Posted by: greatfallsgirl | February 8, 2014

You Can’t Call Us Wimps in Great Falls

I spent the last few days away from Great Falls, seeing a friend in Seattle.  While I was gone, Great Falls was in the midst of another cold snap.

great falls blog

I keep track of temperatures around Montana.  Yesterday, Great Falls was lower than all the other places in the state I track (even colder than Cut Bank and Chester!).  I have to admit, it kind of made me proud. What does a “below zero wind chill factor” look like?  Here’s a shot of U.S 2 near Browning when I got back.  The wind chill though was only – 20 F at the time.


What a – 20 F wind chill looks like…east of Browning, MT on US 2

We learn how to deal with these things here.  We plug in the heat tape on our water pipes. We put cardboard on our pickup truck radiators, in addition to plugging in the block heaters. We don’t close schools in Great Falls.  Businesses don’t close.  Life goes on as normal.  Well done Great Falls…well done.

Posted by: greatfallsgirl | July 6, 2013

Stuck in a Traffic Jam?

My friend Larry (one of the best radio DJ’s from Great Falls) now lives in the big city.  Sometimes he sends out pictures of the traffic jams.


Larry’s traffic hell.

I’ll chuckle, and sometimes I’ll send him the link to the CNN article “Want an easier commute? Try Great Falls, Montana” again.

My partner and I were on the east side of Great Falls recently, near the old Valu-Mart, and we had to go someplace near Riverview.  He sighed about crossing town, and I told him not to worry…you can get anyplace practically in 15 minutes in Great Falls.  So I put it to the test and set my timer on my phone.  We made it in 13 minutes.  (No traffic laws were broken either!)

Here’s the article from CNN…from about two years ago.

Want an easier commute? Try Great Falls, Montana

Here’s an honor to add to the welcome sign in town: Great Falls, Montana, home to the United States’ shortest commute.

At just 14.2 minutes, the average commute in Montana’s third-largest city is beating New York’s by 20 minutes. According to a Census Bureau report released Thursday, workers in the New York metro area require an average 34.6 minutes to get to their jobs.

Commuting in the United States: 2009,” ranks the commutes, and says a lucky 13% of commuters get to work in less than 10 minutes. About 2% need 90 minutes or longer for their daily trips.

The average U.S. commute: About 25 minutes.

It’s not bad – about the same as in 2000, actually – but it’s no Great Falls.

Montana drivers usually judge a commute by miles, not minutes, said David Kack, program manager for mobility and public transportation at the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University. Even if they’re driving 200 miles, he said,  most people in Montana assume they’ll be trucking along at 70 or 80 mph on traffic-free roads.

“We talk about our ‘rush minute’ instead of ‘rush hour,’” Kack said.

Great Falls has 58,505 residents and plenty of roadway for everyone, Kack said. More importantly, there’s plenty of affordable housing close to the city center, which prevents residents from spreading out in search of cheaper places to live.

The 10 shortest average commutes are all in metro areas with fewer than 300,000 people.

“It’s a very different scale. You don’t have all the folks,” said Kack, who lives in Bozeman. “To an extent, that’s why people live in Montana.”

Other fun facts to mull during the drive home:

When getting to work, there are winners and losers

When the Census Bureau began collecting commute data in 1960, about 41 million got to work in private automobiles. By 2009, that number jumped to 120 million, and 76.1% drive alone.  But the 5% of commuters who get to work using trains, trolleys, buses and ferries have longer commutes than those who drive.

The metro areas with the longest commutes in the United States are New York, at 34.6 minutes; Washington, 33.4 minutes; Poughkeepsie, New York, 32.2 minutes; Bremerton-Silverdale, Washington, 30.8 minutes; Chicago, 30.7 minutes; Winchester, Virginia, 30.3 minutes; Atlanta, Georgia, 30.1 minutes; Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California, 30 minutes; Stockton, California, 29.8 minutes; Baltimore, Maryland, 29.7 minutes.

