If you want to experience what it is like to walk through an 1800’s-era Western town that looks like an old John Wayne movie set, Virginia City, Montana is the place to go. The grey wooden plank buildings and sidewalks are restored and preserved as a National historic landmark which recreates what this gold rush town looked like over 150 years ago. You can walk the street today and look inside the buildings, many of which are open museums staged with antiques and mannequins. It’s like walking back in time to 1863. Other buildings are operational businesses and shops, including the home of Montana’s oldest bar, the Bale of Hay Saloon.
By my judgement, the Bale of Hay Saloon is the highlight of Virginia City’s historic appeal. The exterior of the building perfectly fits the Old Western motif and the interior of the bar brings the town’s cowboy atmosphere to life. The antique arcade machines in the front room and the paintings of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday across from the bar transported us back to the dusty old gold panning days of the past. The realistic tone of the saloon made it the perfect setting for the 1970 Dustin Hoffman movie, “Little Big Man”. Parts of the structure had to be rebuilt after a 1983 fire, but the ornate, angled ceiling and the potbelly stove in the center of the bar room are easily recognizable from the movie.
Bruce and I were joined at the Bale of Hay by my parents. We dined on delicious pulled pork tamales and the Grog Dog on a bun, sampling several unique brews in the process. Bruce enjoyed a Moose Drool beer while I particularly liked the Pig’s Ass Porter. After watching our friendly bartender make Moscow Mules for other patrons, I had to try one. It was so good that, after she tried mine, my mother had to have her own. We enjoyed learning about how much fun the Bale of Hay has in celebrating its heritage by organizing fun events like Brothel Days, featuring bed races down main street and local ghost tours. Our only regret is missing the Brewery Follies in the attached log opera house next door. We do know that we want to come back!
Most of these posts are written by Cheryl and edited and added to by Bruce. Learn more about us on our About us page.