Helena: A Helluva Downtown

By Richard White, May 6, 2014

We have been visiting Helena, Montana's capital city for over 20 years and we never get tired of it.  While some small cities (Helena's population is 29,000) boast about their historical downtowns and then disappoint, Helena's historic downtown is full of interesting shops, architecture and ghost signs. It is definitely worth adding to your 2014 road trip itinerary.  

As a teaser, here are some of our favourite things to see and do.

Barnes Jewelry (357 N. Last Chance Gulch)

Barnes Jewelry is almost more a museum than a retail store.  Yes, they have jewelry and lots and lots of clocks and watches, but what really makes it an enticing place to visit are the owners - Marvin Hunt and Stacy Henry. They are always eager to chat with you about the stories behind the historic clocks they have collected.  Don't be surprised if there is a school tour happening when you visit, as young children love to learn about how old timepieces worked and the owners revel in sharing the history of their artifacts. 

Barnes also has one of the best store window displays we have ever encountered.  While they may not be as big and flashy as the Christmas windows at Macy's in New York, they have a fun small town authenticity about them that we love. 

Clocks of all sizes and shapes decorate almost every available space at Barnes Jewelry.

Window artists Roberta (Bobby) Jones-Wallace and Pattie Lundin are responsible for the wonderful window narrative vignettes. What started out as an experiment a few years ago has become a tradition with the new window exhibitions changed seasonally. Bobby and Pattie love to spark your inner-child when passing by. Kids love the windows of course. 

This would make a good addition to my vintage barware collection.

The Sleepy Rooster (420 N. Last Chance Gulch)

Sleepy Rooster is a vintage retail store with a large warehouse at the back. The front is full of home accessories and artifacts all carefully curated into charming vignettes.  We love scrounging around in the warehouse space looking for hidden treasures. 

The store is full of eclectic and eccentric offbeat items and we have the photos to prove it. Canadian Pickers (Sheldon and Scott) and American Pickers (Frank and Mike) would love this place.  The prices are fair and you don't have to travel the continent to find them. 

Did we say eccentric?

Did we say eclectic?

Here's a just a sample of some of the many treasures waiting to be taken home from the warehouse space.

A view of the Sleepy Rooster's large showroom.

Aunt Bonnie's Books (419 N. Last Chance Gulch)

Great streets always have a great bookstore - Helena has Aunt Bonnie's.  Like all good used bookstores, it is packed floor to ceiling with books of all genres. The thrill is in the hunt!  

On our recent visit, I was looking for what I thought would be a hard-to-find book "Wisdom Sits In Places," an academic book by Keith H. Basso published in 1996 by the University of New Mexico Press. When I asked if they might have it, I was directed to places where it might be if they had it, with the caveat "I doubt we have it! " After a bit of searching, there it was at the end of the middle shelf. I was shocked and so was the woman who helped me (not sure if it was Aunt Bonnie or not - forgot to ask).  

FYI - the store has a "no cell phone" policy which makes for a refreshing tranquility. 

  The store front's window is very welcoming.

The store front's window is very welcoming.

I wasn't joking when I said the place is full of books. 

The Architecture & Art

Founded in 1864, Helena is the capital of Montana and as such, has a rich architectural history. While the state capitol building is impressive, the signature downtown buildings are two churches - one old, one new.  The main downtown street is named Last Chance Gulch in reference to the winding path of the original gulch (i.e. a valley created by water erosion) that the downtown was built around. 

There are many late 19th and early 20th century buildings in downtown, as well as contemporary new icons. 

The Saint Helena Cathedral, built in 1908. is an impressive sight as it overlooks the downtown. It is a beautiful and sacred place to explore.

Just down the hill from the St. Helena Cathedral is a large contemporary church that employs modern materials and design elements to make its modernist statement.

ExplorationWorks is Helena's hands-on interactive science centre for all ages.  It is part of a new urban village just north of downtown.  Here you will find a carousel, shops, cinemas, restaurants, condos, hotel and offices all with a modern design, yet with synergies to the historic downtown. 

Helena is proud of its vibrant arts scene that includes one of the oldest art walk programs in the country, the Holter Museum of Art, Archie Bray Foundation for Ceramic Arts, numerous commercial art galleries and a diverse performing arts community. 

