Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Geography and History on the Road - The Big Hole Basin, Montana

Summer time, is when our history, and geography studies really take off, mainly because summer time is when we take to the road, and see some of it for ourselves.

Like this weekend, on our way to Bannack Days, when we drove through one of my favorite parts of Montana - The Big Hole.

The Big Hole Basin is not far from the lush, treed forest where the girls went camping with the Man of the House, but it looks like another world entirely.

Known as the "Valley of 10000 Haystacks" it is some of the highest, and flattest land in Montana. Which, is particularly surprising, because it is in the western part of Montana, and not the eastern half, which flows out to join the prairies of the Dakotas.

The haystacks, which dot the landscape, are just loose piles of fenced hay, catapulted into place by large hay scoops (also dotting the landscape).

It's an area rich with history. Lewis and Clark were here, or rather Clark, who with some of the Corp of Discovery, dropped over what is now called Gibbons Pass, from the Bitterroot Valley, on their home bound trip, July 3, 1806. He stopped at the hot springs near Jackson to cook some food, and then moved on. The map below, showing this small part of Clark's journey, is from the Montana government's Lewis and Clark pages, where you can read all about their time in the state (click here, to go there).

You can still travel his route over Gibbons Pass, which was also used in 1877 by Chief Joseph, and the non-treaty Nez Perce, passing into the Big Hole, seeking safety from the coming Nez Perce War. Today, there is a battlefield monument, and pleasant museum signifying their failure in that endeavor.

The Man of the House and I, briefly considered the narrow, winding, dirt road over Gibbons Pass, but one of his co-workers took the route recently, and warned us it's a looooong drive over the 6945 ft high pass. So, we opted instead to stick with the highway, and drove without difficulty over the 7264 ft high Chief Joseph Pass instead.

Before we left the basin though, we stopped to take a few pictures of the valley, including the abandoned homestead above, as well as the antelope off to the side of the homestead, who stood watching me with my camera.

You'll notice there are no children in these pictures. That is because, apart from being full of haystacks, history, and wildlife, at this time of year, the Big Hole Basin is also full (really an understatement!) of mosquitoes, and I was the only one willing to get out of the van to face them. The things I do for this blog!

You can find more fun with Geography and History at the weekly link-up hosted by Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Phyllis said...

This is a most interesting post. I love the photos of this area and your connections to history with Lewis and Clark (a favorite in our house, I must admit, as evidenced by the fact my daughter named her cats Lewis and Clark.) Thanks for taking the time (and facing the mosquitos) to show us.

Debbie said...

Interesting facts about Clark. I knew he had spent time in Montana, just didn't remember all the facts. I will have to tell my Nephew about Babback Days, he lives in Dillon, I don't know if he knows about this event.

Ticia said...

Hmmmm..... this makes me curious of when they separated from each other.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Montana looks beautiful. So... are there mosquitoes everywhere or just in this Basin?