Day 24 - Cut Bank, MT to Chester, MT 110,3 km (1955,3) 356 alt. (16981)
Dear reader, please check updates of the last two previous posts ... and ... the map shows the added two last days ...The campsite in Cut Bank was nice except for the WiFi ... So in Shelby after about 40 km I decided to check in to a "Subway" because they always have good connections. The ride there was the beginning of something to stay with me for a while: long, straight, warm (getting warmer by the hour and by the day) and - hopefully - dominated by a fairly strong tailwind.
I took wonderful videos to illustrate the atmosphere - I still have to find a way to integrate these into my blog, so meanwhile you'll have to be happy with the pics ...
In Chester I stopped, primarily because the map said they would have all facilities and a campsite. However, it turned out the campground had no shade at all and it was becoming really warm (35 C) so I decided to take a motel room ... The alternative to go to Havre would have meant another 110 kms, and although it was still only 2pm I didn't really feel up to the task of doing 220kms in one day!!!! I'm only mentioning this because I met this guy in Shelby who was setting off from the same "Subway" to Havre, which meant 160 to 170 kms for him; actually he did not look that fit to me, but you never know ...
The names of the towns along Hwy 2 and the parallel railroad sound so familiar to a European and they were obviously created or appointed by railroad engineers who needed to name the stations along which the trains were supplied with fuel and water in the 19th century.
Well, there are a couple of explanations for the origin of those place names: Zurich, MT, for example, receives its name from an older, far more impressive city. Legend has it that to name many of their stations, railroad executives would open an atlas at random and point to a city.
"John, I think the place is done and the tracks are ready. Now the only thing that remains is to choose a name for the place", says First Railroad Engineer Frank Mayfield from Manchester in the last meeting at a lonely and so far unnamed place in Montana in 1891 in the Engineering Hut in the middle of the prairie after gruelling work of flattening the ground, laying out the tracks and putting up the water tanks. "So let's have a drink and find a good name for this godforsaken place. Any ideas?"
Buce Smith from Scotland says, "Frank, I've been here with you so long, don't you think it's my turn to pick a name? I'd say Glasgow!" "No!, says John Mainard from London, "I'd love to call this place Lambeth!", whereas the Welsh engineer Frank Ceinwen, after his third Scotch, which Bruce had saved up for this occasion, intervened with "hey, dear friends, I've been doing more work on this railroad than all of you together! I believe this place should be called Swansea!" "I believe," says First Telegraph Operator Sam Smith, "that it is time that a new station on this great railroad which will profoundly change the country's future should have a real American name! My hometown in Pennsylvana should serve as a model. I therefore suggest "Chester" as the most appropriate name for this place." ...
"Chester", in fact, was not named after a random pointing to a map but this town's name that began as a watering and coal loading station for the Great Northern Railroad steam engines around 1891, but was apparently chosen by the first telegraph operator in the town and named in honor of his hometown in Pennsylvania.