Helena Journals

City of Mountains and Gulches: Helena, Montana

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A September 2006 trip to Helena by btwood2

Brewhouse Pub and Grille Photo, Helena, Montana More Photos
Quote: Captivating Helena is a city of contrasts: majestic cathedral and mansions, raunchy mining past; art, culture, and a profusion of gulches - surrounded by mountains and wilderness.

City of Mountains and Gulches: Helena, Montana

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Overview

Our first views of Helena Photo, Helena, Montana
Quote:
Montana's capital city lies at the southern end of a long valley. The Big Belt Mountains lie east, Rocky Mountain ranges and peaks west and north. Mt. Helena, which is also a city park, looms 1300 feet above the city. We approach Helena on the I-15, past the aptly named Gates of the Mountains. There the Missouri River narrows between thousand-foot dark limestone cliffs before opening up again. Our first view of Helena below in its valley, dwarfed by big clouds and massive mountains, glittering in afternoon sunlight, is a breathtaking highlight. Helena National Forest's one million acres lie east, south, and west of Helena Valley. A vast wilderness complex, the Bob M...Read More

Brewhouse Pub and Grille

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Restaurant | "Brewhouse Pub & Grille"

Brewhouse Pub and Grille Photo, Helena, Montana
Quote:
Food Fun Beer = Us reads the marquee under the Brewhouse Pub & Grille sign. Behind it stands a ridged metal gray malt silo. We spied this busy brewhouse and eatery on one of our first days in Helena, and ended up eating there twice: once for a snack and a beer, another time for dinner. They're connected to, actually on top of, Lewis and Clark Brewery, and you can view the shiny tanks and fermentation vessels in the brewery below,when seated in the bar area. Not only that, but also you can read on the back of their beer menu exactly how they craft their product: from the cracking of the malt, to the lautering of the wort, to the boiling in of the hops.The bar was where we ni...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 7, 2007

Brewhouse Pub and Grille
939 1/2 Getchell Street
Helena, Montana 59601
(406) 457-9390

Riley's Irish Pub

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Restaurant

Riley's Irish Pub Photo, Helena, Montana
Quote:
Once we finally found Last Chance Gulch, which is rather hidden in Helena's oldest section, one of the first places that caught our eye was Riley's Irish Pub, on the ground floor of a historic old building. We checked it out, we liked what we saw, and we proceeded to work up our appetites exploring the Gulch before dinner.We were ready for eats when we returned several hours later. Both of us ordered the Wednesday night special, what a deal! For $9.95 apiece, we got hot delicious Irish pasties, nicely spiced and chunky chips, and two 9-ounce beers apiece, sampling four different brews between the two of us. Pasties are the quintessential meal-in-a-pie, filled with meat, potatoes, and ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 7, 2007

Riley's Irish Pub
P.O. Box 293
Helena, Montana 59624
(406) 495-9067

Montana State Capitol

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Attraction

Montana State Capitol Photo, Helena, Montana
Quote:
After 25 years as a territory, Montana became the 41st state in 1889. Though Helena had been the territorial capital, there was bitter contention between copper kings in Anaconda and Helena about which of those two cities would gain title to state capital. Helena won, and the attractive Greek neoclassical capitol building was constructed between 1899 and 1902. Its Montana sandstone exterior is topped by a massive copper dome.A bronze statue of Lady Liberty stands atop the dome. Directly in front of the capitol stands a statue of a man on horseback, waving a sword high in the air. This is Thomas Francis Meagher, a fighting Irish revolutionary, exiled from his motherland to Tanzania as ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 7, 2007

Montana State Capitol
1301 East Sixth Avenue
Helena, Montana

Saint-Helena Cathedral

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Attraction

Saint-Helena Cathedral Photo, Helena, Montana
Quote:
One cannot fail to notice the Gothic spires of St. Helena Cathedral from almost anywhere in Helena. Those 230 foot tall narrow twin spires are compelling. They draw Bob and me up the hill to get a closer look one of our first days in town. The red tiled roofs and smooth pale gray Bedford limestone walls glow in afternoon sunlight. The cathedral itself seems to aspire heavenward, with everything in its architecture pointing, almost yearningly, upward to the sky. We wander around outside, admiring the cathedral from different angles.This intricate and airy geometric Gothic Revival cathedral, designed by architect A. Von Herbulis, is patterned after the Votivkirche in Vienna. The hillto...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 7, 2007

Saint-Helena Cathedral
530 North Ewing
Helena, Montana

Great Northern Town Center

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Attraction | "Great Northern Carousel "

Great Northern Town Center Photo, Helena, Montana
Quote:
The Great Northern Carousel is an anchor of sorts for the Great Northern Town Center. More than 11 acres of centrally located abandoned and decaying railyards have largely been converted to retail, offices, apartment and condo housing, restaurants, fitness center, eight-plex theater, and Best Western motel/conference center, since 1997. Urban infill is always a better idea than suburban sprawl, and credit goes to a Helena developer with a vision, Alan Nicholson, largely responsible for its creation. To further enhance the town center, a brand new science/technology/culture museum called E...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 8, 2007

Great Northern Town Center
40 W. 14th Street, Suite 4B
Helena, Montana 59601
(406) 457-5542

Grizzly Gulch - Limekilns

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Attraction

Twin lime kilns at the start of Grizzly Gulch  Photo, Helena, Montana
Quote:
So many gulches, so little time... Our week in Helena was rapidly coming to an end. We'd just discovered Last Chance Gulch in the old South End of town, and looking at our map, we noticed two more gulches forking south and southwest from Last Chance, Orofino, and Grizzly... Deciding to save Orofino (and Unionville - 3 miles) for another time, we take the right fork up Grizzly Gulch. The surrounding lands are mostly part of Helena National Forest.We are quickly rewarded by ruins of kilns. A sign next to the first set of twin kilns identifies them as lime kilns, built by Joseph O'Neill during the 1860s. Young Joseph came to Montana from Massachusetts, looking to strike a fortune in gold...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 8, 2007

Reeder's Alley

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Story/Tip

Reeder's Alley  Photo, Helena, Montana
Quote:
We spent the better part of an afternoon nosing around historic Reeder's Alley, at the south end of Last Chance Gulch. At first glance, it doesn't look like much. A conglomeration of mismatched buildings - some log cabins, some wooden, and quite a few red-brick ones. Between them, a faded pinkish-gray brick pathway leads up the tree-shaded alley. However, there's more than meets the eye and plenty to keep the interest. This location is the site of Helena's oldest buildings and its mining boomtown beginnings.I didn't realize there even was a visitor center in Reeder's Alley until after exploring some and just happening to stumble onto it, but that's a good place to begin. ...Read More

Last Chance Gulch and Mall

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Story/Tip

Bullwhacker of Last Chance Gulch  Photo, Helena, Montana
Quote:
Last Chance Gulch is where it all began, the heart of old Helena. For it was here that four guys known locally as the Four Georgians, though there's some speculation that there may have been more than four, and that not all of them were actually from Georgia, found GOLD. Prospecting does not a well-platted city make, and old south Helena's streets exemplify futile attempts at straight lines, succeeding less often, but providing more interesting geometry and adventure than any perfectly platted city.Old buildings, new structures, and all ages in between are intertwined and side by side, making for an entertaining if not always consistent experience in architectural viewing. On the...Read More