Anybody who might be anybody back in the day in Montana might certainly remember Frontier Town.
My memories of Frontier Town involved the gravel parking lot, the bear, dog, and minor at the entrance of the once 2 lane highway 12 at McDonald pass. Kinetically driven, the roadside attraction depicted a grizzly bear about to attack a man and his dog. The dog jumped while a loud tape-recorded loop of barking echoed across the mountains.
Here’s the audio of the original barking dog sound —
The recording here doesn’t seem to do the real life sound any justice I think, because as memory serves, it was really, really loud. I suppose that when you’re a kid, everything is huge, and nothing was more exciting than that at the time.
I loved the huge logs, the smells of the dust and the woods, and who could ever forget the unannounced impromptu gun battles that raged in the street at any given moment.
The gates between the blockhouse entrance were bigger than real life … thick and heavy, one might seem to have found a certain safety or comfort behind them in the vast expanse of the Montana wilderness.
When I look around at what many of the kids have today, what with their snap-chats, instagrams, and zooms, I can’t help but feel a little sorry for them, in that a lot of what we have today stifles the imaginations and the wonderment that places like Frontier Town would bring.
Running my hands up and down genuinely hand-hewn logs and laid rough stacked boulders is etched in memory as solid as the Frontier Town that John Quigley had built with his bare hands .. as firm and as solid as the town itself tucked into the hillside.
We were friends and neighbors back in those days. We didn’t have any of this so-called politically correct nonsense. As children, having to worry about how we walked and talked and played was never a thing. It was places like Frontier Town that brought out the very best in us, and encouraged us to move ahead in life, come what may. We were stout, well built, and strong in our thoughts and in our imaginations.
We believed that we could do anything we set out to do, and lived it all accordingly.
The simple dreams of just one man, John Quigley, can be found etched into the minds and the memories of an entire generation. John’s pure vision of Frontier Town lives on in the memories of those who were fortunate enough to have experienced it first hand.
I wish my son could have experienced Frontier Town, but alas, short of the memories, Frontier Town is no more.
Even still, I do what I can to help my son experience old Montana. For as much as he loves Nevada City, and Garnett, I can’t help but wonder just how he might have received Frontier Town.
John Quigley let us know what it might have been like settling in the *new west — We set out to tame the territory, but what we didn’t know at the time, was that the territory was actually taming us. The grandeur and the wildness of what might have been the new Montana is a humbling thing. It’s larger than us, and even today, we are found in admiration of it’s simple splendor. The wilderness has it’s own set of rules, and it reminds us all of just how fortunate we are to experience it.