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.
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.
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.
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