Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hungry Horse

Just west of West Glacier is the tiny town of Hungry Horse. A vague childhood memory prompted me to check out the main attraction in town. Remember, until two weeks ago, I’d never been to Montana. Yet, I have a memory (vague though it is) of Hungry Horse Dam. As we approached Hungry Horse, Paul placed a call to my mom to get the facts. Turns out Mom and Dad visited the dam on their honeymoon some 50-something years ago. Mom suggested that perhaps I’d heard Dad talk about their visit and the name stuck. Could be I heard the story of how the town and dam were named: Two freight horses lost in the severe winter of 1901 were found a month later alive but hungry and nursed back to health. I’m thinking there might have been a photo of it on a wall in my childhood home or in a frequently visited album. Whatever the case, it was time for me to meet this dam live and in person.

President Truman threw the switch to start generating electricity here in 1952. So when my newlywed parents visited this place is was just a few years old. After 57 years, it’s still impressive.

The dam spans 2,115 feet across and stands 564 feet above the south fork of the Flathead River.

It was the 564 feet that most likely kept Mom sitting in the Kaiser when they stopped on their honeymoon visit.

Besides providing electricity to the Pacific Northwest, another big benefit of the dam is the Hungry Horse Reservoir. Surrounded by the Flathead National Forest and the Flathead Range, it’s a gorgeous spot.

With many miles still ahead of us, we headed downstream back to Flathead Lake and called it a long, but very scenic and fun day. For the next couple of days we’ll kick back and take it easy before we hit the road on Friday. Looking at the map, we’re thinking we’ll overnight in Bozeman or Billings. We’ll see. After today, there’s one thing we know about Montana: Distances on maps are much farther than they appear.

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