Parrot Confectionary (42 N. Last Chance Gulch)

Parrot Confectionary was founded in 1922 and has become a Helena landmark.  This family-owned candy/soda/diner offers 130 different types of candies, including hand-made chocolates made on-site. They are also famous for their secret chili recipe, hand-made ice cream shakes and caramel cashew sundaes.  We had one of the best hot coco drinks ever on a cool autumn day.   

Like Barnes Jewelry, this place is like a museum with artifacts everywhere.

Drop in some coins and listen to some old time music while enjoying a shake. 

  Just one of hundreds of tantelizing treats.  

Just one of hundreds of tantelizing treats. 

Where to Stay and Eat?

Helena offers all of the typical roadside chain hotels, but our favourite is the Red Lion Colonial Hotel that is literally just minutes off the highway and minutes from downtown, the Capitol Building district and other shopping.  

We love it unique, grand curved colonial stairway in the lobby. It is a pleasant surprise in the middle of the mountains. 

While the Red Lion has a nice restaurant, another favourite option of ours is Bullman's Woodfired Pizza (1130 Helena Ave, in the triangle created by Helena, Montana and Boulder Streets). This great family dining spot, doesn't look like much but the pizza and salads are very good. For example, the Bitterroot (all the pizza names have a link to the Montana's geography) has pistachios, red onion, rosemary, mozzarella cheese, olive oil and sea salt.  Wine selection here is very easy - red or white - but they do have some nice craft beers by the bottle. 

  Red Lion Colonial Hotel's white grand staircase (28 steps) is charming and inviting. A great photo opportunity.

Red Lion Colonial Hotel's white grand staircase (28 steps) is charming and inviting. A great photo opportunity.

Footnotes: University of Arizona, Resort vs Research

By Richard White, April 10, 2014

One of the things we love to do when exploring a new city is to check out its university or college, especially if it is adjacent to downtown.  Experience has shown us that in most cases, you will find lots of urban vitality (pedestrians, cafes, galleries, shops, pubs, live music, etc) in and around urban post-secondary schools.

The University of Arizona in Tucson did not disappoint. In fact, it exceeded our expectations. What we thought might be a 3-hour morning flaneur turned out to be an all-day walkabout.

Visitor Center

As we entered the campus, we saw the  Visitor Center (yes, they have their own visitor center) and decided to drop in and see if they had a map and some suggestions for lesser known places to explore. Yes, I know flaneurs are supposed to just wander with no particular place to go.  

The front desk person was very helpful - at first, she pointed out all the obvious things to see and do - they even have a brochure "Things to Do at the U!"  However, when we asked for some hidden gems, she suggested the School of Pharmacy which has a museum of sorts spread out over two buildings and on various floors.  

Brenda, having read the College of Optical Sciences is the world's premier institute of its kind, asked if there were any displays of artifacts there. We were told there might be, but a good place to check out was the Flandrau Science Centre and Planetarium with its great mineral collection. We had also read that the Creative Photography Center had the largest collection of photographs in the world, so thought this might be a place to check out.

We ended up leaving the Visitor Center with a map with 12 places to check out.  The Museum of Art turned out to be a bit of a dud as there was an installation in progress and the gallery attendant wasn't clear what exhibitions were open to visitors. 

Across the street was the Photography Centre which was very interesting and free. It was too bad that we were the only people there.  Next, we headed to the Architecture and Landscape Architecture building next door. It was a bit more animated with students coming and going, as well as an exhibition of drawings and sculptures in the lobby. Exiting the building, we happened upon a wonderful garden oasis that is a serene setting to study or chat with a friend. 

Schaefer Poetry Center 

Aiming for what I thought was the Pottery Centre, turned out to the the Poetry Center (a case of middle-age eyes).  Glad for the misread.  It is one of only three such centers in North America, the others being in New York City and Chicago. 

The building has a wonderful soft light that makes for a great place to read, write and reflect. In fact, they have a residence as part of the center for visiting writers or special guests. Though it is a non-circulating library, the public is invited to read the books on site in the lovely indoor and outdoor reading areas.  In addition to the 70,000 poetry-related items in their collection, the Center also has an engaging exhibition of handmade artist's books by Alice Vinson. They even have a charming children's section with a huge blackboard inviting the kids to create their own poetry.  

This the kind of stuff we love to sniff out - art, architecture and ambience.  The Poetry Centre is definitely a hidden gem.

The Poetry Center's indoor/outdoor working spaces are separated by an intriguing two-story slanted wood and glass wall.

