Call: 406.227.5750
(social distancing and masks
are required at all times)

East Helena Branch

11am-6pm Monday – Thursday
11am-5pm on Friday.
Closed Saturday and Sunday

— Lewis & Clark Library is proud to add laptop/mobile hotspot kits to our Library of Things checkout collection. Beginning this week, the Augusta, East Helena, Lincoln, and Main Branch of the Lewis & Clark Library will have a ChromeBook/HotSpot combo and a HP/HotSpot combo available for 14 day checkout. Each Branch will have two kits available for checkout.

“We are excited to offer laptop checkouts for our patrons for use for school, taxes, vaccination signups, and more,” explained Systems Manager Matt Beckstrom. The HotSpots and the HP Laptops were provided by Montana State Library using Library Services and Technology Act funding that is provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “Thanks to this partnership with the State Library, we are able to provide greater services to our patrons.” The Library hopes to continue to expand the laptop/mobile hotspot collection.

For information on each bundle visit

o Each branch (Augusta, East Helena, Lincoln and the Main Branch) has a Chromebook/HotSpot available for checkout as well as an HP/HotSpot combo for checkout. This provides each branch with two kits to check out to patrons.

o The Chromebooks run on ChromeOS and only allow for web browsing and file uploads/downloads while the HP machines offer a Windows 10 environment with access to Microsoft Office.

o Each mobile hotspot is set up to cater to the area where it will be checked out in order to achieve the best mobile signals.

o Each kit is available for a 2-week checkout period.


East Helena, once called Prickly Pear Junction, came into being as a stagecoach station. The stagecoach route between Helena and Martinsdale passed through Prickly Pear Junction. The original station was built a few years before East Helena was founded. The Prickly Pear House, stagecoach station, and hotel were located on the Northeast corner of Main and Montana Streets. It was operated as a “Way Station” to provide customers with food and lodging and as a changing place for drivers and horses on the stagecoach route during the 1870s and early 1880s. The stagecoach barn was located at what is today 408 East Main Street.

The origins of East Helena can be traced back to the mid-1860s as pioneers were heading west through the Helena Valley. East Helena’s current business district was frequently used as a camping area for freight wagons. 

The townsite of East Helena was filed in the office of the Lewis and Clark County Clerk and Recorder’s office on September 29, 1888.

The City of East Helena, Montana was incorporated on August 7, 1927.

If truth be told, I rather wish we were still called Prickly Pear Junction.


Hours: Monday thru Friday: after 3 P.M.
Saturday & Sunday: you can choose a time.
Call Amanda for pricing:

• Since 2014
• Certified Vet Tech
• 2 degrees from MSU Bozeman, Pre Vet & Equine Science
• Rodeo Training / Miles / Green Broke / Trail Rides

• We train with calm, patience, trust and safety of the horse and owner in mind.
• For safety we will not train in high-winds or inclement weather unless owners have a barn.

First time clients receive 20% discount!



Victoria Curtiss
EHHS Art Teacher

Yearbook advisor 
Robotics Coach
Photography class was able to venture out to the XX Bar Farm and Ranch
The reason for this field trip was to use the DSLR cameras in Manual mode.
Students are learning to focus, adjust the lighting and follow the action of their subject.
They have been practicing in the school but it was fun to get out and have new subject
matter. Students were assigned certain photo shots such as texture, contrasting
shapes, animals with interesting angles, landscape and buildings. – Mrs. Curtiss
The Farm

When we went to the farm I actually had a very fun time, it was really fun to see
all the different animals and the different farm equipment. I really enjoyed the whole field
trip but if I had to pick one it would probably be the part when I stepped on the ice and
my left foot fell through and I ended up with a muddy wet shoe and then had to change
into different shoes when we got back to the school.In the end I am very glad that we
worked this out and we were able to make this work out and we were able to go to the
farm and take pictures and see the different animals and farm equipment.
                                                                                                                 – Kobe Mergenthaler

Help is right here!

Times are tough but nobody should go hungry or be left out in the cold! On this page are some resources to help you and your family:

Dept. of Public Health and Human Services: administers SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Call: 1.888.706.1535

Salvation ArmyEmergency food, clothing, shelter, and utility assistance. Call: 406.442.8244

God’s LoveProvides food, shelter, clothing, and any other basic necessities for transients and families. Call: 406.442.7000

LIEAP – Low Income Energy Assistance Program: pays part of winter energy bills for those eligible. Can also help in emergencies if your power is cut off for non payment. Call: 406.447.1625

If you know a family in need, please share this information with them.

East Helena Pantry Is Currently Open!

Our East Helena pantry is open with curbside service. Helena Food Share is providing grab and go food support at the pantries in Helena and East Helena. If you are in need of food support, come see us. We have food for all who need it, and all you have to do is bring a form of ID and give the number of people in your household.

