oh, well).

Here’s an oblique GE shot looking past Bear Gulch past my landing:

There’s Street View coverage along the road right before Bear Creek discharges to the Clark Fork.  But it looks like the creek is in a culvert, so there’s nothing to see.  But here’s the view from I-90, looking across the Clark Fork at where the creek discharges:

I took the Orange Dude a little further west, along the road that runs on the north side of Clark Fork.  Here’s a view of the river:

It’s time to move on to the town that shows up on both platforms:  Bearmouth.  Wiki:

Bearmouth [sometimes written as Bear Mouth, which I prefer] was not a mining camp, but rather a town that depended on the survival of other towns that were mining camps, such as neighboring Garnet. The town was also a main stop for stagecoaches on the old Mullan Road.

During the late 19th century, enormously rich ores from Garnet came into Bearmouth to be shipped to smelters. When Garnet died, Bearmouth followed suit.

It had a beautiful two-storied, balconied inn for travelers to spend the night, which still stands.

Still stands, eh?  Well, here’s a Street View shot looking across the Clark Fork at the very same two-storied balconied inn (now the Bearmouth Chalet, associated with an RV park):

Just a quick note about the Mullan Road (that ran through Bear Mouth.  From Wiki:

Mullan Road was the first wagon road to cross the Rocky Mountains, ending up in the Pacific Northwest.  It was built by U.S. Army troops under the command of Lt. John Mullan, between the spring of 1859 and summer 1860. It led from Fort Benton, Montana – at the navigational head of the Missouri and the farthest inland port in the world – across Idaho and into western Washington to Fort Walla Walla, near the Columbia River. The road previewed the route approximately followed of modern-day Interstate 15 and Interstate 90 [which runs right through Bear Mouth].

Moving on to Ravenna.  True confessions.  I probably would have ignored Ravenna if it weren’t for the fact that way back in the day, I lived just outside of Ravenna, Ohio.  I went to grad school at nearby Kent State University, and worked in Akron (also nearby) for a couple of years. 

I happen to know that Ravenna Ohio was named after Ravenna Italy.  I’d like to think that Ravenna Montana was named after Ravenna Ohio . . .

Anyway, all that remains in Ravenna, Montana (and the only reason it has any internet presence at all), is the remains of electrical Substation #9.  I had the Orange Dude travel a few miles west from Bear Mouth and look across the river.  Here’s what he sees:

One might ask why there is an electrical substation out in the middle of nowhere.  I had to go to YouTube to find out.  DavidEgg22 posted an artsy video of the abandoned substation.  He has a write-up, which I’ll present before the video:

Uploaded on Nov 12, 2011.  [Geez.  He missed 11/11/11 by one day . . .]

Ruins and rust; taken over by nature! The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad electrified 440 miles for their trains to cross the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. The electric locomotives were powered by substations that converted 110,000 volt AC current to 3,000 volts DC. The 22 substations were built in 1909 and were located approximately 30 miles apart. The electric operations ended during June 1974 and the line through here was abandoned March 1980. The Ravenna Substation #9 is one of 7 substations still standing.

In 1981, I walked the two miles of track to this remote station (and me without a camera!) The building looked to be in good shape and most of the windows were still intact but the interior equipment was all removed and salvaged. The floors were scattered with papers such as train orders, log books and the like. The nigh voltage power still ran up over the building (accessible by ladders) producing a humming sound. As you can see from this video, the building has started to deteriorate with the help of vandals and Mother Nature.

Here’s the video – with, believe it or not – 16,162 views!


I couldn’t help myself, so I took a quick Wiki look at Ravenna Ohio.  The only thing of interest was in the list of Notable People.  Here’s a screen shot of the top half of the list:

How about that!  See the entry after Robert B. “Yank” Heisler???

I scanned the list, looking to see if there was a truly Notable Person (besides, of course, yours truly).  Yank didn’t make it.  My skepticism about the list-worthiness of many of these individuals is confirmed by Wiki’s note in the box at the top of the list.  Here’s what it says:

This list of “famous” or “notable” persons has no inclusion or exclusion criteria.  Please help to define clear inclusion criteria and edit the list to contain only subjects that fit those criteria (August 2013).

