Hidden History on the border
People drive by the state’s only railroad tunnel and don’t even know it. It’s hidden history on the border. That last couple miles on Highway 200 headed into Montana takes people alongside a quarter-mile long tunnel, hidden from view.
Then, they pop over the hills and if they’re observant, looking south, they’ll see the state’s only liftbridge.
Once a year they can’t miss it. The annual Lighting of the Bridge paints the bridge with spotlights and fireworks.
That’s why we went there on November 12 — the annual Lighting of the Bridge. (It was on the regional events calendar. )
Fairview Lights the Bridge
The Christmas season is initiated with Santa, horse-drawn wagon rides, hot chocolate, chili and of course Santa and his beautiful happy wife.
The bridge is on full display, thanks to a set of spotlights set up for the evening.
We parked at the end of the bridge, about a half hour before the start of the festivities just so we could scope out a good site to shoot the fireworks.
Like dozens of others, we hiked across the bridge. Along the way are benches and “bump-outs” where people like to sit and watch the Yellowstone River flow beneath.
Chunks of ice were bumping into the shoreline and the piers headed a few more miles to the confluence with the Missouri River, about 15 miles away.
When Fairview lights the bridge, the intricate steelwork above is seen like no other time. We like to study the way it all fits together. We identify the section of bridge that is cabled to the machinery on top that would have been used if the bridge were to have become a functioning lift bridge.
Go here to read the strange history of why it did not get used after it was built.
Unlike dozens of others who went into the tunnel, we climbed the hill above it on the east end of the bridge.
We picked out our spot, we walked back down where we met Roy Trumpower. He’s the energy behind the “Save the Tunnel” effort and is a member of the “Fairview Friends of the Bridge.” When Fairview lights the bridge, he’s there to see that it happens. He shared the credit for the event with the half-dozen others who help promote the Fairview Lift Bridge and the Cartwright Tunnel. If the two landmarks stay open to visitors, it’s the group he works with that will get the credit.
At the bottom of the hill, we found a long line of families and children waiting to ride the horse-drawn wagon.
The line wound past the food table and the singer.
Then at 7:00 Mountain Time we were in place on the spot we’d scoped out. The fireworks were the hit of the evening.
(Want to see and hear it? You’ll find the link down below.)
A half-hour later, the crowds began to head home.
It’s estimated a thousand people from Montana and North Dakota were laughing and smiling at the christening of the 2017 Christmas season.
The next day, we returned to be greeted by the talisman of the bridge.
But, that’s another story.
Do you know about the metal sculpture we call a talisman at the east end of the bridge?
Turn it up! Here’s the video!