Dillon, Montana

Helllllooooooo Montana! We find ourselves in Dillon this morning, and the sun is just rising. I'm keeping an eye on the sky in case it turns into something spectacular. (And, later...not so much.)

We left Stanley, possibly for the last time, yesterday morning. Our drive took us on a portion of the Salmon River Scenic Byway, paralleling the Salmon river for much of the way.

On the road to Challis, we passed by Sunbeam Hot Spring. For a minute, the view was obscured by rising steam on both sides of the road.

Nearby, we passed the dynamited remains of the only dam ever built on the Salmon River. The Sunbeam Dam was built on the Salmon River near the Yankee Fork in 1910 and effectively wiped out the native run of sockeye salmon to and from the Pacific Ocean. After providing power for one year the powerhouse was shut down, but the dam sat idle and continued to kill salmon until it was removed in 1934. You can read more about its history right here.

We saw rafters and fly fishermen...

Some bridges...

And some beautiful scenery. We pulled off at a scenic viewpoint. Looking left, I saw this:

Looking right, I saw this:

We saw lots of abandoned homesteads...

A few ramshackle barns...

And some more modern structures.

For all that our previous drive up Idaho 21 was winding, yesterday's road was straight, with almost no traffic to speak of.

Almost no traffic, unless you count the occasional stray cow crossing the road. No, this was not open range. This cow somehow went on a joy trot. She has a couple of friends with her there on the right side of the photo.

We made a pit stop at a turnout where this sign was posted.

You can see the river just above the tree line in the image below.

Population is sparse in this part of Idaho, but there is still plenty of interesting historical tid-bits to tell about. Take Mackay, for instance (pronounced "Mackie").

Imagine starting your day in this small town on Friday, October 28, 1983. Buckle up, because the Borah Peak earthquake will occur at 8:06 am MDT. It measured 6.9 on the moment magnitude scale. The Challis-Mackay region experienced significant damage. Eleven commercial buildings and 39 homes sustained major damage. Another 200 houses were damaged, minor to moderately. Chickens were running all through the streets. Mackay experienced the most severe damage. Most of the city's large buildings on its Main Street were damaged, to some extent; eight of these buildings were deemed condemned and closed down. Most of these buildings were built from materials such as brick, concrete block, and stone, each varying. You can read more about it and see some pictures in this news article.

Moving on, some cinder cones on the horizon reminded us of the volcanic activity in this area.

As we passed through Arco, we were near Craters of the Moon National Monument. You can read about the park and our visit from a few years ago at this old blog post. But that's not the only reason Arco is significant in Idaho's history.

Arco was the first community in the world ever to be lit by electricity generated solely by nuclear power. This occurred for about an hour on July 17, 1955, powered by Argonne National Laboratory’s BORAX-III reactor at the nearby National Reactor Testing Station (NRTS), now the Idaho National Laboratory. NRTS made further history on January 3, 1961, when the SL-1 reactor was destroyed through an operator maintenance error, with the ensuing steam explosion causing the deaths of all three personnel present. It was the world's first and the United States' only fatal reactor accident.

Farther down the road, we entered the near 900 square mile boundary of Idaho National Laboratory.

You can see some of the structures off in the distance.

You can read about the history of the Idaho National Laboratory at its Wikipedia page right here. Quoting the article, "[m]uch of current knowledge about how nuclear reactors behave and misbehave was discovered at what is now Idaho National Laboratory. John Grossenbacher, former INL director, said, 'The history of nuclear energy for peaceful application has principally been written in Idaho'." 

We stopped at a rest stop when we reached Dubois, Idaho. There, I found this sign summarizing some of the work that has occurred there.

Also inside the rest area was this sign. It gives me an opportunity to show you where in Idaho we were located. From here, we headed almost due north on I-15.

And Dubois has its own history. Here are some relevant portions from yet another nearby sign.

It's also the site of the Nez Perce War. You can read more about the war right here.

The Interstate parallels the old highway (I forget the number). Along the way some old unused structures are present.

We crossed the Continental Divide at the Montana state line.

We're staying at a comfortable RV park in Dillon, but Bannack State Park is the object of our interest here. We'll be heading over there later this morning.

We had dinner out last night...our first restaurant food this trip. We were in the mood. We left Sadie enjoying the warm afternoon on her catio.

When we returned, Smitty joined us while we sat outside for a bit.

This morning, I awakened to the sound of cows mooing. This is the view from our table as I write this post.

We have three nights here (two, now). We'll check out the state park, and then just relax. We'll need to do some grocery shopping and some laundry, and not much else. 

Just yesterday I worked on my slow-stitching project for the first time. We've been so busy driving and sight-seeing, it's been far from my mind. Now I have it out, so it's no more out of sight, out of mind. Mike is still sleeping as I'm finishing up here. Seems like a good time to get in some more stitching.


Barbara said...

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. ~ Norman Maclean

M. Hair said...

I read your blog everyday but don't comment. I just wanted to thank you for taking me (us) along on your trip. I like seeing parts of this country that I will never travel to. Safe travels.

Jenny said...

You always find so many interesting things to write about. I'm sure those abandoned homesteads would all have a tale to tell. So interesting to read about the lava tubes fitted out as a nuclear shelter.

Lee said...

Enjoy your trip and thank you for sharing!

piecefulwendy said...

Enjoy your days of relaxation, you've been making good progress on your trip!

Magpie's Mumblings said...

You know how much I enjoy seeing the wonderful old barns and other structures, so I thank you for those.
I find it so interesting to see the changes in the landscape from one day to the next in your trip.

Susan said...

I enjoy your travelogues and seeing the places you visit.

SJSM said...

I had no idea of nuclear power in Idaho. That and the CD shelter was new. I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. We were stationed at an old missile silo in Virginia. As a second grade student even I could feel the tension as we went through drills at school and feel the atmosphere back at the station as our parents went about their daily work and tried to create a calm atmosphere for the kids. Epic fail.

Our CD shelter was at the missile silo deep under ground. I was only in there once but amazed at the elevators taking one down.