The shortest commutes: Great Falls, Montana, at 14.2 minutes; Lewiston, Idaho, 14.7 minutes; Grand Forks, North Dakota,15.1 minutes; Lubbock, Texas,15.5; Missoula, Montana, 15.8 minutes; San Angelo, Texas, 15.9 minutes; Cheyenne, Wyoming, 15.9 minutes; Midland, Texas, 16 minutes; Lawton, Oklahoma, 16 minutes and Decatur, Illinois, 16.5 minutes.

Commutes differ with race, ethnicity and gender

Most workers leave home between 7 a.m. and 7:59 a.m., but men are more likely to leave early – almost 40% of them depart before 7 a.m., while less than 25% women leave that early. The average commute time for men is 26.7 minutes; for women, it’s 23.4 minutes.

Nearly 84% of white workers who aren’t Hispanic drive to work alone – about 10% more than any other racial or ethnic group – and Hispanic people are more likely to ride together. They carpool at a rate of 16.4%, compared to 9.5% for non-Hispanic workers.

So who has the longest commute? Non-Hispanic black workers who rely on transit. Their average travel time is 50 minutes, double the national average.

Oregon is tops for cyclists – and not bad for walkers, either

The top metro areas for commuting by bicycle are Corvallis, Oregon, where 9.3% of workers travel by bike, followed by Eugene-Springfield, Oregon; Fort Collins-Loveland, Colorado; Boulder, Colorado; and Missoula, Montana.

It didn’t crack the Top 10, but Portland, Oregon, is the only metro area with more than 1 million people where more than 2% of commuters travel by bike.

The top metro area for foot-powered commutes is Ithaca, New York, where 15.1% walk to work. Other top metro areas are Corvallis, Oregon; Ames, Iowa; Champaign-Urbana, Illinois;  and Manhattan, Kansas.

What do they have in common? Many of the places with more biking and walking are home to major universities.

Posted by: greatfallsgirl | June 11, 2013

It’s a Tradition

When we got to Great Falls last fall, my partner Kurt (not from Montana) wasn’t totally impressed by Borrie’s.  My friend Becky gave him a sharp look as he scoffed at the idea of going there for dinner.  “It’s a tradition” she told him for people in Great Falls.  It was one of the first places I would go when I came home, and my uncle would send me a gift certificate for there every Christmas before he passed on. Now that I’m back, I always have a container of Borrie’s bleu cheese dressing in my fridge.

When we were there last month, Mel was working.  She’s been a waitress there for over 40 years.  I remember her from when I was a kid (and she doesn’t look that different after all these years!).  I talked to her for a few minutes…she remembered my parents from years ago!  Now, that’s tradition.

There are other “traditions” too…some of them are gone, like Burger Master and Zandy’s.  Scheffi’s.  Wong’s.  But thankfully some are still around.  Here are some pictures of my favorite “traditions.”

blog borries

At Borries…I had the Prawns and Ravioli and Kurt had a T-Bone steak and Half & Half.  He did admit the steak was awesome!


Taco Treat has 99 cent tacos from 2 – 4 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and the place is usually very busy then.  Of course, you can’t get tacos without getting a Cheese Crisp…it’s tradition!

blog howards

Howard’s Pizza has been a tradition for many years in Great Falls.  No matter where I’ve been in the world, I’ve always asked pizza joints to square cut the pizza for me, just like Howard’s.  May not be exactly the same, but it helped.

blog el com

How could you go into the El Comedor and not get some fluffy tacos and a Fat Alberto…tradition!

I hope these few pictures bring back great memories.  You really can’t call Great Falls a “culinary capital” but I know many that wouldn’t trade a meal at one of our “traditions” for a so-called gourmet meal anyplace else in the world.

