Looking across the Helena Valley from the north side of town, ca. 1890.



Architect's rendering of the Green Meadow Ranch, ca. 1914. Built by Harry W. Child (1856-1931), former President of the Yellowstone Park Company. The 620-acre spread was located along Green Meadow Drive, just north of the Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds.

The four main buildings (house, barn, blacksmith shop and granary) were designed in a romantic Swiss chalet style by Robert Reamer (1873-1938). Reamer is best known as the architect of the rusitc Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park.

In 1887, Harry W. Child made a financial killing in the purchase and resale of the land that would become the Green Meadow Ranch. Acting as trustee for a consortium of Northern Pacific Railway executives and others, Child purchased the 620 acres for $62,000 in May and June of 1887. It was sold in August to the St. Paul and Helena Land and Improvement Company for $250,000.

In 1914, Child bought back the Green Meadow Ranch (under his wife's name) for an unknown amount. He contracted with Old Faithful Inn architect Robert Reamer to design the main structures.

The showplace barn was 450' long, and 40' high. It was constructed of heavy hand-hewn timbers; the window-frames were hand-carved with fanciful designs featuring horses heads, birds, etc. The barn had three cross-passageways, large enough to drive a team and wagon through. It had three lofts, one of which was sometimes used for dancing.

The residence burned to the ground in 1924, as did the barn in 1956 -- with the loss of twenty head of prize stock. The last owner of the Ranch was Black Angus breeder W. J. Harrer, who sold the land in the 1970s. It has since been subdivided. Harrer and his wife were major benefactors of Helena's Grandstreet Theatre.

For more about the remarkable career of Harry W. Child, visit here.



Dennis Dickert has kindly sent in two wonderful photos of the Dickert Dairy operation, which was in the Helena Valley. He writes:

Attached are two photos related to the Dickert Dairy. The panorama was
taken in 1939 and includes a 1939 small panel truck and a 1937 large panel
truck. the second image is a close up of the 1937 truck taken in May 1938.

The site of the Dickert Dairy was purchased by Fred Dickert in 1912 and
operation started shortly thereafter. The dairy was in operation as
Dickert Dairy until 1944 and then became part of McHugh's Clover Leaf

The panorama was taken from the east side of the current Helberg Drive
facing somewhat northwest and shows the original house, power plant, milk
barn and other out buildings located on the west side of Helberg Drive.
Helberg Drive can just be seen behind the milk trucks. The closest
building to the camera, a three stall garage, is still on the site as are
some of the loafing sheds in the distance.

We are pleased to have returned this property to Dickert Family ownership.
It now includes a newer home, barn and outbuildings as well as 80 acres
which is half of the original site.

Panorama of the Dickert Dairy, 1939. CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE


Recent satellite photo of the Dickert property, in the same orientation as the panorama. The 3-stall garage and sheds are still recognizable.

Dickert Dairy 1937 model panel truck, 1938.



This building, at the NE corner of N. Montana Ave. and Sierra Rd. E, is no longer standing. In the 1950s-60s, it was Ehlers' Corner Food Market, operated by Ray Ehlers (1893-1970). It then became Martin's IGA. This photo, showing portions of the old Ehlers' sign, is from the Charleen Spalding Collection. She took it shortly after the Martin's IGA sign came down, as the building was being converted into a restaurant. Thanks, Charleen.


The Masonic Home of Montana, 1940s. Located at 2010 Masonic Home Road. It was dedicated on September 17, 1908 (see souvenir ribbon below). At one time, a large collection of Indian arrowheads and other artifacts was on display in a room on the ground floor. Is it still there?


The Masonic Home as it appears today.



Helena's oldest acive cemetery is also the oldest active Jewish cemetery in Montana

The ca. 1910 front (west) gate, Home of Peace Cemetery

Home of Peace Cemetery is located near the west side of Capital High School, south of Custer Avenue, close to the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds. Home of Peace was founded in 1867 by Helena's Hebrew Benevolent Society.