It doesn’t look like anyone has done any editing.  If/when they do, I hope that I make the cut!

Someone who will definitely make any cut is Bill Bower.  He was the “last surviving pilot of the Doolittle Raid.”

From Wiki:

William “Bill” Bower (1917 – 2011) was a U.S. Air Force Colonel and veteran of World War II. Bower was the last surviving pilot of the Doolittle Raid, the first air raid to target the Japanese home island of Honshu.

A native of Ravenna, Ohio, Bower graduated from Ravenna High School in 1934.  He attended Hiram College and Kent State University from 1934 until 1936.

And this, about the Doolittle Raid (also Wiki):

The Doolittle Raid, on April 18, 1942, was an air raid by the United States of America on the Japanese capital Tokyo and other places on the island of Honshu during World War II, the first air strike to strike the Japanese Home Islands. The raid took place only 4 months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

It demonstrated that Japan itself was vulnerable to American air attack, served as retaliation for Pearl Harbor and provided an important boost to American morale. The raid was planned and led by Lieutenant Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle of the US Army Air Forces.

Sixteen B-25B Mitchell medium bombers were launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet deep in the Western Pacific Ocean, each with a crew of five men. The plan called for them to bomb military targets in Japan, and to continue westward to land in China—landing a medium bomber on Hornet was impossible.

[They must have physically loaded the planes on the aircraft carrier, knowing they could take off, but not land.]

Fifteen aircraft reached China, but all crashed, while the 16th landed at Vladivostok in the Soviet Union. All but three of the 80 crew members initially survived the mission. Eight airmen were captured by the Japanese Army in China; three of those were later executed. The B-25 that landed in the Soviet Union was confiscated and its crew interned for more than a year. Fourteen complete crews, except for one crewman who was killed in action, returned to the United States or to American forces.

Here are a couple of shots from the USS Hornet (via Wiki).  First this, of the bombers crowded on the deck just prior to the mission:

And this, of one of the planes taking off, headed to Tokyo:

As mentioned previously, Bill Bower was the last surviving pilot.  Four surviving crew members remain.  To learn more about the raid and the remaining survivors, Google Doolittle Raid and/or go to DoolittleRaider.com.

It’s time to head back to Montana and check out Garnet.  I found an April 2015 article from the Missoulian by Rob Chaney entitled “Garnet Ghost Town Seeks Volunteer Resident.”  Here’s a picture from the article (a BLM pic), followed by some excerpts:

A chance to really get to know the ghosts at Garnet Ghost Town is one of the benefits of a volunteer residency summer program at the historic site.

“It’s primitive, to say the least,” U.S. Bureau of Land Management Garnet Ranger Nacoma Gainan said. “It’s for people who love the outdoors and want to give back. There’s no electricity, no Wi-Fi and no running water. But there are trails to explore, artifacts to inspect. Volunteers are really left to their own devices after the visitors are gone.”

In the past, one volunteer from Buffalo, New York, spent 11 consecutive summers at Garnet, while another couple made it their summer plan for a decade. This year, however, the calendar is open for the months of August and September.

BLM provides a private furnished cabin with propane stove and refrigerator, wood stove and a food stipend. Volunteers will provide visitor information, lead tours and handle sales of souvenirs.

Garnet’s mining history started in the 1860s, when the first lodes of silver and gold were discovered there. At its peak, nearly 1,000 people lived in the small valley.

The town went through several booms and busts, and a small operating mine still functions near the boundary of the town site. Over the years, preservationists restored many of the town’s buildings, including its Miners Union hall, Kelly’s Saloon and several residences.

Here’s a GE pano shot (by Ostrom), reminding us all that they have a winter in Montana, and the miners were living and working all winter long:

Here’s a what-the-heck shot of a not-so-old piece of presumed mining equipment (pano shot by OffTheTrail):

I’ll close with this Pano shot by Elifino 57, taken near Bear Mouth.  I like the picture, even though the photographer pushed the “color saturation” bar on his photo editor a little too far to the right . . .

That’ll do it . . .




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