I have been to Montana a lot growing up and the places you are in the most tend to be the ones you take for granted the most. On this visit though I was presented with the chance to take a little drive through three small towns that my dad was familiar with growing up and he wanted to see what they were like today. Those towns were Molt, Rapelje, and Columbus. These towns, as my dad described, were in their prime in the 60s as mining towns and have since dried up a bit(though Columbus still seems fairly large).
We started with Molt, which has a population of almost 600, but it doesn’t seem that way when you see the town. Likely this number was from the farms that surrounded it mostly.
I love the aesthetic of smalltown, USA and this captures it pretty well. There was only one hardware store/diner and it was sadly closed when we were there.
There was also the old grain elevator which looked like they still got some use today.
After Molt we headed on the road to Rapelje where we spotted some deer in the wheat fields.
There was a few deer in the field and watching them bob up and down as they jumped through the wheat was so smooth.
Rapelje was only moderately larger than Molt and provided a lot of the same aesthetic with the wheat elevators but also a bit more in the way of older buildings.
The road from Rapelje to Columbus was empty besides horses and cows on the side of the road and the occasional farmer.
When we were in Columbus, which is a much larger town of nearly 2,000 people, my dad couldn’t stop reminding me how he used to date the blonde daughter of the dealership owner, whose name he couldn’t remember. We ended up stopping in the Atlas bar. You can find out its long history here.
This bar had so much taxidermy I’m pretty sure I could have started a zombie animal army.
There was also a head of a two headed cow, which is apparently not that uncommon.
You could also gamble with the bartender for drinks or to win their prize pool. You roll five dice once a day per person for 50 cents, if you get 5 of a kind you win the money which was at about $600 when I was there. You can also roll against the bartender for your drink. If you win it’s free if you lose it’s double.
I lost and paid $4 so you can already tell this bar will get my full endorsement, here’s it’s Facebook page for more info.
This trip leaving from Billings took about 3 hours with stops for beers and photos. The landscapes were great and it was in parts of the state most people would never think to visit which tend to offer some of the most interesting sights. I think I’ll make this a tradition every time I return and I think everyone should try something similar. Find the most remote/small town you can access and go see what they have to offer.