Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Gem of Helena

No, this isn't it. But the first thing we did in Helena, MT was take the Last Chance Train tour.

Helena is an old Gold Rush town, and has lots of interesting old houses.

The Iron Front Hotel, built in 1888, is Montana's only known example of a prefabricated iron facade. And the fourth floor ballroom was once billed as the best dance floor in the West.

Helena also has some odd buildings, like the Civic Center that used to be a Mosque.

But Helena came to be because of the discovery of gold in 1864. The main street is still named Last Chance Gulch becaused gold was discovered here only when 4 Georgians decided to take one last chance in mining the nearby creek. As luck and fate would have it, the men found gold that evening. They named the stream they found the gold in Last Chance Gulch.

It was a huge find - eventually $30 million in gold was removed from the area. At one time in the late 1880s, there were more millionaires per capita in Helena than anywhere in the US!

But finally - here's the real gem of Helena, The Cathedral of St. Helena.

I don't usually visit cathedrals, but this one is really amazing.

Completed in 1924, the highlight is the 59 huge stained glass windows.

Made in Munich, Germany, 37 of the windows tell the story of Christianity, from the fall of Adam and Eve to the Church in the early 20th century.

The one of Columbus seemed somehow out of place, but I guess I can understand it.

Most were fashioned after medieval art work representing biblical scenes.

The detail painted on each piece of glass is truly incredible.

The windows are protected outside from vandalism and the elements.


  1. What. No capitol building visit. Since Helena provides many photo ops, no doubt the decision for a post was difficult.

  2. Great pictures of Helena. I love that town. Thanks Diana for coming by Levonne's Pretty Pics and leaving a message for me. I look forward to following your journey.

  3. I love your header photo by the way! You're an inspiration! Do you know any boondocking spots between Pismo Beach/Morro Bay and Monterey anywhere near the coast?

  4. I agree, wow the artwork in definitely incredible and what a beautiful church itself.

    I loved the pictures and I would love to be able to go back in time and see what it would have been like back then and how the buildings looked, thanks I loved this post as usual :o)

  5. I have found some of the most interesting architecture in Churches-this one if awesome...the stained glass is amazing-
    I visited Glacier park over 10 yrs ago, but didnt visit Helena..we stayed in Kalispell, Shelby, and Livingston...I feel in Love with MT its such a wild and wonderful place!! You got some great photos of this cathedral!!

  6. I ususally stay out of big buildings..but your photos gave me a wonderful tour! Thanks! How is the weather???? HOT??


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