By J.B. Chandler
The interior corridor of highways and railroads running through central Montana has gone through many transformations over the years. Fortunes change, importance transfers, and sometimes the grain elevators need to be moved down the road.
The North and South Moccasin Mountains lay far to the east, and from the top of this plain we can see those tree covered hills, reminiscent of little shoes, and understand why this town is also called Moccasin. The railroad begat the town, and continues to drive the town’s economy. Despite the town’s small size, the intersection of railroads creates a reason for those giant grain bins in town, and just outside it. You will smell the giant fertilizer plant on one side of town, and just on the other side is the MSU experimental farm. Began as an outlet for showcasing the crops capable of growing in Montana, it turned its attention to farming machinery and technology as the times have changed. Multiple fires have stymied Moccasin’s growth through the years, including the 1919 fire that burnt down an entire city block, but fortunately the ornately designed school has survived thus far. Unfortunately, the back side of the school has begun to deteriorate, yet the stark white pillar-like facade stands strong and remains a fine example of Art Deco design in Montana.
Eddie’s Corner is the new kid on the highway. At a critical connection of two highways, this spot began as a gas station, but has shown growth. With a grocery store across the way, cabins behind the gas station, and a self-storage company, Eddie’s Corner is almost a town in its own right, and the last highway stop on the way to Lewistown.
Meanwhile, Moore is the unofficial port of Lewistown as the last stop on the railroad. Many grain bins, elevators, and even a giant pile of grain under a white tarp show that agriculture drives this small town’s economy. The Community Methodist Church sits on the main road, Fergus Avenue, up the street from Melch’s Office Bar and Cafe and Moore Farmers Oil. A few shops are scattered across town, which shows just how sturdy this small town remains.
Crystal Lake is invariably the most beautiful spot near Moore. It lies within the Snowy Mountains to the south. This jewel of the Snowy Mountains offers about every aspect of fun the Montana outdoorsman could want. The beautiful lake, over a mile above sea-level, is good for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. Several hikes around the lake can lead you to vantage points overlooking the vast plains around the Snowy Mountains. Crystal Cascades is a waterfall that emerges from a cave, pouring over 100 feet to the trail you hike in from. Another hike sends you high above Crystal Lake where you walk the ridge lines to the ice caves, which hold the cold stuff year-round. No matter which hike you go on, bring water; this is some dry country, but every hike is worth it.