Monday, November 13, 2017

Cinnabar Basin School House: A Small Piece of Montana History

Last summer, while searching online for a place to stay near the north end of Yellowstone National Park, my husband and I came across a posting for Stermitz Ranch.  We'd been looking for a hotel in the town of Gardiner, Montana, just outside Yellowstone's north entrance. The ranch clearly wasn't going to be as convenient to the park. But it was a historic schoolhouse! On a ranch! As usual, we chose adventure over convenience and booked our stay.

Weeks later, heading into the mountains on a gravel road in the pitch dark with a carsick child, we questioned the wisdom of our choice. After an enormous day of driving we were all miserable. We reached the schoolhouse, found the key and stumbled into bed.

When we opened our eyes in the morning, we felt transported to another era.

When the owners of Stermitz Ranch decided to renovate the old, abandoned school house on their property, they were surprised to discover that many of the original furnishings and school supplies were still inside. They used them to decorate the one room cabin.

The old school books are still on the shelves.

The owners created a book about the schoolhouse that was pretty fascinating for a history buff like me.

After wandering around the school house, we stepped outside. While we knew the ranch would be beautiful, our surroundings still took our breath away.

And of course there were the horses. I couldn't wait to go riding, and I was thrilled when my little son said he'd like to go too.  Best of all, he absolutely loved it! In this photo he's meeting Reuger, the sweet horse he still talks about all the time.

While the location of the ranch isn't entirely convenient to Yellowstone, it was worth the extra twenty minutes of driving time. The road from the ranch to Gardiner follows the Yellowstone River.  We took the dirt back road and found ourselves driving through herds of antelope and elk.

Sometimes, taking a chance while traveling truly pays off, and our stay at the Stermitz Ranch Schoolhouse was one of those times.


dstoutholcomb said...

What an amazing find and trip, Claire!


Patti Sherry-Crews said...

This is a great place to know about! I never heard of I'll have to look into that. Gorgeous pictures! As you know, I was just out that way and it brought it back to me to see your pictures. Looks like you had quite a vacation.