HELENA — The idea of time travel may seem pretty appealing for many, especially after making it through 2020. Unless you just happen to have a DeLorean, though, it’s probably not a very realistic option. But luckily for people in Helena, the next best thing to a flux capacitor is starting Memorial Day weekend in the Queen City of the Rockies.
“If anything this last year has taught us that people have really seen the value and getting enjoyment and health from being outside," said Vigilante Shuttles & Tours owner Kurt Valiton. "You pair Helena’s amazing outdoor spaces with our amazing history and a curated tour from the Montana History Foundation and operated by a downtown business that’s founded on the entire premise on creating great experiences. Hopefully we can add one more incredible thing to Helena.”
Presented by the Montana History Foundation, Helena History Hikes and Walks is a summer-long series of guided tours through the capital city’s rich and colorful past. From a hike up Mt. Helena to a stroll through the sites of former breweries and brothels, the tours offer something for everyone. Even if the person has lived in Helena their entire life.
“Our high quality, solidly researched content that include, we hope, new anecdotes and stories about different people and events that occurred in Helena history," said The Montana History Foundation's Special Projects Coordinator Ciara Ryan. "So we drove through all the local authors books, such as Ellen Baumler’s material. We went through and we dug through newspapers. We went to the Montana Historical Society and really dug up interesting tidbits that we hope people engage with.”
“When you do it for Helenans you’re afraid that they might know a lot of information," said Valiton. "But seeing the jaws drop, and the ‘Oh wows!’, ‘I’ve never heard that before!’ from folks as they go through these tours and see things right here in their hometown, it’s really been good feedback.”
Partnering with a few Helena businesses, the tours aim to not just connect people with Helena's history, but show that there are a few common threads that link the past to the present.
“The importance of the people and the community and that strength of community, the importance of history and this town to the community," added Ryan. "To preserve it and that community spirit, that liveliness, that appreciation of history and that work hard, play hard mentality was there from the beginning and still continues today.”