Curbside Service:
50 Prickly Pear Avenue N.
East Helena, MT 59635
(406) 443-3663

Monday 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Thursday 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

* * * * * * * * * 

In August 2019, the Montana Environmental Trust Group (METG) received the 2019 Excellence in Site Reuse Award from EPA Region 8 for successful work at the East Helena Superfund Site. The award celebrated the transformation of the East Helena Site through the work and dedication of the Custodial Trust and many federal, state, and local partners. The ceremony was held at Prickly Pear Elementary School, which opened in 2018 on land that METG donated to East Helena Public Schools. Read more about the award here.


This immense, gray/black slag pile in East Helena was formed by more than a hundred years of smelting lead, zinc, and other metals at the former ASARCO facility. METG (Montana Environmental Trust Group) is currently doing something about it. They plan to have Metallica Commodities Corp. transport 2,000,000 tons of unfumed slag by rail to the Port of Longview, Washington,  then by ship to South Korea for re-processing. Unfumed slag is material that did not originally  go to the zinc plant, so it has recoverable zinc. 


They expect to begin removal in April, 2021 and will continue for five years at a rate of 20,000 tons a month in 2021, then 30,000 tons a month in 2022. The intent is to have the project completed in five years. The planned removal of 2,000,000 tons represents the most contaminated portion of the (estimated) 14,000,000 ton slag pile. 


Finally, after the slag removal project is complete, METG will work to build a cap over the remaining slag pile. The cap will prevent stormwater from coming into contact with contamination and spreading any contaminated material from the slag.


This drawing (courtesy Sanderson Stewart) shows one proposed solution to the traffic problems that exist on Montana Avenue/Valley Drive. Now that Prickly Pear Elementary School and East Helena High School are fully functioning and the development of Highland Meadows Subdivision (315 single-family-homes,) is in full development, East Helena’s main road is hopelessly inadequate. On school days traffic is almost unbearable. Local residents expect and deserve to have a timely response to this situation. So where’s our road?


         In 1993, Gary Thomas bought a building on Main Street in downtown East Helena, Montana for a practical reason: it was the closest commercial space to his house that he could afford. His plan was to change the nature of his business from retail to mail-order and do away with most of his products to concentrate on making sheepskin slippers. It turned out to be a great decision because of something he didn’t initially expect – East Helena is a truly great place to run and operate a business. It’s a small town that should brag about itself more often than it does. Downtown may only be a couple of blocks long, but it has filled up with incredible business owners who are all in it for the long haul. It’s a quiet place in good country.

            There are several reasons for why East Helena works out so well for an independent business. The commercial real estate is reasonably priced yet still easily accessible to the nearby population of the Helena area. Bank access, postal service and City Hall are a few things that are just down the street. The primary element that makes East Helena such a great location is its abundance of amazing neighbors – both in the business community and residents of the town. One of those neighbors that we would like to single out is our incredible local Post Office. We are a mail-order business, and we ship out over 2,000 packages each year. The East Helena Post Office is a local partner that we could hardly do without. Everyone on staff really goes out of their way to streamline the process and get our goods into the postal stream as effortlessly as possible. We owe those folks a tremendous amount of gratitude.

Our Founding
         High Plains Sheepskin was started in the cold and windy basins of southern Wyoming (hence the name “High Plains”) in 1975. Gary’s first shop was in Laramie, WY. After nine years, he moved to Last Chance Gulch in Helena, MT. Then, in 1993, Gary moved one final time to our current location at 5 West Main Street (formally known as Prickly Pear Junction) in East Helena, MT. We are right across the street from Dave and Annie’s restaurant, Main Street Easts (best breakfast around!), and next door to Stacks Clothing CO. & Antiques. This is our factory, warehouse, shipping center and retail outlet all rolled into one.

         Prior to starting High Plains, Gary had several years of experience in the tanning and industrial sheepskin industry. In the tannery, he worked as a sheepskin finisher and grader. As an apprentice under an old school Czech craftsman, Gary made sheepskin paint rollers, industrial applicators, and saddle pads. His passion for doing what he loved led him to work for himself, building High Plains Sheepskin from the ground up. Gary employed many ambition and talented people throughout the years who helped him build and sell his slippers, mittens, and hats. Spencer Haire was his final trusted employee and worked alongside him until Gary made his last pair of slippers. Gary Thomas tragically passed away in August of 2019 leaving Spencer and his wife Casey Sasek to purchase High Plains and continue providing his beloved sheepskin slippers to tens of thousands of customers around the country. They make a good team. Spencer manages the shop and makes all of the products while Casey’s background in banking allows her to handle the books and marketing. In 2020, they welcomed their first son, Jackson, to the wonderful world of sheepskin slippers.

         The new management of High Plains has also hired their first employee, Trevor Held, who is an East Helena native and part of the first graduating class of East Helena High School. Go Vigilantes!

         High Plains Sheepskin has always been a small business. We work all year to make thousands of slippers, mittens, and other products that we then ship to all 50 states, Canada and overseas. We enjoy what we do and love being a part of East Helena’s small but growing community. 

