Tuesday, May 19, 2009

View from the Bridge

“VIEW from the BRIDGE”
by Muncie Morger

If you have family and friends living outside of the glorious State of Montana and they do not receive the River Press (get them one for their birthday or Christmas) and tell them about the Fort Benton website. The web site is http://www.fortbenton.com/. It is fascinating to read things about Fort Benton that you never knew before on the history, museum, and other pages. In checking with Sharalee Smith this afternoon (Monday), she informed me that there were 613 hits for the Museums. She has only used new tracking program for the last eight (8) days. Incredible!

On Thursday, May 21st at 10:00am or 7:00pm, will be a get together at the Ag Center with Bob Doerk for “what’s new at the Museums.”
On Friday, May 29th from 9:00am to 12 noon at the B.L.M. Interpretive Center with be a Super Host program. Please call Ruth Carlstrom at 622-3638 if you are going to attend this program.

Another big weekend for Visitors will be on Friday, May 22nd when both the B.L.M., Museums and the Old Fort begin their season. The Museums will be open from 10:00am to 4:00pm Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, the schedule will be 12 noon to 4:00pm. The Old Fort with our very special guide, Burnt Spoon, will have tours at 10:30am and 1:30pm from Tuesday through Saturday. Our also very special woman guides Betty and Mary present Sunday (tour only at 1:30pm) and Monday (regular tour hours). (I wonder if I can get them in costumes. This will be the first they will hear of my brilliant idea and I can imagine how excited they are going to be. More later on this if they don’t do away with me in the meanwhile.)

The B.L.M. hours are from 8:00am to 5:00pm 7 days a week. Visitors and others, who plan floating the Missouri, probably know they check in with the B.L.M. before they depart. There are some new motorized restrictions this year that you will want to know about.

Between ten and fifteen antique automobiles visited Fort Benton this past weekend. The most expressed comment from the group was that they never dreamed that Fort Benton had so much to offer. Their tour guide, Mary Zanto, said there were twenty-three Visitors on the tour and that hardly was enough time for the Ag Center to be covered.

This brings up the “word of mouth” means of communication. When you readers are telling your family and friends about Fort Benton, please relate that it is “A Whole Day Experience.” Yes, the admission to the museums is $10.00 for two days, but for those who are only spending the day, we suggest that you be at the Museum of the Upper Missouri at 10:00am and expect to be in Fort Benton the entire day. You not only would first visit the Visitor’s Information Center in the Old Fire Hall (near the Grand Union) but you would not want to miss walking the Steamboat Levee Trail. It is two and one third miles from one end to the other and back to where you started. It is a walking history trail with the informative signs, the wooden Mandan, and the bronze statues. Add to that walk another one third of a mile from one end of the Old Bridge (our most prized possession in my opinion) and back again.

I searched out an eyewitness for a report on Graduation since I was in Missoula for our granddaughter Emily’s big day. My informant tells me that it was not held outside this year but in the gym. She said everything went as planned for the twenty-two (22) graduates and the program lasted 45 minutes. Mandy Knight did a fabulous job as guest speaker. She included Dr. Suess’s “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” It began with “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!” It ends with “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!” I wonder how many of you climbed your mountain and how many of you could still get started.

The schedule for Summer Celebration will be out, without any problems, at the end of the week or the first part of next. That will be just about a month until the big days. Sharalee tells me that Summer Celebration web page got 1,227 hits in the last eight (8) days. Connie Jenkins was thrilled about that but even more so because several of the hits were from Ireland. The Thomas Meagher dedication has invoked a great deal of interest from the Irish folks. Wouldn’t it be interesting to find that they are here in Fort Benton for the dedication? Could there be descendants of Meagher’s in Ireland?

VIEW from the BRIDGE
Sometimes I wonder if anyone is reading the column. Last week I did have phone calls from two people who wanted to order cement memorial benches after reading in the River Press that I had a deadline for ordering. Today (Monday) when I spoke to Sharalee she said that the View had gotten 909 hits in the eight (8) day period of the new tracking program on the website. Wow! That made my day and nine (9) is my lucky number because my birthday is 9/9. I will not tell you the year although it kind of rhymes too. Oh well, I think you all know that it was 1929. I have no secrets left.

I want to say “God Bless America.” I would like so much to see more patriotism, more flags, more singing of the National Anthem, more honoring our Veterans and in general more red, white and blue everywhere. There was some heightening of patriotism when 9/11 happened but it faded quickly. Our Veterans are dying at about 1,100 a day. There were about 4,000,000 service men and women in WWII and now there are only 1,500,000 left but dying at an accelerated rate. I do have to say that we are thanked many times if we have on some sort of identification of service to our Country. With Memorial Day coming up next Monday, take the time to tell a Veteran that you appreciate what they have done to keep you free. Then keep it up all year long. “God Bless America, land that I love.”