Friday, August 14, 2015

Hangin' Out in Helena

While in town for my son Cody's deacon ordination, I wanted to check out all that Helena, Montana had to offer.  I've visited many cities in this great state, but this was my very first visit to Helena.

Mt. Helena

Cody, who was spending the summer at a nearby parish, was the perfect tour guide.  My parents, one of my brothers, my daughter Denise, and I all piled into his car for some sightseeing. 

Reeder's Alley entrance

First stop, Mount Helena City Park for an overview of the surrounding town and valley  below.  And a peek at Mt. Helena's summit rising high above the prairie.  I hungrily eyed the trail heading up it's slopes, but only one week post-pin removal surgery, there was no way I was hiking anywhere.

Loved the old brick buildings

On the way up to Mt. Helena Park, we passed by an interesting group of well-worn brick buildings.  Colorful signs hung over some of their doorways and pots of bright flowers lined a wide brick walkway.  It looked so enticing, my family agreed to stop on our way back.

Old-timey sign

The place was called "Reeder's Alley" and I discovered it was the oldest intact piece of the early city.

Brick paved sidewalks

Reeder's Alley was built in the 1870s by a Pennsylvania brick mason named Louis Reeder.  Instead of prospecting, this mason traveled to Helena in search of other business opportunities.  The early gold camp provided many construction projects in need of someone with Reeder's building skills.

Ornate door handle

After several years, Reeder began investing in property and development, and began constructing small brick houses that catered to single miners.  By the year 1884, the large collection of brick buildings nestled along the steep slope of Reeder's Alley were in place.  It was said that some of these miners were able to prospect right outside of their front doors at the foot of the alley.

Door close-up

Today these well-preserved structures give fabulous insight to Helena's early mining days.  All the buildings have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and designated as a historic district.

Historic stone building

And - besides being such great bits of history, these old buildings made wonderful photo subjects!  I lagged behind my family, snapping away at everything that fit in my viewfinder.

The back entrance

Many of the old buildings appeared to have been converted into offices or businesses.  And one, at the very top of the hill, housed a colorful Mexican restaurant.  (A lady walking by informed us it was the best place to eat in town)

Family photo op

The restaurant's large wooden deck had a great view of the city and it's surrounding forested hills.  But it was a bit too early for lunch yet, so my family posed for a group photo, and then moved on.

Downtown Helena pedestrian mall

Next, Cody drove us to Helena's downtown core.  A vibrant place, with many well-maintained brick buildings housing interesting shops and restaurants, we wandered a bit, taking it all in.

Official "selfie spot"

Two city blocks had been closed to autos, and converted into a wide pedestrian mall.  Small areas of grass and flowers, benches, and public art were strategically placed throughout.  One large statue of a cowboy cracking his whip, nicknamed "The Bullwhacker" was prominently placed between buildings. 

Of course I had to try it!

A short distance from this statue, a sign had been stuck onto the pavement proclaiming that very place a "selfie spot."  Apparently this was where to stand if one wished to capture a selfie of themselves and the statue.

Of course, I had to try it out!  Yep - it worked.

Large chess board

We wandered by a gigantic chessboard, complete with all the pieces.  A little entertainment when you're tired of shopping.

Time for wine!

We checked out many of the cute stores lining this pedestrian mall, but my favorite by far was a wonderful little wine shop.  Although I didn't buy anything, I appreciated the funny signs on their shelves - and the A-board they posted outside. 

Hope you enjoyed this quick tour of Helena.  But I'm not quite finished.  Not only a lovely town, Helena also has the distinction of being the state capitol of Montana.  Come along for my next post when I visit it's gorgeous capitol building.

Sharing with:  Through My Lens


  1. Interesting place. I particularly liked Reeder's Alley and it's interesting history; one never hears much about those who went along to do things other than prospecting, but I suppose there must have been a lot of them. "Selfie Spot"? Whatever next?

  2. Love the history, the buildings, that door handle and what a great selfie with the statue. Have a wonderful weekend.

  3. Looks like a great town. Love the selfie spot!
    Fun post!

  4. My first thought - after thinking this is a fun town to explore and photograph - was that Helena does not look big enough to be a state capitol. But Montpelier, Vermont isn't very big either, so I look forward to seeing the capitol part. ;)

  5. Hello Linda, thank you for the wonderful tour of Helena. The Reeder's Alley is a interesting and cute place. I love the selfie with the Bullwhacker. And the Wine O'clock is a cute sign. Great family photo and post. Have a happy weekend!

  6. What a cute town! Looks like they have done an excellent job of preserving its historical charm. The selfie spot is a crack up!

  7. Yes, that selfie spot is perfect. Nice pictures, Linda. I enjoyed the tour of Helena's hot spots. :-)

  8. Linda, what a beautiful town!!! My favourite photos to see are nature and towns...and the shops and buildings in towns, so I really love this post. But then again, I love all your posts. Hope your weekend is great. :)

  9. Not too many people out and about! I enjoyed seeing all the old buildings! :)

  10. I definitely have enjoyed the tour. The town is beautiful. It seems to be quiet and friendly.

  11. Nice series- that door handle is great

  12. Reeder's Alley and the scenery reminded me a bit of areas in Colorado (or maybe I am just missing the Rockies and historical gold mining towns there). Love that door handle!
    Blessings, Aimee

  13. Great looking town, reminded me of our lovely walk through Sioux Falls.

  14. I have been to Montana before, but never Helena...good tour!

  15. What an interesting place. Very quaint. I love your close-up shots. And that gigantic chessboard is awesome!

  16. Old buildings are one of my favorite things to photograph. I love all the old brick buildings and walks. Selfie spot sounds like a good idea. Thanks for the tour, my friend.

  17. Thankyou for the fascinating tour.

  18. Looks like a beautiful day to explore. The town seems so diverse, and yet has that cohesive wild west feel.

  19. Looks like my kind of place, just not into selfies! Tom The Backroads Traveller

  20. It looks like a nice city. And congratulations to your son!

  21. A local guide it always a bonus - and one you are related to is even better.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  22. Thank you for the tour- next time we take a road trip up north we'll have to stop in for a visit.

  23. What a wonderfully quaint place!

  24. This looks like a great place to wander and look.. Fun things everywhere! Really love the old brick buildings and details there at Reeder's Alley.

  25. Very cool - I'd love to visit. Reeders Alley looks awesome.

  26. Great post, great photos! Beautiful scenery, a lovely town and I loved that old door handle.

  27. Interesting tour of a place I know nothing about so its nice to see what it looks like through a camera.

  28. Beautiful! And I love that selfie spot!

  29. Great selfie spot! I have only driven through Montana. Would love to go there some time. Glad you had a good time with family!


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