This spot in God’s Country has always been a cross roads of trails. The Ancient Indian trail up the Blackfoot River (known as Cokahlarishkit, as Lewis rendered it, or “the River of the Road to Buffaloe,” better transcribed as Qoq’áax ‘í skit and translated as “buffalo road”) was the “Interstate Highway” serving travelers from today’s Idaho, and Bitterroot/Clark Fork valleys. “Business” loops went to various hunting-gathering sites along the way. 

Here in modern Seeley Lake, ancient trails went four directions before being “discovered” by explorers. The Jocko Trail came from the west splitting towards Woodworth, Cottonwood Lakes and Pyramid Pass. Old Indian Trails went up the valley and Morrell Creek to the Swan Valley. During Pioneer times, routes to Missoula, up Rice Ridge, to Morrell Mountain, Archibald/Mount Henry were added. Early day Forest management and pioneer subsistence depended on trails as access to the back country (it was all pretty much back country then.)

Wagon roads often used the old Indian routes. After WWII, the social and political environment turned to developing our wildlands. During the 1950s and 60s the Government attitude was any place they could build a road negated any need for a trail. That was still pretty much the corporate attitude through the mid ‘70s. But in the late ‘70s – early ‘80s it turned more toward regarding trails as a recreation resource rather than a transportation facility. One of the Forest Service trail priorities was to connect them to communities.

As one trammeled through the forest 30 years ago it would be noticed that several trails weren’t on the maps: e.g., Rice Ridge, Richmond Peak, upper Morrell Creek, Trail Creek, Morrell Mountain, Devil’s Basin (Crescent Lake), Boles Creek, Mt. Henry, Dinah to Reservation Divide, West Fork Clearwater, Blackfoot Divide, Nome Peak, Young's Mountain, plus some in the wilderness. Since then several of them to the F.S. trail inventory map to show what was there. A few of them were added to the Forest map on recent revisions.

In the late 1990s, the Chamber of Commerce had cohersed the County Planning Department to make a map showing a trail around Seeley Lake. Their main interest was to show a connection between town and the campgrounds. Plans were on the drawing board to reconstruct highway 83 through the village. With a little cajoling, county surveyor Horace Brown at a stroke of the pen added a pathway along the highway, eventually planned to go to Double Arrow Road. 

After that it was several user-made and prominent game trails in the area were noticed that could easily be connected to offer some loops and side trail opportunities. The Community Council began expanding our town pathway and trail system. The Forest Service was kind enough to make a map and Lisa Blackburn added the “Connecting the Community” tag to the system.

The bylaws of the Council had a line in it something like “benefiting the community,” so they figured that gave them the authority to seek grants to begin improving the network. One of the restrictions of the grants was that no new trails could be built on National Forest land. So they interpreted that to mean any place where people or animals had wore a hole in the vegetation was an existing trail. Their basic strategy was to start on Boy Scout Road at Highway 83 and work clockwise around the lake. They received three grants to improve the trail almost to Deer Creek. It was good enough for the Forest Service to let a contract to gravel it from Lars Kramen to Seeley Lake Campground.

Later the Council started hearing from parents that there were “too many Dodges to dodge” on the Airport Road to allow kids to walk or bicycle on it.  The County Road Engineer agreed to facilitate development of a pathway from the airport to the high school. The County and State began filling low places with material they cleaned from ditches, much of which was from the Salmon Lake hillside unraveling. The County installed several culverts in driveways to allow the trail on the north side of the road at the Fly Inn Subdivision area. Telephone and TV cables were reburied at a critical point near the Lutheran Church. The Community Council received a couple grants for equipment work to level the fill, cut off some high points and do some weed control. A couple years ago the ATV Club received a grant to gravel the stretch from top of High School Hill to Morrell Creek. The Airport Road pathway project has been stalled because the County has declared a moratorium on piece meal work, wanting it to be finished all at once. 

A major blow for the Council getting more trail and pathway work in the community came 3 or 4 years ago when it was determined the community councils did not have the legal standing to assume contract obligations. Grants are considered a contract obligation.  That means getting new money for work is very difficult for the Community Council. 

At a meeting about three years ago, discussion was directed to how could the Connecting The Community trail program continue with the financial constraints. One suggestion was to form a non-profit corporation to become eligible for grants. That prospect met with some reluctance because there was already several non-profits with the potential for receive grants for trail work. Rather than a new non-profit, the consensus was to gain stronger collaboration between existing groups, even expanding to include adjacent communities. After that the current “Seeley Lake Trails Project” coordinated by the Clearwater Resource Council began to gel.

The importance of trails and pathways for “Connecting The Community” is recognized.  That includes within the business and residential area as well as connecting to the surrounding public lands and other communities. 

Over the past 15 years quite a bit of progress has been made on the community trails and pathways, but more work is needed. The northwest segment of the 13-mile “Around The Lake” trail is on the roadway and needs constructed along the road. The highway crossing at Auggie Creek needs relocated farther south to a place with better sight distance. The return loop of the trail behind the Community Hall needs improvement. Perhaps the most important need to complete the Airport Road pathway between Frontier Drive and top of High School Hill.

Community volunteers and contributions have been the foundation for accomplishing the existing “Connecting The Community” trail and pathway system. Community involvement will be essential for further development of recreational routes in the community and valley.