Posted by: greatfallsgirl | October 17, 2012

There’s No Place Like Home

Well, after writing about home and thinking about it, I made the move.  One month ago I rounded Gore Hill.  They say you can never go back home again, but I don’t think you can say that about Great Falls.  It’s the community.  I felt like I was home the first day I was here.

Last week we had breakfast in a little cafe on Central Avenue West, and started talking to this older gentleman sitting at the table next to us.  Turned out he also left Great Falls decades ago, and had just returned several months back.  It made me smile.

I will continue with posts about growing up in Great Falls, so stay tuned…

Posted by: greatfallsgirl | April 11, 2012

Hempl’s Bakery

Hempl’s Bakery at 16 6th Street SW on the westside of Great Falls

Our family always got baked goods from Hempl’s Bakery on the westside.  Whenever I came back home on visits, I’d always stop there to pick up donuts before heading up to the farm to see my uncle.  He was crazy about them.

The Rasmussens launched Hempl’s Bakery in the late 1960’s. Grandma Rasmussen came up with the name:

H – for Harold, Grandpa
E – Effie, Grandma
M – Myrlin, first daughter
P – Paul, middle son
L – Linda, last daughter
‘s – Grandchildren

The family sold the bakery in the 1980’s.  It’s great to know how the name came about, and even greater the name remained the same.  (Paul Rasmussen shared the story on how it was named on a Great Falls Facebook group.)

Yes, Hempl’s Bakery has a Facebook page…you can find it here.

Posted by: greatfallsgirl | April 9, 2012

Take Me Back to Old Montana

This is a verse that was on an antique postcard my cousin had.  It had a drawing of a cowgirl on it also.  Not specifically “Great Falls” related, but very appropriate here I think.


Take me back to old Montana

Where there’s plenty of room and air

Where there’s cottonwood an’ pine trees

Bitter root and prickly pear

Where there ain’t no pomp nor glitter

Where a shilling’s called a “bit”

Where at night the magpies twitter

Where the Indian fights were fit.

Take me back where the sage is plenty,

Where there’s rattlesnakes and ticks;

Where a stack of “whites” costs twenty,

Where they don’t sell gilded bricks.

Posted by: greatfallsgirl | April 8, 2012

Wadsworth Park

After moving back to Fort Benton for a short time in my teens, I’d often return to Great Falls with my friends.  Sometimes we ended up out at Wadsworth Park, way out on the west side of Great Falls.

My Great Falls friends would freak us out, talking about how the place was haunted.  Believe me…we were FREAKED.  Nobody could really say exactly why it was haunted then, but not too long ago I found out the story behind the murders that happened there.  This is from a newspaper article dated January 5th, 1956.

Girl, 16, Found Shot to Death; Escort Slain

GREAT FALLS, MONTANA – The body of a 16-year-old blonde, a bullet through her head, was found in a rocky ravine Wednesday, eight miles from the lover’s lane where her Air Force sweetheart was slain.

Pretty Patricia Kalizke’s fully clothed body lay at the foot of a 20-foot embankment off a highway six miles northwest of this central Montana city.

The girl’s escort, S2C Lloyd Duane Bogle, 18, of Waco, Tex. was found face down beside his parked car Tuesday morning.  His hands were bound behind his back.  He also had been shot in the head.

Sheriff D.J. Leeper said there was little doubt the same person killed both.

The sheriff ruled out both sex and robbery as possible motives.  He said Patricia apparently had not been attacked, and there was $5 in Bogle’s wallet.

Deputies were joined by air police from nearby Malmstrom Air Force Base, where Bogle was stationed, in searching for clues.

“We are grabbing at every straw we can find,” said Leeper.  “We have a mad killer on the loose.”

Officers questioned friends of the two on the theory the shootings may have climaxed a love triangle.

The sheriff said there was no indication the girl or the airman put up a struggle, indicating the killer could have been known and trusted by them.

The pair was not engaged, but had been dating steadily for the past several months.