The Jews who settled in early-day Helena were primarily from Prussia or Germany and practiced Reform Judaism. They were prominent in trade during Helena's beginning, and were held in high esteem by the gentile community. Jews easily partnered with non-Jews in building and rebuilding the fledgling city. The Montana Club and the various Masonic orders in Helena welcomed Jews as members. Such easygoing integration was not the case in other Montana cities of the era.

On July 11, 1867 Helena's Hebrew Benevolent Society began steps to acquire a plot of land for use as a cemetery. Prior to establishing Home of Peace, Jews were buried along with everyone else in the City Cemetery, which occupied the site where Central School is today. The bodies of those pioneer Jews were later reburied at Home of Peace; the others buried there were eventually re-interred at the Benton Avenue Cemetery.

Helena's Jewish population reached its peak in the 1890s. The second generation began to move away for better educational and employment opportunities, and the city's Jewish population began to decline.

There are inscriptions carved into the central pillars of the stone gate shown above. The one on the right (south) reads: "Erected by Morris Sands as a memorial to the sacred memory of his beloved wife Lizzie who departed this life Jan. 9, 1907". The inscription on the north pillar reads: "Erected to the memory of Morris Sands who departed this life Dec. 14, 1910."


A recent satellite image of Home of Peace Cemetery, with east at the top.

A map of Home of Peace, in the same orientation as the satellite image. The structures shown at the bottom left-center are two sheds (a landscaper's shed and a pump house) and a water tower. The water tower was supplied by a well until 1921, when The First Jewish Benevolent and Cemetery Association opted to connect to the City of Helena water supply.

A few early burials are still in place beneath the area designated "Practice Football Field", adjacent to Capital High School, separated from Home of peace by a chain link fence. Some broken tombstones from burials outside the fence have been placed near the base of the water tower.


A view through the gates. The large trees along the driveway were planted in 1910.



Looking east, inside the gates.



The Sands family plot.



Eisbert and Turk markers.



Hirschberg and Loeb markers.



Displaced markers at the base of the water tower.



Looking west at the undeveloped NW section of the cemetery property. This view shows some of the 1867 wrought-iron fence which still surrounds most of the property.

The cemetery is currently administered by The Home of Peace Cemetery Association, 1615 Stuart Street, Helena MT 59601.




This is likely the Porter Brothers Corporation's electric Yuba dredge working the old mine tailings which were north of Custer Ave. and west of N. Montana Avenue. From November of 1935 to August 1943 the dredge worked continuously on the flats. In that time 45,000 ounces of gold were recovered from gravel that averaged 18 to 30 cents per cubic yard. Dredging stopped in 1943 due to the war-time restrictions on gold mining. When this ban was lifted in 1945, the Porter Brothers dredge worked one more season. Total value of the gold from this dredge was reported to be more than $2,500,000.

A color view of the Porter Brothers dredge. Date unknown.


The home of the Capital City Stock Car Racing Association, the quarter-mile banked dirt Valley Speedway opened on May 30, 1955. On that day, 1,850 fans watched Doug Petersen of Helena win the "A Main", and thrilled as Don Moe crashed into the pit separating the track from the grandstand.

In the spring of 2007, what remained of the track was bulldozed and graded flat, as development began on a new subdivision ("Glacier Point").

Two recent satellite images showing
the ghost of the Speedway.


• V I D E O •
1972 footage of motorcycles racing at the Valley Speedway, from the 1973 Helena Chamber of Commerce promotional film

June 2007 photo of housing construction at the site of the Valley Speedway. Photo courtesy of Tom Kilmer, who wrote:

"Here is what has become of the Valley Speedway in Helena,Montana. Another subdivision is
replacing a piece of history. It looks like the entire track is gone now. I watched the heavy equipment level the banked corners. Now the piping for water and sewer is going in."