Tuesday, June 14, 2011

View From The Bridge 6/15/11

“VIEW from the BRIDGE”
By Muncie

A while back, I mentioned that The Garden Club had adopted the plot in front of the Museum of the Upper Missouri, (known to residents as the Little Museum.) There were two huge bushes at the site and when The Club cut them down last fall, they found four (4) various sized rocks that were hidden on the left hand side.

Nancy LaChappell stopped by and asked if I would put a plea in the View for four (4) rocks to place on the right hand side. It would balance the landscaping nicely. I just received a call from Nancy and she measured the largest rock. It is 6 ft. around. The smaller rocks are about 4 ft. around.

Give me a jingle at 622-3217 (after 2:00 p.m.) if you can donate to this project. We will make some sort of arrangements. Oh, a thought just came to me. Could this possibly be done before Summer Celebration? Of course, anything is possible, I have been told.

Isn’t the Fireworks Show the highlight of Summer Celebration? We would not like to go without it. I am asking you to donate to the Fireworks Fund Raising Program. Many people think that the City pays for the fireworks. Not so. It is and always has been a donation event.

I remember a year that I carried a coffee can around through the crowd for donations. It was already dusk and fireworks viewers were not prepared for the request. It was very funny because it could have been just anyone carrying a can and collecting money. Perhaps that is why it was not repeated. I hope this does not give anyone any ideas about carrying a can around. If someone tries it, do a citizens arrest.

The method of collecting has changed to request letters to each household. Mail your check payable to Fort Benton Fireworks, P.O. Box 1383, Fort Benton, MT 59442. Donations can also be dropped off at the First Security Bank in care of Connie Jenkins.

This long awaited lighting will happen immediately after the fireworks show. Yes, those men you see working on The Old Bridge are doing a great deal of prep work and are installing the new lights. They have a lift that goes to the height of 30 ft. I am happy that there are men who choose to do that sort of work. I do not even want to go up a 3ft. ladder.

As of this writing, (Sunday afternoon,) the Missouri River peaked on June 10th at 10.7 ft. On June 11th it was at 10.6 ft. and this afternoon it was 10.2 ft. Both Google and Bing have the same charts while AVG has a different one. If you would like to check these yourself go to Missouri River Level Fort Benton. I have been leaving my computer on all day to check the levels. They are interesting sites as they also give you information about the millions of gallons that are flowing by and how fast.

This afternoon I visited The River Press and looked through the copies of the 1953 editions. I could not find anything about the Hogback in particular but I did find these interesting facts. It seems that the record rainfall was during both May and June. May rainfall set a record at 6.86 in. The Upper Shonkin for May 24th and 25th rainfall was 6.57 for that 24 hr. period. The Shonkin gauge for May was 13.13 in. The Missouri was at it’s second highest at 11.4 ft. which past 1948’s total of 10.96 ft, and was under 1908 at 16.03 ft. These were not government figures because they were not yet in place.

In the June 10th issue the Elser, Krause, and Lynch homes along Highwood Creek were washed away. The Shonkin rain gauge for May and June was 24.26 in. Kotthoff’s weather report of the Upper Shonkin was 19.8 in. in 12 days. Temporary repairs to roads and bridges estimated at $110,000. (I wonder what it would cost today.)

If you have been taking daily rides to check the Missouri River, you have seen that the island by the Sunrise Bluffs is completely covered. Going around the Bluffs to the road beside the Levee Walking Trail, the proposed trail extension is completely covered with water.

This area is a field trip for seeing animals and birds. A couple, we stopped to chat with, said that they saw a female deer and her little one (who had swam the river,) a beaver and a muskrat. They said that the eagle’s nest, we had been watching further down stream across the river, had two babies in it. You have to use binoculars to view the nest. We have not been there lately because the road was too muddy. My grandson, Grayson, was visiting for a couple of days and he said he saw a small yellow bird and thought it was a canary. If any bird watchers read this column, could you verify that?