This isn’t really a thing to “miss” about Great Falls, but it is worth mentioning since it is a part of the city.  I don’t know if it was ever solved…if someone knows, let us in on it in the comments please.  This is the article from the Michigan newspaper this information was located:

Posted by: greatfallsgirl | September 4, 2011


I have joined several Great Falls discussion groups on Facebook in the last couple days, which has been wonderful.  My favorite discussion right now there is a group of students who went to Largent Elementary School downtown, one of my old schools.  Another favorite of mine downtown was Zandy’s.  Someone posted a link to a Zandy’s Facebook group last night…one in which a group of investors are considering opening Zandy’s again.  Go to the link here and “like” the group.  If they have enough people, they will consider opening the store again.

My experience with Zandy’s (then Sandy’s) started early.  My Girl Scout troup leader took us down there a couple times during the summer on 10 cent hamburger day.  I remember seeing the Hutterites there on 10 cent day, getting bags and bags of burgers…they knew a good deal.  Years later when I returned to Great Falls, Zandy’s was the place you turned around when you cruised Central Avenue, and got something to eat sometime through the evening.

As usual, I find out about closings in the Great Falls Tribune and I save the article after the shock wears off.  David from Greater Falls wrote about the early closing.  There is a fantastic website that covers Zandy’s very well.  To visit it, click here.  

So long, Zandy’s: The memories remain

By JO DEE BLACK • Tribune Staff Writer • January 17, 2009

Back in the day, Zandy’s was the turnaround spot for high school students cruising Central Avenue, said Diane Timboe, a 1981 C.M. Russell High graduate.

Although the drive-in she and her husband, Todd, own is now closed, the couple has a permanent reminder of the hangout in their home.

The Timboes bought the business in 2000 and, a few years later, commissioned local artist Brian Morger to create a piece of artwork depicting the place.

The result is an eight-foot-by-four-foot painting with a lot of personal touches.

“The piece is really personal for me,” Diane Timboe said.

The painting includes a 1956 green Chevy, which is the car Diane’s dad owned. Inside the vehicle are Diane, her brother and parents, sketched from a church picture taken of the family in the 1970s.

“The license plate says 2-5-10, because May 10 is my birthday, and it also is Brian Morger’s birthday,” Diane said. “We had signed prints made, too, and my parents have number 56 hanging in their house.”

Todd’s family’s station wagon is included, along with a big purple car with a license plate of 19-2241, which was Morger’s address in Fort Benton, where he grew up.

To gather ideas for the piece, Morger spent time with the previous restaurant owners, the Simpsons, sifting through old photographs and listening to memories.

“Originally, it was a relative of Zollie Kelman from the Midwest who opened the franchise, which was a Sandy’s, here in Great Falls,” Morger said. “It was a laminated wood structure. The siding was added in the 1980s to make it more energy efficient, but, at one time, it was a beautiful building.”

There also was a strict uniform code: red-and-white checked outfits with white hats, Morger said.

As a kid, Morger remembers piling into his family’s station wagon with his parents and seven siblings and stopping at Zandy’s for the Tuesday night bag-of-burgers special.

“I remember those red and white uniforms, and the good fries,” he said. “I was content just to inhale the aroma of those burgers left in the bag.”

Zandy’s originally opened in 1960 as a Sandy’s Drive-In franchise, according to Tribune archives.

In the early 1970s, Hardee’s bought the Sandy’s company and the Simpsons, who owned it at the time, had to choose between becoming a Hardee’s franchise or changing the name, Todd Timboe said. The Simpsons chose the latter, literally going through the alphabet to try out different names. They decided on Zandy’s, which meant they had to change only one letter on the sign.

Rising costs made the business unprofitable for a couple of years and there were plans to shut down at the end of this month. Then the business was broken into last Sunday, forcing the closure to take place sooner than planned.