First of three examples from Alice Vinson's exhibition.

A single page from one of the books.

"Less Than" art book cover

Pharmacy Museum

Moving on, we quickly found the College of Pharmacy, but there were two buildings so we were unsure which one had the museum.  Luckily, there was an outdoor lunch event and we were able ask a staff member who told us there were lithographs on the second floor of one building and the museum in the other.  She tried to find us a self-guided tour booklet, but they didn't have any in the first building. 

With a couple of false turns and sneaking into a keyed door, we found the lithographs nicely displayed in a hallway. It turns out there was 40 lithos depicting the "Great Moments in Pharmacy." For more details, see photo below. 

We then wandered over to the other building and asked about the self-guided tour booklet. They didn't have any, but they kindly photocopied an electronic copy and off we went (persistence pays off).  There were major displays on all four floors, as well as lots of glass cabinet vignettes with themed artifacts in the hallways. The highlight was the 102-drawer wood pharmacy cabinet used in the '50s to store natural medicines (see photos below). 

Depending on your interest, you could easily spend an hour or more at this museum.  We can't believe it isn't in the "Things to Do at the U" brochure.

Louis Hebert was the first Canadian apothecary. He settled in Port Royal, Nova Scotia in 1605.

This is one of two walls lined with the "Great Moments in Pharmacy" lithographs. 

On one floor, there is a mock old time drug store that you can walk around and into.

The use of show globes (like this yellow glass one) dates back four centuries as a symbol of pharmaceutical and medical care. Sailors landing in English ports knew that a show globe in a store window meant medical treatment was available there.  In America, a red show globe could mean the town had some kind of quarantine or disease while a green one indicated the town was healthy.  Dick Wiedhopf, Curator, History of Pharmacy Museum, informed us in an email that "pharmacists took great pride in creating colours for their show globes. There are several books on how to make these colours, but today we use common food colouring. The yellow colour has not meaning, other than it is attractive." 

One can only wonder what pharmacists used poisons for in the 19th century.

Homeopathic medicines such as Humphreys Specifics were common in drugstore windows at the turn of the century.  Customers ordered by the number printed on the display box. 

During the 19th century, pharmacies were places to meet and socialize.  In addition to medical care, in the past drugstores have offered everything from pinball to punchboard games (like the one above) to entertain and attract customers.  Ironically, we purchased a game similar to this one for $5 in a Las Vegas Goodwill a week earlier. 

On the fourth floor elevator lobby is a 102-drawer '50s cabinet filled with natural plant and mineral products along with vintage medicinal bottles and fascinating details about how natural products were used. Note: the cabinet is located next to the College's modern natural products lab. 

The doors pull out and then swing open. 

Each file is full of artifacts and information.  Brenda wanted to take one home.

Just one of hundreds of artifacts that document the evolution of pharmacy over the past two centuries. 

The Resort Campus

Then it was off for some lunch at the Student Union Building to hang out with the students.  It was abuzz with students, dressed and acting like they were at the beach - tank tops, short shorts and flip flops (it was +30 Celsius). The campus is full of outdoor patio seating with shade umbrellas that enhance the resort ambience.  The only thing missing was the beach and pool. The campus has a huge pedestrian mall with thousands of students walking, biking and hanging out. The animation reminded us Frankfurt's green beach and Calgary's downtown Stephen Avenue Walk on a hot day.

It had the best campus buzz I have every experienced. I would also have to say it has the most active bike culture I have seen to date including Portland, Oregon. 

Just one of many resort-like seating areas.

The central pedestrian mall is a beehive of people moving from building to building. With the palm trees and sand, the only thing missing is the water. Students had set up three slack lines that made for a circus-like atmosphere. The UofA's Central Mall is the Champs-Elysees of university campuses. 

This is the penthouse study area in the College of Optical Sciences building. 

Cycling is a popular mode of transportation on the UofA campus.  The bike racks, like these ones on the central mall are well used. 

Museum of Optics (MOO)

Founded in 1964, The College of Optical Sciences (OSC) located in the Meinel Optical Sciences building is the world's premier institute of optics - three faculty members have won a Nobel Prize. The MOO was established in 2011 but the college started the collection in 2003. Today, it holds more than 700 antique and historic instruments, some built as long ago as the 1700s. 

