Click on the photos to enlarge.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Horses and Dinosaur Feces on the Belleview Road

Old homestead on the Belleview Road, Teton County.

The Belleview Road runs from the front range to the town of Choteau (show-toe), Montana. It passes the famous "Egg Mountain" in the Two Medicine formation where curious egg shaped fossils were eventually proven to be actual dinosaur eggs in the nests!

Along the road right of way, there is an area with a rather large number of coprolites or fossilised dinosaur dung.

The brown blobs are the dino leavings

Here's more on coprolites.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

U.S.Astronomical Station at Boundary Bay
Waterton Lake Alberta - Montana

The MV International glides through the Canada / United States boundary on Waterton Lake.

In August of 1874 the U.S. Northern Boundary commission, in the joint effort to demarcate the 49th parallel, reached the final station which would connect via traverse to the station on the continental divide established in 1861. Just a few hundred feet from the bronze monument below (aluminum painted for visibility), the zenith telescope was set up to determine latitude by observing pairs of stars.

The present bronze monument, set in 1909, is thought to have been placed on the exact center of the original rock cairn, but the site has no evidence of rocks scattered about as observed at other "original" monuments. The old 20th century boat dock just south of the swath may well have consumed them.

The 1874 Astronomical Station and nearby triangulation station consist of a collection of rocks on the forest floor, turned often by the bears looking for insects. Evidence of old timber cuttings were found about the site on the ground as well as disturbed earth.

The trail along the west shore of Waterton Lake generally follows the site of the old native trail until reaching the great hill above Bertha Bay. Here the hill & cliffs created an obstacle which could only be passed at a certain point. The modern trail probably coincides with the ancient here, as some pictographs and ochre may be viewed overhead from the trail.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Rierdon Gulch and Hill
Lewis & Clark N.F.

Long, strike faulted limestone ranges dominate the front ranges where the mountains abruptly meet and occasionally override the plains.

We climbed to about 8,300' for this vista looking NW into the interior ranges.

This view looks directly N and shows the steeply tipped strata of the mountains up near Choteau Mountain above Jones Gulch.

Looking S from the site reveals the limestone cliffs meeting the prairie.

Looking east, the backside of Ear Mountain is about 2 miles distant across a vast cirque and just a few hundred feet higher. The top of Ear is very broad and flat, strata tipping down to the S.

Phil's getting some shots

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cracker Lake
Glacier National Park

Carol, Ted & Donna on the trail to Cracker lake

Unbelievably, I had never been to Cracker Lake, the scene of late 19th century mining speculation & partial development. I had viewed this bright blue lake from the summits above, yet had never actually been to the shore.

The weather was mixed showers and wind.

Photos on this post by Phil Kehres.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Blackleaf Canyon
Volcano Reef

Blackleaf Canyon

Blackleaf Canyon is one of the entrances through the Rocky Mountain front. The mtns are steep faulted limestone slabs over riding the praire and running north - south for many miles.

We climbed "Volcano Reef" north of the canyon, which is neither volcanic, nor a reef. There are areas where the rock contains identifiable marine fossils which gave early farmers the idea that it was a reef, instead of the fault blocks.

This is the first range, so the view to the east overlooks the prarie, traditional home of the blackfeet & piegan. The west view looks up Mt Frazier and into the Sawtooths.

Old Man of the Hills 8,225'

The cliffs south of Blackleaf Canyon

Ancient gathered rocks, perhaps a very old vision quest site, looking east toward Mt. Frazier 8,315'.

Looking east over the praire from the site

Taking photos looking out over the praire

Sunday, July 10, 2011

International Boundary Monument Visit
July 6, 2011

We've been very busy. This photo was taken on a trip to view a monument placed around 1903 on the International Boundary. I had observed this site from a distance some years ago during benchmark recovery. The alpine meadow looked so inviting through the binoculars, it deserved a closer examination.

The monument is the 3 part bronze with an interior turnbuckle, & all packed to the site by horse. It is in very good condition, one of the best I've examined.

The hike was beautiful and without difficulty until reaching the north facing slopes which were covered with steep cornices and drifts.

Note: I have decided to redact monument numbers for security reasons.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Homeland Security views this blog

The Department of Homeland Security has taken the time to look at this, presumably due to it's content RE: the International Boundary.

