Bozeman, Montana July 1, 2020

Leaving our campground in Gardiner, Montana just outside the Yellowstone NP, we headed north to Bozeman, Montana pop 49,000.  It is the fourth largest city in Montana and the home of Montana State University. 

Bozeman was named for John Bozeman who brought the first wagon train of settlers to this area and founded the town in 1864. He blazed the trail which later became known as Bozeman Trail which was the way west for many settlers and miners. The area was a sacred hunting area to Native Americans and there were constant attacks on the settlers. When John Bozeman was killed by the Sioux, his trail remained unused for nine years because of repeated attacks. Today the Bozeman area is one of the state’s prime agriculturally productive regions.

After an easy 90 minute drive we pulled into what turned out to be our least favorite campground this year. We are not picky and do not have high expectations, but this campground was situated between an interstate highway and a railroad track. If the constant traffic noise didn’t keep you awake, the train whistles would. Added to that was an almost nonexistent Verizon signal and a high price. We told ourselves it was only for six nights and could tolerate it that long.

When I was looking for geocaches in the area, I found one located at the Little Bear School House and Museum. The one room school house is made from logs, built in 1912 and was used until 1950. In 1998 it was opened as a museum with authentic desks, ink wells, writing slates, teacher’s desk, black boards and learning materials from the early 20th century. There were also antique lunch boxes and fountain pen collections and an antique merry go round. As a former teacher I was really looking forward to the visit. It was located ten miles outside of Bozeman. IMG_20200701_120011IMG_20200701_120530

We arrived to find it closed due to the pandemic. I had checked before we left and their Facebook page said it was open. Come on people, it is not that hard to update a website’s information. We tried to look in the windows but the bright sunlight and thick screens prevented us from seeing much. These pictures were taken through the windows. IMG_20200701_120250IMG_20200701_120308

The wooden walkway leading to the front door had the names of students who had attended the school. IMG_20200701_120024

On Sunday we drove thirty miles to Missouri Headwaters State Park where the Gallatin, Jefferson and Madison Rivers converge to form the Missouri River, the longest river in North America. IMG_20200704_140556

It flows 2,341 miles before entering the Mississippi River north of St Louis, Missouri. The Mississippi River is the second longest at 2,141 miles. If you add the lengths of the Missouri and Ohio Rivers to the Mississippi, it would makes the Mississippi River the third longest river system in the world. 

In 1805, Lewis and Clark camped at the Missouri River headwaters for three days and thought their exploration of the Missouri River to its source as one of the major goals of their expedition. Lewis and Clark agreed to named the three rivers:

  • the Jefferson River after President Thomas Jefferson,
  • the Madison River after Secretary of State James Madison, and
  • the Gallatin River after Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin. IMG_20200704_142636

Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who traveled with Lewis and Clark, had roots in this area. At the age of twelve, while camped here with her people, she was kidnapped by another tribe and taken to what is now North Dakota as a slave. Charbonneau, a fur trader, purchased her. Charbonneau was hired for the Lewis and Clark Expedition as an interpreter. He brought along Sacagawea with her infant son. Her presence helped convince the Native Americans of the group’s peaceful intentions. Later Sacagawea helped them find the Shoshones where she was reunited with her brother. The Shoshone agreed to sell them the horses they desperately needed to cross the mountains. The Shoshone asked for payment in guns which they needed to fight their enemies. IMG_20200704_144927

During the Civil War entrepreneurs started a small town here in hopes of establishing a major transportation center with steamships connecting with stage lines. This never took hold and the area became a ghost town before becoming a state park in 1951.  Here stands the remnants of the Gallatin City hotel, about 1862. IMG_20200704_140753

Over the centuries the three forks of the Missouri River was a natural crossroads and meeting place for many different Indian nations to come together. Later traveling bands of hunters used the area to meet, trade and camp. Today we saw it as a popular place for people to tube down the water, pandemic or no pandemic! IMG_20200704_143028IMG_20200704_151315

Next up was the nearby Madison Buffalo Jump State Park. This is an extremely small state park accessed on a gravel road. Neither state park we visited today was manned by any park rangers. We just put our entrance fee in an envelope in a box and continued on. IMG_20200704_153934

Starting two thousand years ago and used as recently as two hundred years ago, the Madison Buffalo Jump was used to kill buffalo. Before Indians acquired horses, they sometimes stampeded large herds of buffalo off this high limestone cliff and Indians waiting at the base killed them with spears. This was most often done in the fall of the year when buffalo cows were prime and the tribes were gathering food and supplies for the winter. Highly skilled young men trained for speed and endurance wore buffalo, antelope or wolf skins to lure the buffalo to the cliff. They would excite or frighten them into a stampede over the edge. Buffalo bones are still buried at the base of the cliff. We thought about hiking to the top of the cliff but gathering storm clouds convinced us otherwise. IMG_20200704_154915IMG_20200704_154336

Another day we visited the American Computer and Robotics Museum in Bozeman. Known as the oldest continually operating museum of its kind in the world and labeled by a Harvard professor as “Inch for inch, the best museum in the world”, and given that Bill is a computer engineer, you know we just had to visit! It is a museum of the history of computers, communications, artificial intelligence and robotics. IMG_20200701_143958MVIMG_20200701_140730IMG_20200701_141708r

With that said, I have to step aside and let Bill take over from here with this part of the blog!

The museum has many real items like one of Isaac Newton’s original book 1687, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.  On loan is a Enigma Machine which the Germans believed was impossible to break but Alan Turing and his team in England developed technology to decrypt most of the German war messages during the war.



Alan Turing (1912-1954) ideas were used to create the modern computers and conceived of the field of “Artificial Intelligence”.


John von Neumann (1903 -1957) was a mathematician regarded as the one of the greatest mathematician in modern history. He made major contributions to many fields. His concept of data and program stored in the computer memory space has become the de facto standard for most computers that exist today (called the von Neumann architecture).

Here are some of the many early personal computers of the 1980’s. IMG_20200701_141847IMG_20200701_141857IMG_20200701_141904IMG_20200701_142027

One of my favorite devices is the Curta four function hand held, mechanical calculator (about the size of a soup can.) Developed in the 1930 was built until electronic calculators in the 1970s displaced them. IMG_20200701_132910

Next up: Montana’s capitol area Helena and Butte city.

One thought on “Bozeman, Montana July 1, 2020

  1. rmontelius

    Now you are in my neck of the woods. Looking forward to your Helena report. I graduated from HHS in 1967. Expecting to see some pics of the Capitol, the Cathedral and the Civic Center. If you want, drive by the house I grew up in at 1316 Hauser Blvd… 🙂

    Bob Montelius

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