~ Prickly Pear Junction Welcomes Missouri River Brewing Company To East Helena ~

Heritage Food Store invites all senior citizens or people with a compromised immune system to join us from 7-8am every Monday and Friday to shop.

109 South Lane Ave, East Helena ~ Phone: 406.227.5304

East Helena City Hall  (Photo from 2020)

The East Helena City Hall building has a rich history starting in the early 1900s. For many years it was the East Helena Public School. The photos below are from many different eras. The larger buildings (with the spire) are before the 1935 earthquake.


(Click this image to see full size)

Now Open!

PureView East Helena Clinic opened on May 20, 2019 and provides East Helena residents easier access to medical, dental and behavioral health services. The Clinic is a partnership between PureView Health Center, Intermountain and East Helena Public Schools and is located on the grounds of Prickley Pear Elementary School at 250 Academic Street.

The PureView Pharmacy will make daily deliveries to the East Helena Clinic, meaning less travel time for you and your family.  

All forms of insurance are accepted and a sliding fee scale is available for those who qualify.

The Clinic is open Monday-Friday,
9:00 AM – 6:00 PM.

For quality, affordable care in East Helena, look no further than the PureView East Helena Clinic.

For appointments: 
Call 406.457.8880 or 406.457.0000.

We look forward to serving you.

You can pick up your medication at the PureView East Helena Clinic or have it delivered to your door.  Delivery service is free within a 20 mile radius of PureView Health Center located at 1930 9th Avenue in Helena.  This service covers the entire city of East Helena!

Making your voice heard in East Helena!

CLICK HERE to see Duke’s crew in action!

J4 Automotive
Visit J4 Automotive Website

Kit and Vi Johnson started J4 Automotive over 22 years ago in 1994 with an SBA loan, some help from family members and a lot of prayers. Fast forward to today and we find the shop doing close to 1 million dollars in gross sales and still family owned and operated. The second generation of Johnson’s are now working in the business, with Kit and Vi’s daughter Nikita and her husband Chris carrying on the strong tradition of outstanding automotive repair and service and giving back to our community. The third generation of Johnson’s (the grand kids shown sitting with Viola) are growing up in the shop just like their mothers did and will most likely continue the family tradition well into the future.

J4 Automotive’s mission statement stresses community service, which they do a lot of. The yellow veterans ribbons, the kids activity tent in the Christmas stroll, sponsor of the spring school clean-up, the Halloween movie in the park and Frite-night are but some of the events Kit and Vi and the J4 Crew organize and participate in. Their experienced staff of seven, including three Master Mechanics, fix all makes and models of vehicles and are the recipient of many awards. The National Technician of the Year, and the Helena Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year are just a few examples of their commitment to excellence.

J4 Automotive is a Better Business Bureau A+ rated member, AAA Top Shop and NAPA AutoCare center that enjoys a 5 star Google and Yelp rating. Give them a call next time you need advice or maintenance and repair on your vehicle and use their convenient pick-up service while you work! 227-8622 or make an appointment on line at j4

Our helpful service advisors, Chris Pratt and Gena Berry will take care of you and your auto needs!

Sales of my artwork and art books on the ETSY Art/Craft website help support
Prickly Pear Junction “CLOUD”.
Click HERE to visit my ETSY Shop!

contact us: email  ~  ~  phone  ~  406.431.6026

Archived Content

Construction of Prickly Pear Elementary

Construction of Prickly Pear Elementary

This photo essay records the construction of  PRICKLY PEAR ELEMENTARY school on Dartman Field in East Helena, Montana. SCROLL DOWN TO SEE THE FULL PHOTO ESSAY ~ THESE PHOTOS WERE ENTERED FROM NEWEST...

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Student Insights

Student Insights

EAST HELENA HIGH SCHOOLVictoria CurtissEHHS Art Teacher Yearbook advisor  Robotics CoachEHHS Student Insights(Click on any of these pages to read the full-size, 3-page PDF)

read more
High School Photo Essay January 2021

High School Photo Essay January 2021

EAST HELENA HIGH SCHOOLVictoria Curtiss Photography InstructorCLICK on an image to view full size.A taste of East Helena High School through our student's eyes. This is not your typical high school...

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EH Unknown Soldiers

EH Unknown Soldiers

Four Unknown Soldiers In East Helena"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...

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In Memoriam ~ Charlie Pride

In Memoriam ~ Charlie Pride

(From Wikipedia) ... he moved to work construction in Helena, Montana in 1960. He was recruited to pitch for the local semipro baseball team, the East Helena Smelterites, and the team manager helped...

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Highland Meadows Subdivision

Highland Meadows Subdivision

HIGHLAND MEADOWS SUBDIVISIONLAND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS • Prickly Pear Elementary School/East Helena Clinic • East Helena High School • Highland Meadows Subdivision - 320...

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