Thursday, May 27, 1993...

A long day on the road, but I made excellent time. Starting from Mobridge, I reached Helena, Montana, 650 miles away, in just over 13 hours, aided considerably by the near-total absence of any reason to stop along the way. The morning highlight was the Petrified Wood Park in Lemmon, SD. During the Depression, a local amateur geologist filled a square block of downtown Lemmon with over 100 cone-shaped pyramids and piles of "cannonballs," all made from petrified wood found in the region. The Lemmon Chamber of Commerce occupies the adjacent building, which used to be a petrified-wood gas station.

Petrified wood gas station, Lemmon, SD

The rest of South Dakota, and most of North Dakota, was undistinguished rangeland. Six or seven miles east of Montana the scenery turned into rugged near-badlands, with heavily eroded buttes and small streams; it stayed that way for the next hundred miles. The morning's other excitement came when I disregarded the "Next Gas: 82 Miles" sign, confident that I could make Miles City without refueling; I did, but when the tank showed Empty 20 miles east of town I began coasting whenever I could. Probably had about 2/10 gallon left when I stopped...

Hotel, Harlowton, MT

West of Miles City, the road climbs, slowly and gradually, for 200 miles. It's paralleled for over 100 miles by an abandoned railbed -- from the display in front of a locomotive, I'm assuming the railbed belonged to the old electrified Milwaukee Line, on which the last train rolled in 1974. Eventually I reached the mountains, climbing and circling through passes for the final 75 miles to Helena. I arrived in time to check out the (fairly drab) state capitol building and what passes for a downtown before checking in to the motel.

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