MOO also has a self-guided handout.  Fortunately, they aren't too hard to find; just look for the display rack on the ground level lobby.  The tour starts here, directing you to go up to the eighth floor and work your way down. 

The building not only has a cache of optical instruments that includes telescopes, microscopes, binoculars, sextants, eyewear and opera glasses, but a penthouse lounge with the best view of the campus (see photo above.)  

Sculpture  by Don Cowen from a block of unannealed pyrex; portion of a pour by Corning Glass works, circa 1935.  

A close up look into the "Desert Flower" glass sculpture in the lobby.

There is an entire display cabinet of glass crystal.

The "Sphere" sculpture in the lobby captures what is happening outside on the mall and inverts it to the viewer.

A few of hundreds of binoculars in the collection.

Who knew there were so many different opera glasses?

Just one of several vintage camera and camera accessory display cases.

This telescope, made by Italian Domenico Selva Venezia in 1710, is believed to be one of the oldest telescopes in the world. 

  The six-story window well that brings light into the lobby of the building creates a futuristic, periscope-like space.

The six-story window well that brings light into the lobby of the building creates a futuristic, periscope-like space.

Footnotes

Pretty much every major city has a history museum, a science centre, a museum of art and a garden of some sort, but how many have a Poetry Centre, Museum of Pharmacy or Museum of Optics?  

In hindsight, I wish we had spent 30 minutes reading and trying to write some poetry as I felt the Poetry Center had an inspirational vibe. The same could be said for the Architecture & Landscape Architecture garden. 

I have toured a lot of post-secondary campuses over the years and would have to say the University of Arizona's campus was one of the most interesting with its animated, resort-like student areas contrasting with its quiet, contemplative research spaces.  A perfect concoction!

If you like this blog, you might like:

Flaneuring Bow Valley College

The dirt on the Museum of Clean 

 

Discover Calgary's past and present on foot

By Richard White, March 21, 2014

Calgary has a rich history of notable historians Hugh Dempsey, Jack Peach, Max Foran and David Finch; Harry Sanders follows in this tradition.  He has worked at the Calgary Public Library, the City of Calgary Archives, the Jewish Historical Society of Southern Alberta, and the Glenbow Library & Archives. Since 1995, Harry has been a self-employed historical consultant, contract researcher and freelance writer.

He is the author of Watermarks: One Hundred Years of Calgary Waterworks (2000), Calgary's Historic Union Cemetery: A Walking Guide (2002). The Story Behind Alberta Names: How Cities, Towns, Villages and Hamlets Got Their Names (2003), Historic Walks of Calgary (2005) and Calgary Transit: A Centennial History (2009).

From 1996 to 1999, Harry continued the late Jack Peach's 'Looking Back' column in the Calgary Sun. From 2006 to 2009, Harry appeared weekly on CBC Radio One as 'Harry the Historian'. In 2012, the Calgary Heritage Authority appointed him Calgary’s “historian Laureate.”

Sanders' 2005 book Historic Walks of Calgary is still the definitive book on our city’s urban history.  The book’s 517 pages contain ten walks that could easily fill out your entire summer.

The ten historic walks are:

  1. Civic Centre and Stephen Avenue
  2. Downtown, Eau Claire and Chinatown
  3. East Village, Fort Calgary, Inglewood and Ramsay
  4. The Beltline
  5. Warehouse District and Victoria Park
  6. Uptown 17th Avenue, Lower Mount Royal and 14th Street SW
  7. Cliff Bungalow / Mission
  8. Mount Royal
  9. Hillhurst/Sunnyside
  10. Bridgeland Riverside Renfrew and Crescent Heights

Each walk has a map with identified places to stop with photos and in-depth historical information about the building, people and events associated with the area. For example the Civic Centre and Stephen Avenue walk has 42 stops over eight blocks.

While the book is almost 10 years old now, most of the information is still accurate.  It is interesting to look at the photos and see how the streets and surrounding buildings have changed.

Even if you don’t use the book to go for a walk, the book is still a fascinating read, for example did you know that when the Kraft Block (now McDonald’s) was renovated in the mid ‘90s the damaged bricks in the façade were simply removed turned around and replaced.  How simple is that?

David Peyto

David Peyto walks under the radar as one of Calgary’s more interesting writers, perhaps because he self publishes his books.  He is the author of six books to date,  two look at walks from Calgary’s south and northwest LRT stations and four look at Calgary’s parks and green spaces.  These books should be in every Calgarians library. You can purchase them on PayPal on his website www.peytolakebooks.com or pick one up at one of his spring and summer guided walks (see below).