Posted by: greatfallsgirl | July 26, 2011

Mike Mansfield

Time Magazine cover, March 20, 1964

I have been watching the current debt limit struggle and debate, and a news commentator on one of the Sunday morning news programs yesterday made some sort of negative comment about the leadership in Congress.  For some reason, my mind jumped to Mike Mansfield.  I wondered if we’d be going through such juvenile displays if he were around.  So many younger people don’t know about him, so I wanted to put up a post about him.  The information below is from the U.S. Senate’s website on their leaders.

I have always been interested in politics and politicians and what makes them tick.  When my grandfather and grandmother were married in Helena in 1925, Senator Max Baucus’s grandfather John Baucus was their witness.  John worked for my grandfather also.  I remember seeing Max walking between Helena and Three Forks when he was walking the state as he was running for Congress back in the 70’s.  Just walking down the road…it was part of his campaign.  When I was in Washington, D.C. a couple months ago, I was doing some work which involved contacting senate offices.  When I was in Senator Jon Tester’s office, I made a comment that I grew up in Chouteau County and Cascade County.  The lady there asked me to hold on, that he was just coming from the Senate chambers.  When he came in and learned I grew up in Chouteau County, he couldn’t have been more warm and friendly to me.  We talked for about 15 minutes.  I was glad to know he knew my uncle, who had a ranch outside Fort Benton years ago, where I lived.

So back to Mansfield.  I had the honor of waiting on him one morning early when I worked at the Sambos downtown (3rd and Central Avenue) back in 1977 or ’78.  I had waited on actors and rock groups before, but that morning I had a real “rock star” at my tables.  I wish more leaders in Congress had a little “Mike Mansfield” in them.

Senate Leaders

Mike Mansfield by Aaron Shikler

Mike Mansfield
Quiet Leadership in Troubled Times

On March 24, 1998, Mike Mansfield returned to the Senate to deliver the first Leader’s Lecture in the old Senate chamber, which had been restored during his long tenure as Senate majority leader. Many of the Senators who attended had not served with Mansfield, who had not run for reelection in the Senate after four terms as a Senator. He was 95 years old, but stood straight and spoke forthrightly. In reflecting on Senate leadership, he chose to deliver a speech that he had planned to give on November 22, 1963, but instead had simply inserted into the Congressional Record following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. That speech aptly captured his philosophy of leadership and understanding of the Senate.

Mike Mansfield was born in New York City in 1903, the son of Irish immigrants. His mother died while he was a child and he was sent to live with relatives in Great Falls, Montana. At the age of 14 he dropped out of school and enlisted in the navy during World War I. He had gone on several convoys across the Atlantic before the navy discovered his real age and discharged him. Mansfield promptly joined the army, and then went into the Marine Corps. The Marines sent him to the Philippines, Japan, and China, which kindled Mansfield’s lifelong interest in Asian affairs.

When Mansfield returned to Montana, he worked in the copper mines and studied to be a mining engineer. Then his life took a dramatically different course when he met school teacher Maureen Hayes, who persuaded him to complete his high school education through correspondence courses and go to the University of Montana. She cashed in an insurance policy to help pay his tuition. They married in 1932 and had one daughter, Ann. Mansfield got his B.A. and M.A. degrees at Montana, where he taught Far Eastern and Latin American history and political science. He also started on a Ph.D., but politics intervened.

An internationalist in a state with strong isolationist sentiments, Mansfield lost a race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1940.  Two years later, however, after the United States had entered World War II, he won the seat. He served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and went to China on a special mission for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1952, Mansfield ran for the Senate against incumbent Zales Ecton. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy came to Montana to campaign for Ecton and to question Mansfield’s patriotism. Mansfield eked out a narrow victory. When he arrived in the Senate, Senator McCarthy greeted him by asking how things were in Montana. “Much better since you left, sir,” Mansfield replied.
Read More…

Posted by: greatfallsgirl | June 15, 2011

The Gargoyles on Central Avenue

First National Bank

Yes, gargoyles.  On the old First National Bank Building (southeast corner of 3rd Street and Central Avenue), gargoyles circled the top of the building, looking down onto those below.  When they tore down the old bank building in the late 1960’s, I remember my dad talking about wanting to get one of the gargoyles, as they were being offered for sale.  I laughed, thinking about a gargoyle guarding our front yard in Riverview.  I couldn’t find any pictures of the gargoyles, but I found a few postcard pictures of the old First National Bank building.  One can barely make out the white “bumps” at the top of the building on the upper picture were the gargoyles.