If material is found that may be objectionable, please contact me via the email address on my profile & I will remove it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

American Artist for the Northwest Boundary Survey - James Madison Alden

While the British carried a wet plate (?) camera during the expedition to establish the International Boundary west of the continental divide over the years 1857 - 1861, the Americans sent a painter, James Madison Alden, to create watercolors of the views and the features of the area.

Here Alden is sitting high on the shoulder of Starvation Peak, British Columbia looking at the shore of Kintla Lake, Montana in Glacier National Park. Parke Peak and Kintla Peak are seen as well as Whitefish Range mountains. Mt. Nasukoin 8,100 feet can be seen at the right.

Waterton / Glacier fans will recognise this familiar scene as looking south down Waterton Lake, Alberta. When Alden visited, bison hunting and fishing camps were in the area, probably Kootenai from the Tobacco Plains near Eureka, Montana.

The Yak-in-a-khak trail, the "trail to the buffalo" from the Tobacco Plains to Waterton was already a major Kootenai horse trail, so it got heavily used by the International Boundary survey.

This is looking down the Yak-in-a-khak trail across the North Fork of the Flathead River, today's Trail Creek road. Long Knife, Starvation and King Edward peaks are in the background. The trail in the foreground confirms written accounts of of it being heavily used at this time.

After crossing the Flathead river, the trail enters Glacier Park just south of the Kishenehn Patrol Cabin, ascends Kishenehn Creek and crosses the International Boundary in about 4 miles.

Glacier Park's Thomas Jefferson

I believe that this photo of Thomas Jefferson is from around the time he was packing for the International Boundary survey, probably 1903. He would have been about 60 years old at that time.

Jefferson Pass in Glacier National Park bears his name. If there ever was a trail over Jefferson Pass, all traces of it are long gone.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Medicine Hill, Two Medicine area - Glacier National Park

Click for the big one.

This is a panorama taken from location of the former triangulation station "MEDICINE", now gone missing, elevation 8,446. The marker that remains is from an earlier survey probably ca. 1902-3.

The station was perhaps named by the surveyors to honor a rather unusual cultural feature found nearby, in plain sight, which is thought to be of considerable age. The large cairn found on the ridge a bit farther towards Mt. Henry is probably covering the "Azimuth Mark" for the triangulation station, a simple method of determining instrument accuracy.


Write me if you desire more details. This is perhaps the worst kept secret in Glacier, but it serves as an excellent educational tool to show how subtle, and how fragile, the clues to the past actually are.

This scene is just down the ridge about 1,200 ft. vertical from triangulation station "Medicine". It's proximity to the NPS trail has enabled the unwitting visitors to disturb surface features as to render them useless, except I suppose to point out as the "bad example".

Repeat Photography at the 4 Way Corner

Click on these shots for the larger scene.

These old photos were taken by the British surveyors during the establishment of the International Boundary at the 49th parallel of latitude in July of 1861, hence the Union Jack seen fluttering in the long exposure. I shot the repeat digitals in July of 2007.

The cairn is a preliminary determination by the Brits. The American team arrived some time later and using similar methods, determined the spot to be 36 feet north of the British cairn. According to treaty, the difference was split and the final large cairn was constructed 18 feet north.

Today's climbers marvel at the effort and care it must have taken to transport an enormous camera w/ wet plates, tent, chemicals, up the knife edge between Wall and Forum Lakes, approaching Class III terrain at times, to reach this remote spot and then return via the same route.

The American's didn't have a camera, so they sent an artist instead - James Madison Alden. I'll post some of his watercolors soon.

This is the official stone cairn which stood for 40 years. Here it is being examined by a rodsman just prior to demolition to determine the exact center point.

Two 19th century boundary survey expeditions ended at this station. The Interprovincial Boundary expedition started at this spot while marking the boundary between Alberta & B.C. during the early 20th century.

National Park Service Web Page

Introduction to Native American Units

This is an interesting NPS page about the first inhabitants of Glacier National Park.

The oldest non-native american archaeological site in Glacier National Park.

This site marks the continental divide and the determined location of the 49th parallel in 1861. The large cairn was demolished in 1901 in preparation for the recovery and placement of the bronze (aluminum paint for visibility) monuments. Long Knife Mtn. and the "ballpark" can be seen in the background, Kintla Lake hidden by foliage. Click photo for larger view.