I thought I’d give you my Coles Notes of Peyto’s walks to entice you to get the books and get out and walk around your city, after a long, long winter hibernation.

Walk Calgary’s Escarpments and Bluffs

This book consists of 16 connected walks that range from 8 to 15 kilometers.  Peyto gives you maps, places to park and photos to help guide you along the way.   When I asked him what his favourite walk in this book was, or perhaps a hidden gem he immediately said “I love the Riley Park to Fort Calgary walk.”  The route begins in Riley Park and passes Crescent Park, Rotary Park and Tom Campbell’s Hill before finishing at Fort Calgary. The route is very scenic with spectacular views of the downtown skyline.

Peyto thinks there should be a series of plaques along the top of Calgary’s escarpments describing the history of the area that you can see and also listing current points of interest. Sounds like a good project for communities, corporations and Tourism Calgary to partner on.

Calgary LRT Walks – The Northwest Stations

This book has 36 different walks from the nine stations from Sunnyside to Tuscany.  The walks range in length form 2 to 11 km. Peyto’s favourite walk is the Sunnyside Short Loop that meanders along 9th Avenue where all the houses on the north side of the road had to be removed in the late 1940s and early 1950s when the slope started to slide. You can still see evidence of the old home sites like hedges, part of a picket fence and old sidewalk.

Calgary LRT Walks – The South Stations

Peyto takes you on 38 different walks (2 to 12 km) from Stampede Station to Somerset/Bridal Wood. In addition to giving you information on what to look for along the way, he also provides ideas for food and drink and washrooms.  He thinks of everything.

My favourite walk is from Erlton/Stampede Station which takes you through the scenic Reader Rock Gardens and then meanders through or by five cemeteries; Union, Burnsland, Chinese, Jewish and St. Mary’s.

Discover Calgary’s Parks and Green Spaces

Peyto has three books with this title, one for southwest, southeast and north respectively.  The Southwest book identifies 106 locations including places for a picnic, bird watching and quiet places for a bit of peace and solitude.  The Southeast book has 60 locations including river escarpments, community parks and natural areas.  The North book has 90 special places which includes gardens, ravines and key viewpoints. 

Peyto Guided Walks

Sun May 4th at 1:30 pm      

Peyto will do a presentation about walking for the Calgary Public Library. This will be followed by the Jane’s Walk listed below.

Sun. May 4th at 3 pm. Jane’s Walk – Victoria Park Survivors

The walk starts at Central Branch of the library and finishes at Victoria Park/Stampede Station. He will be looking at some of the old houses and apartment buildings that have survived all the changes as this area gets a mega makeover.

Sun May 11th at 1:30 pm

Sunnyside LRT Walk for Calgary Public Library will meet at Louise Riley Library and ride the train to Sunnyside to the start of the walk.

Sat May 31st at 1:30 pm      

Starting at Memorial Park Library; this walk will look at historic buildings in old Victoria Park area of what is now called the Beltline. 

Historic Calgary Week Walks

  • Sunalta LRT Walk, Mon July 28th at 9:30 am.
  • Victoria Park/Stampede LRT Walk, Wed July 30th at 9:30 am.
  • Sunalta LRT Walk, Friday, August 31 at 9:30 am (different route than July 28th)

Meet at the station for these walks, there is no pre-registration. Remember to wear appropriate clothing and bring some water. All walks are about 1.5 to 2 hours.

Last Word

I love to walk, as every good flaneur should.  I used to walk from Crowchild Trail and 5th Avenue NW to downtown almost every day year round when I was the Executive Director of the Calgary Downtown Association for 12 years.  If you really want to get to know yourself and your community, spend some time walking in your community or maybe in a new community. I love walking alone, it allows me to reflect on the past, the present and the future. Walk alone and I guarantee you will learn a lot!

If you like this blog, you might like:

Treasure Hunting on Grassi Lake Trail

Calgary's Secret Heritage Stroll

Being an everyday tourist 

Calgary: City of Parks & Pathways

The dirt on the Museum of Clean

By Richard White, March 20, 2014

The concept of clean dominates our everyday lives like never before in the history of mankind.  We wash our hands several times a day and brush our teeth and floss at least twice a day.  We shower and bath daily.  We have numerous TV shows and books about how de-cluttering our homes will make us happier and healthier.  Children today learn about the importance of a clean planet and clean environment in elementary school.

