(HELENA) During the winter months, many folks have their favorite sledding spot for when the snow starts to fall. But few may know the story of how one well-known Helena street was, for a time, the place to be for sledding.
“In the mining camp days in the 1860’s, it was a big tradition for men and boys to decorate their sleds. They had these very elaborate sleds and this was their favorite hill.” says Interpretive Historian Ellen Baumler.
Christmas Eve there was a group of young people decorating the Catholic church, which sat right up there on Ewing Street where the apartments are today.
Early Montana Pioneer Mary Ronan tells the story of how she was never allowed to sled because it was something that was forbidden to girls.
The sledding story is one of many told in the book “Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan.”
Baumler shared Ronan’s story with MTN, saying, “It’s 5 o’clock in the afternoon and Charlie Curtis, Mary’s friend, gestured her over to this big tree that they hadn’t cut the boughs off of and he told her to step onto the branches. So she stepped on to the branches and she held on to the top branch and they pulled the tree down to the hill here to the top of the Broadway hill. And they got a running start, a couple of the boys pushed the tree, pointing down the hill and Charlie hopped on and the two of them went sailing down the Broadway hill to the very bottom.”
Mary said it was the very best Christmas present she’d ever gotten because it was the only time she got to go sledding.
Baumler says the story gives you a sense of what it was like back then.
“I just think it’s one of the really great wintertime stories that we have told from a young person’s perspective.”