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Old 07-30-2010, 09:00 AM   #91
scarysharkface
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That bear attack is scary stuff.
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Old 07-30-2010, 09:13 AM   #92
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Helena to Wickes Tunnel



There are several options in this area (by-pass routes, etc). Since I wanted to take in the Wickes Tunnel, my blue line runs an odd loop to make that side trip. In the end, I decided to by-pass a two mile stretch near Lava Mountain that involved poking along an ATV trail with rocks, roots, and erosion. Since it was dry, I'm sure it would not have been a problem, but I skipped the slow speeds and rode over to Wickes instead. If you want to see pix of the two mile stretch at Lava Mountain check this link from my ADV friend tbirdsp.

The Lava Mountain section is near the "X".


Montana Capitol.


This 1876 fire tower was put up after the downtown burned. It was last used in 1931. Towers like these were manned around the clock for fire watch. There used to be many more around town (I think they might have burned down). This is one of five left standing in the US.


In 1864 a guy staked out a claim along a creek and built this great cabin with large glass windows - the first glass windows in Helena. In the 1930s an earthquake stopped the creek from running.




Lime kilns. You dump limestone in the top and let it cook over a pine fire. Eight hours later you take out the powdered lime.


Twenty tons of lime every eight hours. The lime was needed for building with brick and stone.




This guy is placer mining this gulch. He has a big excavation where the creek ran through and is sluicing soil from that excavation to get gold.








I went over to the Wickes Tunnel - about a mile long.


South portal.


Water flows out of the tunnel.


You can see the opening at the other end.


The water at this end is knee deep. You can ride through the tunnel. There is a soft gravel base under the water. A refreshing flow of cool air was coming out of the tunnel.




Riding through knee deep water on soft gravel in a mile long tunnel while solo wasn't in my risk management profile for this trip so I went around.




Superfund site for remediation.






Gulch living.


Some jeepers had been running the tunnel this week. I could have gotten in line with them. It would have been a wet trip as they just creep along through there. The jeepers said the water was headlight deep. A miner from the area said he just walked it and it was knee deep.






I should mentioned that the Wickes Tunnel was used to transport ore from a mine to a smelter.

Just for clarity, here is an annotated map extract that shows the routes. There is a Rimini Alternate that by-passes Helena. There is a Boulder Alternate that by-passes the Lava Mountain Stuff. Big Dog's track is in gray. The main track runs down the middle. My cyan track also includes a loop that takes in Boulder and the Wickes Tunnel as a side trip from the main track. Or, you can follow the track I actually rode that by-passes Lava but takes in Wickes.

Cannonshot screwed with this post 07-31-2010 at 04:21 PM
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Old 07-30-2010, 09:15 AM   #93
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scarysharkface
That bear attack is scary stuff.
I'm glad that doesn't happen very often. That is a campground like I would have stayed in - 27 sites, probably full, well developed.


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Old 07-30-2010, 11:56 AM   #94
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Cannonshot,

Good to see you did your homework on lava Mountain/Fleecer Ridge.
We followed Big Dog's track file and he luckily bypassed it.
We later found the same video of Fleecer Ridge and were glad we didn't go there.
We were on KLR 650's also and enjoyed the ride so much, we did it agian last year.
Great RR!!

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Old 07-30-2010, 02:09 PM   #95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeeU
Cannonshot,

Good to see you did your homework on lava Mountain/Fleecer Ridge.
We followed Big Dog's track file and he luckily bypassed it.
We later found the same video of Fleecer Ridge and were glad we didn't go there.
We were on KLR 650's also and enjoyed the ride so much, we did it agian last year.
Great RR!!

LeeU
I don't think Lava would be that big of a deal. But it would be a delay of game picking through it at a slow speed. I never tipped or dropped the bike on this trip and I didn't feel like I wanted risk breaking anything on it by doing so in the rocks.

We'll have to see what happens with Fleecer.

I can see why people would want to ride parts of this a second time.
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Old 07-30-2010, 02:18 PM   #96
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Comet Ghost Town

After leaving Wickes I headed southwest through a narrow valley and up and over a ridge.








It gets a little steep with loose rock for a while.






We just came up this narrow valley.


Remediation site.






Comet came into being the the development of some mines in the 1870s.


At first, ore was hauled to Wickes for processing.


This mill for processing ore was built in 1927 and ran until the mines were depleted in 1941. There is still one active residence in this town.




They also had to do remediation on this contaminated site.






Looks like an open shaft here.
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Old 07-30-2010, 05:05 PM   #97
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Basin

Despite this good looking river, sadly much of this area is contaminated from mining operations.




The story on these health mines is that they take old gold and uranium mines that have radon gas and have people sit in them for designated periods as a health treatment. Most people I know are trying to avoid radon gas, but apparently this is pretty popular. People come for a week or two and sit in the mine 2-3 times a day until the maximum dose level (designated by the state) is reached. Different mines have different levels of radiation.




I took and up and back run toward Lava to look at some mine stuff. Worthwhile trip.
