Looking down 3rd Street to FNB, 1915

Posted by: greatfallsgirl | May 26, 2011


These ice cream carts had the run of Great Falls in the 1960’s and 70’s I know.  When you heard that music coming from the speakers on the top of the vehicle, it was almost an impulse to start searching your pockets for change while walking out the door to meet Frosty in the street.

They had a platoon of carts that would hit the streets in the morning during the summers.  I remember them frequently in Riverview, where I lived several times.

One of the characters in the movie Thunderbolt and Lightfoot had a job driving a cart as a cover, so I got these shots from the movie.  In this scene, George Kennedy had just jumped in to join the driver on his route, to talk about the “job” they were getting ready to pull.

Other places I have lived generally had old vans or trucks that ran the streets to sell their ice cream.  I hadn’t seen anyplace else that had these cool little carts.  It was one more thing that made Great Falls great.

Posted by: greatfallsgirl | May 24, 2011

Ayrshire Dairy

The Ayrshire Dairy was a popular dairy south of Great Falls.  It is the only milk I ever remember being in the house.  The dairy doesn’t operate anymore, but the land is still held by the family…that is nice!   Here is a picture of the barns that were part of the milking operation.

An item from the dairy found on E-Bay:

Another milk bottle:

The Golden Anniversary Ayrshire Dairy Cookbook (1958):

The hallowed carton (thanks John Hamrell!):


More information about the dairy:

Ayrshire Dairy Farm

Owner/Manager: Harry Mitchell & Family

Here is one of the most significant historic sites on the entire national Lewis and Clark Trail — the Upper Portage Camp and White Bear Islands area, where the expedition headquartered for a pivotal month in 1805 and stopped again on its way home the following year.

It was here, on the present-day Ayrshire Dairy Farm, that the Corps of Discovery based its life throughout the brutal portage of the five Great Falls of the Missouri. It was here that they laboriously collected and created materials needed to assemble the iron boat frame they had hauled from Virginia — only to have the finished boat sink. It was here that they fought off wolves and grizzlies on a daily basis, while hunting and drying thousands of pounds of meat for the next leg of their journey. And it was here, too, that they drank the last of their whiskey and celebrated the nation’s 29th Independence Day on July 4, 1805.

One hundred years after Lewis and Clark‘s momentous passage, ancestors of the land’s present-day owners began creating one of the state’s first — and longest-lasting — dairies. H. B. Mitchell imported Ayrshire cows from his native Scotland, believing they were the only species hardy enough to thrive even in Montana winters. Milk processing ended here 92 years later, but the dairy’s rangelands are still grazed by local cattle.

The rangelands here still sustain themselves naturally, having changed in 200 years only by virtue of the loss of bison, which in the days of Lewis and Clark grazed — even overgrazed here — by the tens of thousands. H. B. Mitchell’s descendants today manage cattle grazing to ensure sustained productivity both for livestock and for the many wildlife species that remain in abundant numbers. With the creation and growth of nearby Great Falls, much of the land surrounding the Ayrshire Dairy Farm has been developed, but the farm’s owners plan to continue preserving their land and its historic sites as open space. A historical exhibit and loop-trail created by Undaunted Stewardship® now overlook the Upper Portage Camp and White Bear Islands area.

