The tentacles of the Oil Boom in Williston reach far and wide. Minot, 100 miles east, was flooded with workers, and the same was true on the other side of the enterprise in Northeastern Montana. We wound up finding a campground vacancy in Glendive, MT, about 50 miles southwest of Williston.
Our site was nothing to write home about, but we found plenty to interest us in the Glendive C-of-C’s 92 page tourist and relocation guide. Glendive is the eastern end of the Montana Dinosaur Trail, a chain of 14 museums in 12 communities primarily across the northern reaches of the state. Glendive sports two locations: a downtown museum and Makoshika State Park, dubbed the “Badlands of Eastern Montana.”
First, the museum. Steve and Christie Bury, Seattle expatriates, moved with their daughters Chantell and Courtney and $300 to Glendive a decade ago and opened up a music shop, Hell Creek Music, in a century-old downtown building. Walk in and you are surrounded with dozens of instruments and accessories covering every inch of the walls and counters. If you walk half way down the store and glance right through the archway, you’ll find that a wall divides the space down the middle, and the view on the other side is considerably less contemporary. (Picture at left from the Billings Gazette)
Now it’s Hell Creek Music & More. Half the space is the Makoshika Dinosaur Museum. Steve and Christie’s other life is the preservation of artifacts from three ages of the area — Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous. It’s an extensive collection of sculptures, replicas and real fossils, enough to keep you fascinated for a long time. T-Rex dominates the scene as you enter.
Talented musicians, Chantell and Courtney have flown the coop and are now a popular touring duo out west. Performing in many well-known hot spots on the coast, they’re known as H3LLOMYNAME IS.
Less than two miles beyond our site, Makoshika State Park is the largest in Montana. It is at the upper end of the Cedar Creek Anticline, a 30 x 150 mile uplifting in the earth that is described as resembling a ripple in a blanket. The Anticline runs from there down into the northwestern corner of South Dakota. You may not be surprised to learn that Makoshika is Lakota for . . . bad land!
The Park and Anticlime are contained within the Hell Creek Formation, a layer of rock deposited at the end of the dinosaur age that runs from northern Colorado through eastern Wyoming and western Dakotas in an arc covering over half of Montana. The Park, therefore, is a treasure trove of both geology and paleontology. Erosion creates hillocks, ledges, mushroom columns and large flats, topped in places with sub-tropical grasses and trees. Beneath the surface, more than 10 species of dinosaurs have been found, as well as an archaeological richness of many species. The Park’s Visitors Center offers additional exhibits.
Over the years, we’ve found a strong correlation between the location of campgrounds and the presence of railroading, especially its sounds. Glendive took that one step further. About 200 yards away, the lower end of a six track make-up yard was active 24 hours a day. Trains would come in from both directions and depart after being restructured. The white noise was the idling diesel engines, and it was supplemented by the slams of couplers and the shouts of the crews. To us, it was not only non-disturbing; it was a source of entertainment as we speculated on how many cars, how many engines, time of departure and direction. Simple pleasures!
We had given short shrift to eastern Montana during our three year Journey and were making up for it now. Read on!