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Babb, MT

Babb, MT in Western Montana Chris McGowan - Chewing Blackbones Campground

Minutes from the eastern edge of Glacier National Park at the junction of U.S. Route 89 and Many Glacier Road on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Babb is one of the region's smallest towns, but it has plenty to offer. You'll find good food in Babb (including vegetarian and gluten-free fare), plus excellent fishing on nearby Duck Lake. (When fishing on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, be sure to purchase a tribal fishing permit.)

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Originally, around 1874, Babb was a whiskey post that attracted customers even from the Kootenay side of the Rockies. The broad flood plain by the town was sometimes a battlefield when enemies arrived at the same time. More recently, the town was famous for the Babb Bar where usually one could observe pickups, motorcycles and horses in equal numbers, all parked outside while their operators enjoyed the inside. If things got a little too rowdy, the (female) cook came out with a cast iron frying pan and restored order. Once some of the younger and more high-class clientele of the hippie era were enjoying a round-table and began discussing bars they had known and loved on several continents. Their two favorites were the No-Name Bar in Sausalito and this one, the legendary Babb Bar. Nevertheless, times change and Bobby Burns decided to upgrade, replacing the bar with a rather fabulous dinner club decorated with dream-catchers and an elegant fresco of Blackfeet history.

Now named for Cyrus C. Babb, who supervised the St. Mary Irrigation Project that diverted water to the Montana side and that is now disintegrating, endangering the futures of the towns and ranchers all along the High Line, the town was earlier called Main. Orrin S. Main married Isabel, the sister of George Starr and the daughter of Frank Pablo, influential men with Mexico in their background. In 1885 when the Riel Rebellion failed and the Red River Nation dispersed through Montana, several Metis and Chippewa families took refuge here.

In the early part of the 20th century, before the Thronsons, the Telleferos operated a branch of the Sherburne Mercantile. In those days horse-rustlers and other outlaws (notably Big Nose George) hid out near Chief Mountain, dodging back and forth over the international boundary. Mrs. Tellefero kept a shotgun leaning against the head of her bed. Mr. Tellefero told colorful stories of men down on their luck who occasionally slept on the store counters. They never stole anything. It was a strangely mixed time.

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