Well, one man has taken the concept of clean to a higher level and created his own museum to house his personal collection of over 5,000 clean related objects and to share his encyclopedia of knowledge of the subject of clean both globally and historically.

Mr. Clean cardboard cut-out. 

Who is this guy?

Don Aslett, chairman of Varsity Contractors Ltd. (a janitorial services company he founded with his brother in 1957), is so committed to the importance of the concept clean in our society that he bought and renovated an 75,000 square foot, six-floor old warehouse building in Pocatello Idaho’s Old Town to create his Museum of Clean.  His commitment to clean includes renovating the building to LEED Platinum standards; this means the building’s renovations and operations are of the highest standards for both energy efficient and environmentally friendly use and recycling of materials.  

 In addition to collecting over 5,000 clean related objects going back 2,000 years, he has written over 35 books, including Clutter's Last Stand and Do I Dust or Vacuum First? Aslett is an octogenarian who would put most GenYers to shame, working a 14-hour day, seven days a week.

More often than not, when you visit the Museum of Clean, Aslett will be there and don’t be surprised if he gives you a private tour of all or part of his collection.

Don pushing Brenda in his wheel-chair garbage can. The museum is full of fun and kitsch. 

About the Museum

The Museum of Clean is pure clean fun for all ages with over 5,000 fun and quirky artifacts.  Young kids and even teens love to get “vacuumed off” before they enter the 30 foot high, green “Kids Planet” cage, where they will learn all about saving the planet. Then there is Noah’s Ark where everyone gets to learn everything they wanted to know but were afraid to ask about “importance of water.”

There are over 50 hands-on activities; this in not a “stuffy museum” with grouchy security guards telling you to be quiet and not to touch.   Test your skills using different floor polishers - it is not as easy as it looks, perhaps grandma can show you how!  Seniors get to reminisce about the good old days of hand-ringer washers, hanging clothes outside to dry and bathing once a week (sometimes in the same water as your other siblings).  There is also a great film on the history of clean that will bring back memories – good and bad!

Dads might be interested to know that Cadillac used to make a vacuum or he might like showing off his muscles trying to lift the 60-pound vacuum cleaner with one hand.  Kids love the “cleaning windows” activity area. This can come in handy when you do you next get around to cleaning your windows at home or in the car.

In addition, there are over 30 photo stops, so make sure your phone is fully charged as photography is encouraged.

Top ten reasons you should visit the Museum of Clean:

  1. It might well be the most fun you've ever had in a museum?  
  2. The whole family gets in for 15 bucks.    
  3. Where else can you see a prison toilet and a model used by Queen Elizabeth the First to do a #2?    
  4. The kids can literally get their nosed dirty, learning about what life was like for chimney sweeps in the 19th century. Bet they don’t complain about cleaning their room after that.  
  5. You think your life sucks. Try owning over 300 vacuums, most are pre-electric and one weighs over 60 pounds.
  6. Husbands will love and wives will hate the rocking chair vacuum.
  7. Kids are responsible for making sure their parents don’t run in the museum.  
  8. Don’t worry you don’t have to take your shoes off at the front door.
  9. You get to see a garage that is more cluttered than yours!
  10. Don Aslett is a really nice guy.

As part of the extensive collection of mops, there is a mop bra.

One of the over 50 hands-on activities.  

Yes, this was the cadillac of vacuums in its day.

The Kid's Planet at the entrance to the museum allows children to run off their excess energy.

Prison toilet

Last Word

Don’t just believe us - Trip Advisor, American Automobile Association and American Association of Retired Persons have all made the Museum of Clean their #1 pick of places to visit in Pocatello, Idaho.

Our #2 pick is to visit Main Street, Old Town, Pocatello (just a few blocks away) to check out the early 20th late and 19th century architecture, neon signs and ghost signs (those old painted billboards that have faded over the years).  It is a photographer's dream with some great old neon signs.  You can print out self-guided walking tour maps on the Old Town website. Best time to visit is on Saturdays from May to October when the farmer's market is in full swing. 

The Paris building is one of numerous restored buildings in Pocatello's Old Town. 

One of the many faded advertising murals that were painted on the sides of buildings in the early 20th century.

One of the many historic neon signs that are being restored as part of the revitalization of Pocatello's charming Old Town.