Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana regrettably announces the cancellation of its fundraiser scheduled for Thursday, September 9, 2021. The decision is based on the extremely high transmission rate of Covid-19 being experienced in Lake County at this time. This is a disappointment for all involved in the planning of the event, but the safety of museum supporters is of paramount concern. The board of directors and staff look forward to announcing the date of a future fundraiser when it is safe to enjoy the company of friends and neighbors.
Running along side and behind the Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana is the Montana Nature Trail dedicated to Adelle Rogers Cheff (1917-1999). Her surviving direct descendants and extended family recently gathered at the trail head to share stories and pay homage to Adelle.
L-R: Buck Cheff, Roxy Cheff Sanders, Bud Cheff Jr., Mick Cheff Sr & Hap Cheff Sr.
Photo Credit: Jo Cheff
The Montana Historical Society recently announced that Bud Cheff Jr. will be recognized with its annual Heritage Keeper award. The Montana Historical Society Board of Trustees selected Bud at its April board meeting and will present the award during the Montana History Conference being held in Butte September 23-25. The purpose of the annual awards, as stated on the Montana Historical Society website, is to honor “exemplary commitment, effort, and impact in identifying, preserving, and presenting Montana’s historical and cultural heritage for current and future generations.” The annual awards are presented to up to three candidates who were nominated due to their “demonstrated record of accomplishment to a significant Montana history project … and preservation of objects or property of general or specific significance to Montana history and culture.”
Visit the Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana where our mission
…. is to discover, memorialize, preserve and protect the history and culture of the Flathead Reservation and early Montana. It is designed for the enrichment, education, and recreation of local residents and visitors.
Thanks once again to Thrivent Financial and its members for providing us with funds to spruce up for spring! Our containers and the Blue Star Memorial flower bed are chock full of new starts to add color to the front, and a brand new flag flies proudly from the museum flagpole, which will soon be illuminated by a spotlight. Volunteers helped with spring spruce-up too, from figuring costs for improvements to planting posies! Thanks to all of you!
I hope 2021 will be a better year for the museum and for all of us. With Jo’s hard work and all the ones that pitched in to help, the museum made it through a difficult year in pretty good shape despite the Covid-19. The winter here on the ranch has been mostly uneventful. Some real cold then warm weather not much snow, but some hard winds that took down some big trees. The bears are of course asleep, but we are overrun with deer and coyotes. The coyotes come by every day checking for barn cats, and they manage to get one every so often. I went to the barn a while back, and as I opened the door; I heard a lot of noise upstairs. I hurried up the stairs, and as I got to the top, I saw two stray dogs after the cats. My favorite cat, Patches made a run for the stack of hay bales, but they caught her just as she got there. I was running and hollering, but she was dead before I could stop them. I was trying to kick them, but I’m too old and slow. They got back downstairs and jumped through the window where they came in. They also killed my big brave black tom who had stood up to a coyote a couple weeks before. Through out the years the stray dog packs have killed way more pets and livestock than the bears and wild predators.
We have had two bad wind storms hit the ranch this past year, and it’s kept me busy cleaning up the downed trees. It took some big 200-year-old pine trees, and many smaller trees mostly spruce. I salvaged all that I could and sent them to Stoltze mill near Columbia Falls Montana.
In the early 1960’s I was working as an ironworker at the Frenchtown Pulp Mill. My partner and friend was an ironworker named Dick Garrin. We were preparing to do some structural upgrade work inside of the #1 recovery building where it joins the lime kiln building. The recovery building is a high 200 ft. tall while the lime building is lower, about 100 ft. We were going to take some metal siding off the building, so using the crane we could insert some steel beams into the building. There was a lower roof attached to the main building about 40 Ft. above the ground. I got on to this roof with a long extension cord and an electric impact to remove the screws holding the metal siding. It was January and a very cold day. I was bundled up in winter clothes and lined Carhart coveralls over the top with warm gloves. I also had on a hard hat with a cold weather liner, so the only thing exposed to the cold was my face, and my frosted mustache. In the mill’s early years, it was a stinky place especially in the winter months when the air was heavy. I had worked on it when it was built in 1956; George Troxell, and I were the first two Ironworkers hired on the construction. One morning after the mill was up and running my Mom rode with me to Missoula to spend the day with her folks. As we were approaching the crossroads at the Frenchtown turn off before the interstate was there, the mill was really putting out the smell. Mom had never smelled it before, and thought I was letting stinkers. She finally said “Buddy for goodness sake what’s wrong with you”. We had a good laugh over this for many years.
