To those people who live in and love Montana, I must apologize for the following statement. Northern Montana is very long east to west and very monotonous. Coming from Nebraska, I can relate to the umbrage that might be taken to this comment, as we often hear the same thing and know it certainly does not apply to the entire state. However, our travel this trip through this part of the state fighting a fierce crosswind was less than enjoyable.
Northern Montana Lake Fresno
We did find a lovely spot overlooking Lake Fresno to camp for the night. There were numerous campers parked there but no people. We assumed they were snagging their sites for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
This might be an appropriate time to add comments about our “camping.” Our RV was equipped with all the comforts of home and our meals were most definitely not hot dogs and beans. In addition to a full stove and microwave, we had a nice little grill. Our typical dinners would be something like grilled steak or chicken, potatoes or rice pilaf, and corn on the cob or fresh green beans. Not exactly roughing it.
We crossed the border into Canada at Couts. I don’t think that border agent liked his job all that much. He was definitely not pleasant! His questioning seemed a little over the top. In our experiences in the past we have found Canadians to be very friendly so maybe it’s just the border agent thing.
Our next encounter with Canadians was what we had expected. We stopped at the Milk River Visitors’ Center and the young ladies there were extremely welcoming and very helpful. They steered us to some secondary roads that would help us avoid Calgary and its traffic and provided us with much information and numerous brochures.They also encouraged us to stop in Lethbridge at Fort Whoop-Up National Historic Site. We went there and were glad we did.
Fort Whoop-Up Exterior Fort Whoop-Up Interior
This fort is a replica reconstruction of the original fort with three museum galleries and numerous period rooms. The self-guided tour accompanied by the Voices from the Past program – audio vignettes presented by various scoundrels and lawmen who called Fort Whoop-Up home – was most interesting.
Originally called Fort Hamilton, the fort was built by Montana traders, and was the largest of 110 established posts and forts throughout Blackfoot country. Because of the use of whiskey to “encourage” trade, the fort developed an infamous reputation and became known as Fort Whoop-Up.
This reputation and the fact that an American flag was said to be flying over Canadian territory led to the formation of the North West Mounted Police in 1873. The Mounties arrived at Fort Whoop-Up in October 1874, their task being to establish Canadian sovereignty in the Northwest and to control the alcohol trade. A Fort Benton newspaper was the first to report that the Canadian Mounties “always get their man.” In 1875, the Mounties established a post at the fort by renting one of the buildings and for the next twelve years, the Fort continued to trade and host a Mounted Police post – an unusual arrangement! We’re assuming that the whooping-up at Fort Whoop-Up also settled down.
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