Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Confederate Gulch

 Canyon Ferry Lake, Montana

 There aren't many big lakes in Montana. We've been camping on Canyon Ferry Lake, which was formed when the Missouri River was dammed up near Helena.  We traveled around the lake yesterday and saw a large number of lovely campgrounds that had been created by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation (which neither of us had ever heard of before yesterday.



The Missouri River officially starts at the confluence of the Jefferson and Madison in Missouri Headwaters State Park near Three Forks, Montana, and is joined by the Gallatin a mile downstream. The Missouri then passes through Canyon Ferry Lake,  west of the Big Belt Mountains. The river flows northeast to the city of Great Falls, where it drops over the Great Falls of the Missouri, a series of five waterfalls. It then winds east through a scenic region of canyons and badlands known as the Missouri Breaks.
 

 We went into Helena yesterday to see Brad Pitt in "World War Z", which we both thought was a passable Zombie movie. These were the fast-moving type Zombies. which are always more exciting than the slow, shambling Zombies.....but even if you shoot these in the head and burn them to a crisp, they still wiggle their fingers.....


We also saw "Big Medicine" or what was left of him at the Montana Historical Museum....he was the one in five million "white buffalo" born in 1933 and died in 1958...he was stuffed...at the time of his birth much was made of the portent....



So where were we?....Oh Yeah....Confederate Gulch....


 After the Confederate Army invaded Missouri from Arkansas, it disintegrated into a number of smaller dangerous bands like the James brothers and Cantrell's Raiders. Fighting them was a very dangerous business so the Union general in charge offered them a parole in 1864 if they would cease fighting and go northwest  up into Montana.....usually by riverboat....Confederate Gulch was formed by a small creek that now flows down into Canyon Ferry Lake. Four Confederate soldiers discovered in the gulch the richest per acre gold find ever recorded. At one point a single pan of gravel yielded seven pounds of gold worth $1,400 at $20 per ounce. There were descriptions of unguarded nail kegs full of gold and sluices made inoperable by being clogged with gold dust.


The gravel in the creek bed was eight to forty feet thick and about half gleaming gold dust and nuggets. Efforts to locate the mother lode were largely unsuccessful. Today the gulch is very quiet. It was once the largest town in Montana with about 10,000 miners. Today only a few timbers remain.
The picture below shows the intersection of Ambush Lane and Confederate Gulch Road....





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