Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fairview Montana - Sugar Beet Capital

Fairview, Montana 59221

Sunday we left Miles City, MT to take pictures of 15 Post Offices.  We took pictures of 12 of them.  Saturday it snowed.  Not deep, not blizzarding.  But sections of the road we traveled were icy stretches that even made our  all wheel drive - Equinox shudder and slide.

My husband is a very experienced driver. (He used to be a long haul truck driver.)  There were sections that were not plowed and took longer to get across, and now the days have begun to get shorter and our trips a little longer.

Last Sunday we traveled approximately 750 miles.  Did I mention I'm not yet ready for the snow and ice.  Oh well I live in Montana and no one has put me in charge of the weather.  So on with the story.  One of the Post Office pictures we took is in Fairview, Montana.  Right now this community is experiencing an oil boom (Bakken Oil fields).  Every available room is rented and then some.

Fairview has experienced Boom and Bust cycles before and probably will again.  It is known as the sugar beet capital of both Montana and North Dakota.  There is even a monument to the sugar beet in town.

Fairview is Montana's most easternmost town; it is also North Dakota's most western town.  Yep, the town belongs to two states.  There are other communities with similar dual personalities.  But this one belongs to Montana.  Most of the town, including the Post Office sits on the Montana side. (No sales tax).  Interstate Avenue or State Street as it is locally called is the dividing line.

Near Fairview, Montana there are two rare bridges.  The Fairview Lift Bridge is located 3.5 miles east of Fairview in North Dakota and the Snowden Lift Bridge is about 10 miles north of Fairview.  The bridges construction began in 1912.  In 1997 the Fairview Lift Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fort Buford was home to the 10th Cavalry - often known by their nickname - the Buffalo Soldiers. "Many workmen on the construction job were Negroes from old Fort Buford or farther south. They suffered from the cold that first winter of 1912-1913. Stories are told of deaths of workers who fell from the span of the bridge into the open water at the site and drowned in spite of rescue efforts"  Sidney Herald Nov 27, 2009  

The lift bridges were built to accommodate the steamboats. The bridge was connected to the railroad that made the need for the steamboats obsolete.    Fairview Montana is a place of hidden historical caches.  Perhaps it would be better to describe it as a survivor of historical irony.

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  1. I didn't know that cities were sometimes shared by states. I wonder how much conflict surfaces because of that? Thanks for the history again. I actually knew some about Fort Buford because of the Buffalo soldiers. I hope you will be safe in your travels, and not hindered too much by the weather! It is here, isn't it?

  2. Thank you. Fort Union was also close by and Mondak. All places with lots of history.

  3. One of these days I'm going to have to visit Montana! You have become my favorite travel guide! My question , though, is why you set out to take pictures of 15 post offices. What did I miss in a previous post?

  4. I just learned about the Bakken Oil Fields from watching the first episode of "Rock Center." Did you see the piece Harry Smith did on it? If not, it's worth going online and watching. Fascinating.

    I'm not ready for the snow and ice either. We already had snow about nine or ten days ago. Strange.

  5. Late last summer I posted a picture of the Brusett Post Office (near where my sister-in-law lives). A friend suggested we take pictures of all of Montana's Post Offices. I told Dan and he thought it was a good idea. We have now taken over 150 photos of Post offices in Montana since the middle of July. Montana has over 400 active PO's with 85 on the probable closing list.

    Sadly this means that for some people the next post office is another 50-100 miles away.

  6. Postmarks from MontanaNovember 8, 2011 at 9:22 AM

    I happened to make the drive from Fairview to Billings on Saturday night. It was a white-knuckle drive most of the way, even in 4WD!
    Both of the lift bridges that you mentioned are well worth a visit. The Snowden Bridge was a combination highway/railroad bridge until about 1985, when a new bridge was built across the Missouri River north of Fairview. I remember driving across the Snowden Bridge several times in the early 1980's. The approach from the south was always a bit nerve-wracking as it was difficult to see if the rails were clear to the north. There were stop lights present on either side, but I didn't completely trust them. Once on the bridge, I did certainly didn't linger. No stopping for pictures, unfortunately. Today, it possible to see the old "highway" ramp leading up to the tracks, but it's quite overgrown with weeds. The Fairview Bridge also served as a combination highway/railroad bridge many years ago. I have a friend who remembers crossing the bridge as a child in the early 1950's. Apparently there was a manned guardhouse at that bridge & the guard manually operated the stoplights. Today, neither vehicles or trains cross the bridge; it is part of a park along the Yellowstone River. The bridge can be crossed by pedestrians; just across the river is the only railroad tunnel in North Dakota. It's possible to walk through the tunnel, if so desired.

  7. I enjoy reading your posts. It's a nice breath of fresh air from city life!

  8. What a nice bit of history. We just had our first flakes of snow today in SW Michigan...brr, made my daughter smile though :)


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