Summer’s End 2016 ~ Camping at Canyon Ferry Lake ~ CLICK AND DRAG THIS PHOTO

St. Peter’s Hospital has graciously offered to keep Prickly Pear Junction up-to-date with their latest news. Click on the St. Peter’ banner for the latest information!

The final printed version of PPJ was March, 2013 at which time Becky Buckmaster and Jolene Giarde turned the magazine/newspaper over to me with the intent of converting to an online digital version. The print version lasted from Volume 1, Number 1, on February, 1992 until March, 2013.

Recently Becky and Jolene gifted the City of East Helena with 2 very thick, 3-ring binders containing every issue of the printed version of PPJ! This amazing gift belongs to the City of East Helena and will be presented to the East Helena Historical Society in the near future. But before I let it go, I intend to scan the front page of many issues and present them here on PPJ “Cloud” for you to preview a bit of our shared history.

Cover from September, 2010

The East Helena Cemetery Association and the residents of East Helena are very proud of the rich history of the old East Helena Cemetery.

This photo essay spans the “Unknown Soldier Dedication”, Veteran’s Day, November 11, 1996 to the present day.

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Florentine Films, headed by the award-wining director and producer Ken Burns, is currently in the process of making a documentary film series on country music. We will be featuring Charley Pride in this series, and are interested in finding photographs of him from his time in Montana, including East Helena. We are specifically looking for pictures of him playing in local bars, with his Smelterite baseball uniform on. But any pictures from this time period are welcome.

You can send your questions, comments, and photographs to this e-mail:

Our office phone number at Florentine Films is: (603) 756-4141 (and then ask to speak to Claire or Pam)

For more information on our current project, feel free to click on this link:


If you have ever watched the TV show “COPS”, you have probably seen many instances where a suspected drunk driver was pulled over and failed a “field sobriety test”. Have you ever wondered exactly how those tests determine if someone is drunk?

The Big Three
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has established three tests as the Standardized Field Sobriety Test. You may find a rogue officer who throws something else at you, but because the standardized tests are most likely to hold up in court, these are the ones you’ll probably encounter. Click on the photo to read the full story.


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Sales of my three books on the ETSY website also
help support Prickly Pear Junction “CLOUD”.
Click on a book cover to see it on ETSY!

Click on this cover to view my book: “Step by Step: How to Cover Bottles With Fine Macramé” on my ETSY Store.

Click on this cover to view my book: “Macrame: Legacy Patterns” on my ETSY store!

Click on this cover to view my book: “Macrame: String Theory” on my ETSY store!


Twenty three years ago I bought a building on Main Street in downtown East Helena for a practical reason: it was the closest commercial building to my house that I could afford. I had in mind to change the nature of my business from retail to mail-order and do away with most of the products I produced before and concentrate on making sheepskin footwear, slippers to be exact. It turned out to be a great decision because of something that I didn’t expect initially. What I didn’t know then was that East Helena is a truly great place to have a business.  I sure know it now, and it keeps getting reinforced. Downtown may only be a couple of blocks long but it has filled up with experienced businesses in for the long haul.  Most buildings have been upgraded and there are still a few vacancies offering opportunities for people with the next good idea.  There are several reasons that East Helena works out so well for an independent business. The business space is reasonably priced and still an easy distance from the population of the whole Helena area.

Access to banks, post office, and city services are a few things that are just down the street. The primary element that makes for a good location is intangible but East Helena has it in abundance: great neighbors – both in the business community and residents of the town. I could start listing the great neighbors, but I don’t want to play favorites or omit anyone. However I will single out one East Helena institution for special mention. We are a mail-order business and we ship out over two thousand packages a year. The East Helena Post Office is a local partner that we could hardly do without.   Don,  Dorrie, Staci and now Terry really go out of their way to streamline the process and get our goods into the postal stream as effortlessly as possible. I owe those folks a big thank you. HIGH PLAINS SHEEPSKIN was started in the cold, windy basins of southern Wyoming (hence the “HIGH PLAINS”) in 1975. My first shop was in Laramie, Wyoming. After 9 years there, we moved to Last Chance Gulch in Helena, Montana. In 1993 we moved a few miles down the road to our current location at 5 West Main in East Helena.  We are across the street from Dave and Annie’s Main Street Eats and Dr Aichlmayr’s Rocky Mountain Dental Clinic, we are next door to Stacks. This is our factory, warehouse, shipping center and retail outlet all rolled into one. Prior to starting High Plains, I had several years of experience in the tanning and industrial sheepskin business. In the tannery I worked as a sheepskin finisher and grader. As an apprentice under an old school Czech craftsman, I made sheepskin paint rollers, industrial applicators and saddle pads. This has always been a small business. Right now I work with Zach who hired on a few years ago; he is getting the hang of this work real fast. The two of us work all year to make the thousands of slippers, hats and mittens that we ship to all 50 states, Canada and overseas.

Remember To Shop Locally In East Helena!


That is Shawn and Theresa’s Motto. They are the owners of GLORIOUS DAY, Coffee, Gift & Quilt Shoppe at 401 East Main Street in East Helena. Theresa was born and raised in East Helena and Shawn moved to East Helena with his family in the 70s. Married in 2014 and recently retired, they wanted to open a shop where everyone could experience the friendly atmosphere that comes with a small town. Mixing coffee, gifts and fabric just seemed like a good idea. Hot chocolate, smoothies, Italian Sodas and many other drinks are on the menu. The gift shop continues to grow with many unique items. There are over 400 bolts of fabric, a variety of books and patterns for inspiration, and of course the advice is FREE! ~ ~ Open Monday thru Friday 6:30 am – 6:00 pm, Saturday 8-5. Stop by, sit a spell and Make it a GLORIOUS DAY!

Heritage Food Store Now Carries Fresh Salmon!


Meet the new owner of the Heritage Food Store in East Helena. Doug Carpenter was born in Helena and has 25 years experience in the grocery business. This is his first ownership of a grocery store. He is committed to continued and long-term support of many non-profit organizations including Food Share and United Way. Heritage will contribute food on a regular basis, but equally important they will continue a Heritage tradition of allowing customers to contribute and collect food for those in need. Heritage also supports many local businesses. Prickly Pear Junction “Cloud” offers a warm welcome to Doug and his family. We know Heritage will continue to be an invaluable asset to East Helena! So please remember to shop locally. Phone: 227.5304 ~ 109 South Lane, East Helena, MT Hours: 7 a.m  to 9 p.m ~ 7 Days

Great Northern Carousel Helena, Montana, Photos: David George Hill

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“KNOWN BUT TO GOD” The four graves in the East Helena Cemetery were marked with a brass star and four small plaques identifying those buried there only as “Unknown Soldier.” But this is now changed – in part because of misguided acts of some vandals. The East Helena VFW Post had a monument made in their honor which now marks the soldiers’ final resting place. The soldiers will no longer be buried in near obscurity, but they will remain a mystery. The star is marked with GAR and they could have fought in the Civil War or in the West’s Indian wars. The cemetery’s records do not go past beyond the 1920’s. So on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 1996 a very impressive “Unknown Soldier Dedication” was held to honor these veterans.”