​The Ancient Babylonians.

The original New Year was celebrated with a festival known as Akitu. It lasted 11 days and included many rituals. These included sacrifices by the king and songs celebrating the Babylonians’ many gods. Akitu didn’t cease until well into the ADs., eventually being replaced by oddly-shaped glasses shaped like the next year's numerals.

In Babylonia, the new year didn't start with present day January. The first appearance of the new moon after the Spring Equinox characterized the time to usher in the New Year. The beginning of the planting season for crops or the blossoming of flowers and other plants. According to the legends, the annual ritual enactment was performed for the reasons of bringing macrocosm and microcosm, heaven and earth, back into proper relationship and harmonization.

Babylon is the most famous city from ancient Mesopotamia whose ruins lie in modern-day Iraq 59 miles  southwest of Baghdad.

The Babylonians had many festivals and feasts. Probably the most important of these was the New Year's Festival. The festival happened in the first eleven days of the month. The Babylonian Akitu festival has played a pivotal role in the development of theories of religion, myth and ritual, yet the purpose of the festival remains a point of contention among both historians of religion and Assyriologists.

On the first five days of the New Year's Festival there were many ceremonies of purification. These culminated when on the fifth day the King was taken, by the High Priest, to Marduk in the Temple of Esagila. The King had his insignia removed and he was then accused of crimes against the city of Babylon. The King was hit and then was forced to kneel and plead his innocence. The King then had his insignia restored.

On the sixth day the statue of Nabu was taken from his temple in Borsippa, about ten miles from Babylon, and brought to his father's, Marduk's temple in Babylon.

The tenth day was the great climax to the celebration. Marduk, Nabu and many other gods assembled and went, by river and road, to a place called the Akitu house. Here a ceremonial battle took place showing Marduk overcoming the forces of evil. The gods then returned to the temple of Esagila.

Happy New Year. Eat 12 grapes and wear green underwear to ensure health and well-being for 2019.


The photo Published in the November 16, 1989 Pathfinder shows several of our young pioneers celebrating Montana'a Centennial.

Five years later, Seeley's C.B. Rich and Ovando's Howard Copenhaver were key participants in the Montana Centennial Train

The Montana Centennial Train of 1964 has been called Montana’s biggest publicity stunt.

Twenty-five railroad cars and more than 300 passengers who shelled out $500 apiece to ride the train.

Thirty-one days of riding the rails through 18 states to Long Island, N.Y., and back.

Some 150 panels of massive Western murals, painted for the sides of the rail cars over a period of eight months by Lyman Rice and assistant Bud Wert.

A million dollars in gold, silver and other native gems for display to the world at the 18-month World’s Fair.

“Free” publicity to the tune of an estimated 18,000 column inches of news copy, read by more than 17 million people, a TV audience of 37 million, and personal contacts with more than three million Americans through parades, luncheons, banquets, art and wildlife exhibits, etc.

“What started out as a one-man show has involved literally thousands who have contributed time and money to show their love, loyalty and respect for this broad, buxom Big Sky Country,” wrote Howard Kelsey, the dude rancher and outfitter from Gallatin Gateway who was the instigator and became director of the Montana Centennial Train and World’s Fair exhibit.

One Montana governor, Tim Babcock, was on board for parts of the trip and there were two future ones – Tom Judge, director of special events, and a 20-year-old Morstein (Martz), just back from the speed skating competition at the ’64 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria.

Seventy-five horses and mules were along to step high and pull hard in parades at each of the 16 stops along the way, trained through the winter at the fairgrounds and around the streets of Missoula.

There were millions of memories and stories made, most that have improved with age, like fine wine or the Old Yellowstone whiskey that flowed freely on the train.

Oh, and one appearance on “Candid Camera,” with Allen Funt and Durwood Kirby.

That’s a Howie Fly tale. It had to do with salmonella, a railroad station restroom in Pittsburgh, TV cameras hidden behind a screen, and a bar of soap that turned out to be a very breakable egg.

Fly, of Ovando, was a high school classmate of Kitty Ann Quigley in Deer Lodge, a protégé of Copenhaver, and one of five wranglers for the horse and mule strings on the train.

Because they could, the cowpokes in the Montana party like Quigley and Fly walked the streets of Chicago and New York with six-shooters on their hips.

“I wore mine daily,” Taaler said.

“Mine were loaded, but I didn’t tell anybody,” Fly admitted.

Because he could, Montana-born trick roper and rider Owen Mickels, aka Montie Montana, rode the elevator and performed on stage at the banquet hall in New York’s Commodore Hotel on April 23 with Rex, his rubber-shoed paint horse.

Montana was the 41st state to be admitted into the Union on November 8, 1889.

For sixty years prior to establishment of the Territory of Montana in 1864, seven different territories of the western United States governed the area that was to become Montana. The portion of Montana located east of the Continental Divide belonged to Louisiana Territory (purchased from France in 1803), Missouri Territory (1812-1821), the so-called “Indian Country” (1821-1854), Nebraska Territory (1854-1861), and Dakota Territory (1861-1863).

The western portion acquired from Great Britain in 1846 belonged to Oregon (1848-1853) and Washington (1853-1863) Territories until the entire future state was included in Idaho Territory in 1863.

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