Basin got going with the mining in the 1870s. It became a typical mining town with churches, a union hall, hardware store, bakery, livery, blacksmith, several units of harlotry, a dairy barn, a sawmill, and a brewery that produced "Basin Beer".


A waterwheel generator produced electricity. The town had carbon arc streetlights at the intersections.








Thought I'd stop for a tune-up.


They had a menu of services and ads on the wall.


The Basin Mill.






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Old 07-30-2010, 07:03 PM   #98
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Toward Butte



Another one of those cattle paths that eventually morphs into a railroad grade cattle path.




















Before I get started on this next series of pictures, let me point out that I generally report on what I see or encounter along the way. I encountered a coyote that apparently had been poisoned and watched it die from the effects of that poison. It didn't seem like the animal suffered much as the poison causes death via a failure in the central nervous system. This is not intended to start a debate on predator control. I am only reporting on something I encountered and will offer a little information related to what I saw.

As I was running down the road, I stopped to take a picture of this coyote.


She didn't take off like they usually do. Instead I noticed that she was acting sort of strangely and picking up rocks as if she was eating bugs or seeking the moisture under the rocks.


When I first stopped, she seemed in otherwise good condition.


After a while she got a little wobbly in the back legs.


Then she got real wobbly.


Finally she laid down and chewed some stuff and nudged some rocks. She had some thick white saliva coming out of one side of here mouth - probably where she got dosed with the poison.


Shortly thereafter she convulsed a couple of times and died.


Coyotes are the biggest predator for the loss of sheep and goats. On these ranches, there is a war against coyotes. Compound 1080 is legal to use in this region, but the only legal way to dispense it is via a bladder on a collar of the animal being protected. When the coyote bites the animal's neck to kill it, the bladder breaks and coyote gets poisoned. If this compound was dispensed legally, this coyote went to kill a sheep shortly before I came upon it. No debate on 1080 please, just reporting on what I encountered.


It is important to note that coyotes cause a lot of suffering for other animals. Coyotes kill animals for a living. People that raise animals try to protect them. All part of life on the range.
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Old 07-30-2010, 07:21 PM   #99
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Thanks again

Thanks again for a really great ride report. It's even better coming from an Army guy.
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Old 07-30-2010, 09:49 PM   #100
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Wow!


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Old 07-31-2010, 02:15 AM   #101
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bloody good Bryan!
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Old 07-31-2010, 04:34 AM   #102
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So very much IN!
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Old 07-31-2010, 06:02 AM   #103
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Awesome, what a great ride report this is !!
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:01 AM   #104
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UtahJim
Thanks again for a really great ride report. It's even better coming from an Army guy.
Glad you are enjoying it Jim.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Klay
Wow!
Hope some of the railroad stuff entertains you Klay.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaggie
bloody good Bryan!
Glad this is entertaining you this winter down there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by werfugami
So very much IN!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik500
Awesome, what a great ride report this is !!
Thanks for riding along and I'm glad it interests you!
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:25 AM   #105
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Butte



Butte is also home to the US High Altitude Sports Training Center which I did not visit. At 5,500 feet, it is a great place for athletes from around the world to train. They've also held some speed skating championships here.



The Berkely Pit is a former open pit copper mine that is about a mile long, a half mile wide, and 1,800' deep. It has 900' of water that is about the acidity of lemon juice resulting in the stuff being laden with heavy metals that leach from the rock (also arsenic, cadmium, zinc, and sulfuric acid).

The mine was opened in 1955 and closed in 1982. Once the mine was closed, pumps were shut off, and the water rose about a foot a month. Once the water reaches the natural groundwater level in about 10 years it will flow back into it contaminating the groundwater.

A flock of geese once landed here leaving a body count of at least 342. ARCO said they died from some fungus they picked up somewhere else. The state said their insides were lined with burns and festering sores from exposure to the high concentrations of copper, cadmium, and arsenic in the water. In fact, the concentrations are so high that some substances are harvested directly from the water.

There were 74 mines in the district that had shafts that exceeded 1,000 feet. They figure there are about 10,000 miles of underground workings. Enough copper has been taken from here to lay a 4" thick slab of copper over every traffic lane of I-15 extending from Butte to 30 miles south of Salt Lake City.






Butte started up in the 1880s. There were veins of copper here 50' wide and 4,500' long. These wre formed by hot water flowing through and depositing substances into the fractures in the rocks. In 1864 there were a few gold prospecters in the area. By 1917, 91,000 people lived here.


They are still getting copper and molybdenum here.










If you want to peer into the Berkely Pit, pay $2 and you can take a look.


There are a lot of headframes still around.








This brothel ran until 1982.




A memorial to miners killed on the job.




This was a bad disaster. Four electricians went to inspect an electrical cable when one of their carbide lights ignited frayed and oily insulation on the cable by accident.










Butte was known as the Gibralter of Labor. There were nearly 50 unions in town and nearly every trade was unionized. At one point Colonel Omar Bradley had to come to town with the Army to deal with some issues with the Industrial Workers of the World union.

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