Where in the USA is the CoCo Locomoto? travel blog

Look carefully and you can see yellow ribbons all down the street

On both sides of McLeod Street

A name of one of our Heros

Two ribbons adorn most poles

America's heros

Another hero from the Big Timber area

Shiloh Sharps Rifle Company

Some of their rifles on display

No photos were allowed on the tour

Display rifles

Remember the song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree" by Tony Orlando and Dawn?Well this small town didn't tie them...read the great story below. Makes you proud to be an American.

Traveling through Small town USA, you never know what heartwarming story you will run across. Such was the case when we arrived in the beautiful small community of Big Timber, Montana which sits in the Yellowstone River Valley and right along I-90. Driving down McLeod Street which is Big Timber’s main drag, wooden yellow ribbons adorn the power poles with names and branches of service members (ranks are not included for their security) from this tiny community who are currently serving in our military. These HEROS range from a father and son, brother and sister, three sons of one family and many others who have stepped up to the plate to serve our country and keep us free. The county seat of Sweetgrass County, Big Timber is surrounded by several mountain ranges, both the Yellowstone and Boulder Rivers, has become a fisherman’s paradise, as well as a hub for all the ranches in the surrounding area. Having lived in the area many years ago, Big Timber has certainly undergone many changes and sadly several of the businesses which were here then are now closed. With easy access to Bozeman, 60 miles to the west and Billings 80 miles to the east, many of the ‘mom and pop’ stores just couldn’t compete. But that hasn’t stopped the heart of those residents. Two moms, Noreen, who has three sons currently serving and Lucinda, whose dad, husband, brother and several of their kids are currently serving. They started brainstorming about how they could honor the area’s brave and sketched out the yellow ribbon design. Creating one wooden yellow ribbon they started getting their ducks in a row. They obtained permission from Montana Power to hang the ribbons but ended up in a fight with Big Timber’s then mayor who said it was against the rules as they were politicizing the war. The town with a heart of gold packed the city council meeting and overwhelmingly voted to let the moms proceed. Noreen and Lucinda began the project and soon wooden ribbons were being cut, sanded, painted with bright yellow paint and stenciled with names. Now as you drive around town you will find many poles sporting wooden yellow ribbons of the 48 brave men and women who either graduated or have lived in the area who are currently serving our country. A pretty amazing number for such a small area. Noreen told me they have five more to hang, three of which came from this year’s graduating class of 30. The proud military moms started the project in 2008 and have had lots of help from family to make sure this project is one the community continues to be proud of. In visiting with Lucindia’s mom who gives all the credit to Lucinda and Noreen, she claims to have done very little to help but knowing the people of this great little community, I would wager to bet Phyllis has been more involved than she would ever take credit for!

While visiting with Phyllis, she told me the Shiloh Sharps® Rifle Company in Big Timber is also a huge supporter of the military. For years Shiloh Sharps® has held a shooting competition at their gun range. However due to the severe drought conditions, Shiloh Sharps® has had to postpone the competition this year but the “Salute Our Military” drawing will still take place. On September 11th they will draw the name of a brave man or woman who is currently serving our country, from over 2000 names submitted from around the world, to receive a “dressed-up” Sharps Rifle to honor and thank them for their service. Shiloh Sharps® gives factory tours but call ahead to make sure they aren’t too busy to take you on a guided tour. We took the tour yesterday and it was great. Mike and the other guys in the tour were “drooling” to say the least. The rifles are purely a work of art and every one is hand crafted and takes several months to complete. As you are touring the facility it is obvious how much pride the employees have in what they are doing. The company has 17 employees and all but one has worked there since the current owners purchased the business in the early 90’s. They are 14-16 months out at this time. Their standard rifle starts at $1800.00 to $3298.00 and you can add about any customization you want from there. In 1873 standard Sharps rifles ranged from $30.00 to $125.00. The stocks are all black walnut from Missouri and each has a unique grain. They are sanded and oil rubbed until they shine and are as smooth as glass. The metal parts are all cast in their foundry next door. As the employees are putting together the rifles the parts all must fit to less than 1/1000th of an inch. A retired woman in nearby Livingston does all the etching and will do any custom etching a customer wants. Phyllis told us the most expensive rifle ever sold was a custom rifle for $20,000.00. They have made rifles for several well know movies including “Dances With Wolves” and “Quigley Down Under.” You can learn more about the company and their tours by visiting their website www.shilohrifle.com.

To say this town is mighty proud of their military is an understatement and we were so honored to have seen and learned about this heartwarming story. Visit with the locals when stopping in a small town and see what heartwarming story you will learn that most people will never know. After all sharing the experience is what traveling is all about. Makes you proud to be an American doesn’t it?

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