Directions to this ranch:
In Great Falls, take 10th Avenue South to 13th Street. Turn south on 13th and travel about four miles to 40th Street. Turn right (west) on 40th; the display area is on the left about 400 yards from 13th Street.

Posted by: greatfallsgirl | May 23, 2011

Burger Master

…or I’ll Gladly Pay You Tuesday for a Ramp Burger Today

I saw a posting on Greater Falls from a former Burger Master employee that had the recipe for the ramp sauce.  I shamelessly begged for the recipe in the comments…still haven’t heard from them.

From Greater Falls: Burger Master saying goodbye

I loved going to Burger Master when I was a little girl.  Before we moved to Great Falls from Fort Benton when I was in 3rd grade, I would know I was getting close to going to Burger Master as soon as I saw the Anaconda stack in the distance.  I loved Burger Master before there were flying things.  My mom would always get a green river.  I vaguely remember a brown cow…might have been a purple cow too…in my hands.  I loved their burgers and as I grew up I gained an appreciation for the Ramp Burger, my mom’s favorite.

On trips back to Great Falls, one of my first stops would be Burger Master.  It was in the 1990’s that I would be up from Butte (going to school at Montana Tech), and noticed the change in the amount of customers they had.  Back in the mid to late 1960’s and 70’s, it seemed like Burger Master was always crowded…both locations.  It wasn’t so much in the 90’s.  I’m not sure why, but I suppose the writing was on the wall for the eventual closing.  Polished, fun-looking chain restaurants, hawking their menu on television frequently I suppose pulled some away, patrons not really caring about just what they were eating, but where.  The ramp on the 10th Avenue South Burger Master was looking aged, not real spiffy.  But nobody could beat the onion rings there. 

From Greater Falls: The ramp at the 10th Avenue South Burger Master

I was very sad when Burger Master closed down.  I am not sure just where I will automatically run to as a first stop the next time I come home.  I am still hopeful our friend in Los Angeles shares the recipe for the ramp sauce…but until then I will keep sweet memories of Burger Master on my mind.

Meanwhile, here is the inside scoop on their onion rings, I found somewhere a couple years ago:

Last week’s request for onion rings like the Burgie made brought a prompt phone call from the Great Falls cook.  Sharon‘s niece was a co-owner of Burgermaster at one time. So Sharon knows what she’s talking about.

To duplicate the Burg’s onion rings here’s what she said to do.

“Mix Krusteaz’s Bake and Fry Mix with water to desired thickness. Toss onion rings in a little flour before dipping them in the batter. Fry in hot grease.” Sharon noted that a home cook will probably not achieve the golden brown hue of the Burg’s onion rings because the oil will not be as well used as a drive-in’s.

Here is one place to find the mix she talks about:  click here.

Click on the two pictures for more information about Burger Master from the Greater Falls website, where the pictures came from.  Click here if you want to see the menu.  Also, here is more information that was published in the Great Falls Tribune.  I saved the article after I read it, in shock, in the online edition which I try and read everyday:

Burger Master soon will serve only memories

By ERIN MADISON • Tribune Business Writer • July 18, 2008

On Saturday, cars will make their way up the Burger Master ramp on 10th Avenue South to order flying pizza burgers, shakes and onion rings for the last time.

After the last burgers are served, the restaurant, a longtime Great Falls staple, will close its doors.

Owner Anne Knapstad said it was a series of unfortunate incidents that led to the restaurant’s closure, which will leave 10 or 11 employees without a job.

Knapstad and her husband, Keith, who live in Denver, bought Burger Master five years ago. Anne’s sister ran the restaurant until she became ill. Anne stayed in Great Falls for about a year to run the restaurant and care for her sister. She said she is ready to return home.

“I just can’t keep it going anymore,” she said.

The Knapstads own both the westside and 10th Avenue South locations. The couple closed the westside restaurant last year after it became difficult to produce a high-quality product while running two restaurants. It was also hard to find workers to staff both locations, Keith Knapstad told the Tribune at the time of the first closure.