This has turned out to be an interesting addition to Florence Wilmes’ story about the approach collapse at the Hogback in June of 1953. Florence said that she lived about 10 miles east of Geraldine. That is what made me think that the Hogback was near Geraldine and after conversation with her this evening, it was verified that it is the Hogback right outside of Fort Benton on the road to Geraldine.

She and her family were on their way to Fort Benton for a doctor’s appointment as she was five or six months pregnant. She does not remember the date of the appointment but she did remember it was in June. Her third child was born in October so in June she was uncomfortably pregnant. She and her husband had to carry their two children across the planks. It was an unforgettable experience. .

The bridge did not actually wash out but the approach on the Geraldine side was. That is where the planks were placed for people to walk onto the bridge. Florence does not remember who drove them to town and back.

I also received a phone call from Evon Anderson who has pictures of the approach washout and the pictures show the planks. He was kind enough to bring the pictures over this morning (Monday) and The River Press is printing the pictures. Perhaps some of you readers will be able to identify the people in the photos. There will also be pictures on the Fort Benton website (in color) by clicking on View from the Bridge. Remember the site access is http://www.fortbenton.com/ 

When Florence said that it was frightening to go across the planks, I had no idea what that might have been like until I saw the pictures. Scary! Note that in one of the pictures is a ladder down to a boat and that gave you a choice to cross the planks or do the ladder. I think I would have turned around and gone back home. How about you?

Also, note the old truck, (what year would it be?) the cars parked in the background, and that the bridge in 1953 was in a different location.

Very soon, The Old River Press Emporium will be open. If you have treasures that you just do not have room for, arrange for a space with Terri Baker. She is located at the Old River Press building on Front Street. She is eagerly awaiting your call at 871-4205. It is a prime location and another advantage is that the Emporium will be open on Sundays.

The beauty of this business is the old building was begging for some T.L.C. and Terry managed that seemingly with ease. However, it was work and now is ready for what she meant it to be. Drop by when you see the “Open” sign and see what treasure you can find.

It was a dynamite presentation and a dynamic motivator, Becky Henne, who certainly motivated all of the 45 people who attended. She said that she had never before had an attendance like that. She said that perhaps the picnic food that was served or the door prizes that were given were the reasons for the turnout. (Just kidding.)

Tourism is the name of the game in Montana now. Our Tourism advertisers must get the word out what our state has to offer. Last years theme was “Lost in Montana” and this year it is “Lost and Found in Montana.”

Becky had never been to Fort Benton before and was amazed at what we have to offer. She was very humorous and one of things she focused on was the cleanliness of the town. She asked if we all cut our lawns on the same day. (I think that was true because everyone cut their grass on the one day we had without rain.) Becky drove all over town, viewed every thing, and commented on all she saw. She was very complimentary and said she would return at her first opportunity.

One of the most interesting things we talked about was, “Through the Years-Generations at a Glance.” This began with my generation who are Traditionalists born before 1945. The Baby Boomers were next and born between 1945 and 1954. The X Generation followed born between 1965 and 1980. Finally, the Millennials born after 1980. For each of these categories there was a list of Quick Stats, General Characteristics, In the Workplace, and finally to Communicate and Engage.

I will leave a copy at Information Center and if you are interested in reading about the above comments, do drop in to visit, and read the copy. You will find it exceedingly interesting and perhaps it will help to make you a little more tolerant than you now are. It certainly opened my eyes.

Because we were not in town last Pie Day, I did not know that there will be no Pie Day this month, or next month, or the next month. The next Pie Day will be in September. That sure seems like a long way away. We will certainly miss going to the Golden Age Center on the third Friday of those months. However, we wish you a wonderful summer months of rest from baking pies.

I do not know of any other events that will be happening. We are just anticipating Summer Celebration with all its activities starting on June 24th. Pick up your schedules that are available all around town and make your plans now. Think about what to make for the potluck supper, what kind of pie to bake for the auction, where you could volunteer to help for an hour or two, and what kind of food you want to eat. It will be a fun time in the old town for three days. Enjoy all of it because it only happens once a year.