Next stop on our journey was Billings, Montana, the largest city in the state, and base camp for our visit to Little Big Horn (60 miles south). Montana was also a check on our bucket list to visit all 50 states (number 49 to be precise).
Montana is a lot of wide-open spaces and surprisingly lots of oil wells. The Williston Basin of Montana and North Dakota holds one of the largest accumulations of crude oil in the United States; its Bakken and Three Forks formations are currently estimated to be capable of producing 7.4 billion barrels of oil.
Always fascinated by the story of Custer and the battle of Little Bighorn a critical point in the history of the west as the expansion of our young country ran headlong into the nomadic lifestyle of the Plains Indians.
Never realized that Custer’s troops were only one of three units in a planned attack that lasted several days. Several Indian tribes took part as they executed a perfect trap in a stand to preserve their lands and way of life.
The Famous Sitting Bull was one of the Indian leaders.
The monument serves as a detailed remembrance of the event for both sides.
We also visited the Moss Mansion in Billings that belonged to one of the founders of the town. It is very well preserved because it stayed in the family for more than 100 years.
Just outside of Billings headed east is another national monument.
Most graffiti is unwelcomed, but the carvings of Lewis & Clark who stopped at this large sandstone rock beside the Yellowstone River…well. that’s another story.
Lewis & Clark, along with Sacagawea, were the intrepid explorers, as you may remember, who first mapped the United States all the way to the Pacific Ocean (in Oregon).
As the sun set, we headed to the last state on our bucket list, North Dakota.
Next Up: Theodore Roosevelt National Park
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Richard Allan Jones is the author of the novels “Drafted” and “Identity Check.”