On this cold winter day on that roof the smell was really bad on that roof, and it camouflaged the natural gas smell from me. There was a gas leak, and I was right in the center of it. When I pressed the trigger on the impact the electric spark ignited the gas cloud. I was engulfed in a huge ball of fire. I ran to the edge of the roof and jumped. My guardian angel was with me as I lit in a deep pile of snow, which broke my fall. My cloths had protected my body from the flames, only my face was burned. Dick took me to the nurse and first aid where she tended to my burned face. It had burned my eyelashes, eyebrows, what hair that was not covered by my hat liner, and my mustache off. While the nurse was working on me, I noticed Dick standing by the door with a smile on his face. As I started to leave, I asked Dick “What’s so so dang funny, I don’t see anything funny about it!” He burst out laughing, and said,
“I’m sorry my man, I can’t help it, you look just like one of those cartoons where the guys cigar explodes, his face is all black and his mustachio is all burned off. It had burned it all off, just leaving stubble here and there. I could never grow a mustache after that. The nurse heard what Dick said and she got a smile on her face too. I forgave him for laughing after the hurting was over, by then I could see the humor in it.
CHRISTMAS WITH OLD BOB
As a boy in Martin City in the late ‘40’s I came to know an old hermit that lived back in the trees near our house, which was the last house on our road. We called the hermit “Old Bob.” He was a husky, barrel-chested man, and a loner. He had no house, just a board lean-to, open on the front. A big log he had hewn flat on top served as a bench and bed. He slept on that hard log with just an old army blanket under him, and one to cover up with.
Bob had a flat-topped stove that he used for cooking and heat. He would cut dead trees about 12 inches in diameter into lengths about 12 feet long. Bob would carry these logs on his shoulders, up the river bank to his camp, then saw them into blocks with his crosscut saw. Most men couldn’t have picked these logs up!
Old Bob lived here the year around, even when the temperature dropped to 40 below. His camp was not cluttered, but could have been fixed up a lot better. He didn’t seem to want to make it more comfortable for himself. Bob’s main diet was pine squirrel, sometimes grouse or venison. He had a medium sized dog, black and long haired, that was well behaved. He was probably a spaniel and shepherd cross. The dog never barked except when he had a grouse or squirrel treed for Bob to shoot, or when a bear would come into camp, which was quite often. Bob’s only gun was a single shot .22 rifle.
He was well educated, but would not talk of his past. The kids liked him, and he seemed to enjoy them more than the grown-ups. I sometimes went by his camp on my way hunting or fishing, and we talked quite often. He liked to talk about politics, and knew what was going on in the world.
Bob sometimes dug ditches for water and sewer lines by hand, for Mr. Joe Weedning, a developer, who had bought a lot of land from my Aunt Vina Martin. Joe had a limp and walked with a cane, and Old Bob called him “Limping Jesus.” The ditches had to be below the frost line, 4 or 5 feet deep. Bob’s ditches were perfectly straight, and the sides vertical and all the same width. He was a perfectionist in his work, but not at his camp.
My Uncle Herman and Aunt Bernida Byrd were always trying to give him things from their store, but Old Bob would not take handouts. On real cold nights, Dad would sometimes check on him. On some cold mornings Mom would have Kenny and me go check on him. Mom always had us kids take a big plate of our dinner to him on holidays, as he would not come and eat with us. On Christmas, we would take him a little gift of something, sometimes gloves or wool socks. He did not like taking the gift, but he would, mostly, I think, so he wouldn’t hurt our feelings. I remember my sister Ola, Kenny and I going over to his camp one Christmas day. We had some gifts and a wreath we had made for him. It was a beautiful day; the snow was over two feet deep and his camp looked so cozy and cheery in the snow. Ola said, “It’s just like going to the stable in Bethlehem to see Jesus.” I think God was smiling on Old Bob and us kids that Christmas Day.