The Knapstads put the business on the market early this year, but have yet to find a buyer — though some people have expressed interest. The restaurant is listed for $225,000.

“Hopefully, someone will buy it and take it over,” Anne said.

The Knapstads leased both Burger Master locations, so a new owner potentially could move the business.

Rick Chernicky, a former Great Falls resident who now lives in Florida, has many fond memories of Burger Master.

“I just grew up with the Burger Master,” said the 1975 C.M. Russell High School graduate.

He said he went to the hamburger joint as a young kid.

In high school, it turned into a hangout for him and his friends. They would park their cars at Burger Master and walk around from car to car while sipping cinnamon Cokes, Chernicky said.

Burger Master was still the first place Chernicky went when he visited Great Falls.

His last visit to the Electric City — and his favorite hamburger stand — was in June.

“I’m just glad I got to have my last Burger Master then,” he said.

Rita Walker grew up in Brady. Every time she came to town on the pep bus while in high school, the driver would stop at Burger Master.

“It was a treat,” she said. “It was always the highlight of our trip.”

Walker, who now lives in Great Falls, also frequented the Tastee Freeze and A&W in Conrad, but she said Burger Master was unique.

“It wasn’t the normal drive-in,” said Walker, 58. “For a small town group, that was kind of cool.”

Burger Master isn’t much of a teen hangout these days, but it is a fun place to work, said Teysha Hughes, who has worked there for about 18 months.

“I’m really sad,” said Hughes, a junior at Great Falls High School. “It’s a really great place to work and has great food.”

Chernicky said he once was given some of Burger Master’s recipes by the original owner, and he made them a few times, but they just weren’t the same.

“I hate to see things like this close,” he said.

Saturday will be the last day for the 10th Avenue South Burger Master, a longtime fixture on the busy road. The westside Burger Master closed its doors in 2007.

Posted by: greatfallsgirl | May 23, 2011

Ryan Dam

I have many fond memories of picnics at Ryan Dam.  This was a favorite place of my mom’s Aunt Louise (Livix), so she would often take her with us.  What a beautiful place!  There is no other spectacular site I can think of than looking up towards the dam from the island.  You can’t help but think about the challenges Lewis and Clark had when you look at the falls.  I am glad the clubhouse and access to the island continues despite the demise of Montana Power.

It was great crossing the bridge to the island and the picnic area, for it was almost like entering another world.

Ryan Dam, which is part of the Great Falls Portage National Historic Landmark, is located between PPL Montana’s Cochrane and Morony Dams. It is about ten miles downstream from Great Falls, and can be accessed going up Highway 87 and turning off east to the dam. Here is more information about the clubhouse and picnic area at Ryan dam from PPL Montana:

The Ryan Island pavilion

The Ryan Island cookhouse

 picnic area
The picnic area on Ryan Island is a popular spot for families.

Ryan Dam Clubhouse Information

The historic Ryan Dam Clubhouse, at the Great Falls of the Missouri, is an indoor facility just above the Ryan Dam picnic area.

Maintained and owned by PPL Montana, the clubhouse has a kitchen, equipped with two stoves and two refrigerators, a reception hall and restrooms. It’s available for public use and free of charge from Mother’s Day through the last weekend of September.

Reservations must be made by e-mailing Mich Ostertag at  or by calling 406-268-2324. PPL Montana provides cleaning supplies, paper towels, toilet paper, garbage cans and garbage bags. All we ask is that guests clean up the area before they leave.

The Ryan Dam picnic area is open to the public Mother’s Day through Labor Day daylight to dark, seven days a week. Reservations are not required to use this facility.

Both the clubhouse, built in 1913 and expanded in the 1930s, and picnic area are handicapped accessible.


Here’s a great video I just found on You Tube, filmed on May 28th, 2011, by “bnjmcleod.”

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