Circle:  A Great Place To Be Around

Circle: A Great Place To Be Around

July 19, 2011  |  Do, Drive, Eat, history, Shop, Stay, Story, Towns

I was shooting a travel story in eastern Montana a few years ago for the New York Times, and I had always been bothered by that fact that I’d never been to Circle. It’s only 46 miles from Glendive on Highway 200 and 59 from Terry on Hwy 253, so when I finished my assignment, I hightailed it to this speck of a town.

Circle has about 600 residents and is the McCone County Seat. If they ever remake The Last Picture Show, they can just come to Circle and skip hiring a set builder; it’s a visual throwback to another era. Even some of the trucks that are parked haphazardly around town would make good props.

There’s a webpage titled “85 Things To Do Around Circle For Less Than $10”. The very clever list includes, “Play Horse Shoes in the Park”; “See the Vintage Clothes at Family Heirlooms”; “Buy A Shot of Liquor from Midland Lumber & Home Renovation Supplies”; (???!!!!) and “Have Your Blood Pressure Checked at the McCone Clinic”. Where to start?!

The first business I pulled in front of, Farm Equipment Sales, is one of the best John Deere Implements I have ever found. I have a five-year-old son who LOVES tractors…so, oddly enough, I find myself frequenting John Deere stores. I bought several Johnny Tractor illustrated books, four green & yellow trademarked sippie cups, a toy lawn mower, a wheelbarrow and several teething rings shaped like ears of corn for my twin babies. (Who knew you could tick your husband off by going hog wild with the joint checkbook in a town like Circle?!)

I loved the LunchBox, where you can get deli sandwiches, wraps and espresso drinks—as well as tan and have your nails done. Talk about consolidating errands! Nearby, JoAnne’s Boutique (embed this link: ) stocks clothing, jewelry, cowgirl hats and even Montana-crafted, hand-thrown pottery.

I just love the DIY mentality of whomever fabricated the cement dinosaurs gracing town.  No, they’re not authentic-looking. In fact, they more closely resemble Dino from the Flintstones than the state-of-the art replicas down the road in Glendive…but they’ve got heart.   You can tell a Circle native rolled up his or her sleeves and said, “By gosh, this is Dinosaur Country. We need some dinosaurs around town!”…then walked directly to hardware store and got busy. Here’s one by a gas station that certainly makes a good photo op.

This “installation”, my favorite pile of dinosaurs in Circle, is in the yard of the McCone County Museum. I’m pretty sure that they’re supposed to be fighting, but I can’t help but think, “Crustaceous Caligula,” when I look at it.

Speaking of the McCone County Museum (open May 1 through September 30), it’s brimming with 7,000 items of historical interest—including over 200 mounted birds and animals displayed in their natural settings. It also has the one-room Cow Creek Schoolhouse, a prairie church, and the old Northern Pacific Depot. I really loved a room displaying portraits of McCone County ranchers and their brands and saddles.  And, of course, the Crustaceous Caligula scene depicted on the lawn out front is a high point.

Circle’s website says, “In four hours of light traffic you can be in Billings, MT or Bismarck, ND.” So when I got to the edge of town heading southwest on Highway 200, this sign sent shutters up my spine. I knew I was settling in for one loooooong drive back to Livingston. (Anytime a sign puts you XXX miles from Jordon, you’re a long way from anywhere.). Thankfully, the drive winds through jaw-dropping, wide-open country and is nothing short of magnificent.

Who says you need to travel to exotic lands and faraway places to experience the changes and meaningful encounters travel brings? Circle is plenty far. And let me tell you…if you hit the right farm implement, it’s no bargain trip either.

Nuts & Bolts

Circle’s website:

Farm Equipment Sales – Hwy 200 East; 406-485-2145

McCone County Museum – Open May 1 – September 30th; Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm.; 406-485-2414

Joanne’s Boutique – 201 Main Street. Open Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Saturdays 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; 877-485-2577;

LunchBox – 902 MT Hwy 200 West.; 406-485-2386.

Related posts:

  1. Exit Terry
  2. Bison Feast at Chief Plenty Coups Day of Honor


  1. Greetings! I would just like to offer my thanks for the first class information you have here on this post. I will be visiting your website for more cool information in the near future.

    • I appreciate your comment & because I just this a.m. took over as Administrator for my blog…am seeing it for the first time! THANK YOU & I will be posting several times a week (see today’s post)…so stay tuned. And thanks again!

  2. Thanks for the great write up about my home town! I got word of your website via a forwarded email. Glad to hear Circle left such an impression on you to return…


    • Hi Kirk. Thanks for your comment. I apologize that I have not seen it til today! I just took over as Administrator (see today’s post). I absolutely fell in love with Circle. I went through there again in April en route to Wolf Point for a NY Times shoot. It was raining like crazy, and I stopped at that Circle Implement once again and loaded up on John Deere products. Beautiful part of the state. I’ll be blogging a lot more on eastern MT…so stay tuned and keep those comments coming. Where are you now?

  3. Such a nice brief story. Thank you for your recollections of our community.

    • Thank you, Jerry!. I sound like a broken record, but I want you to know that because I wasn’t Administrator of my blog til today…I never saw it til just now. I’ll be blogging several times a week now, and I’d love for you to tune in and keep those comments coming! If you love MT food, travel, people…I’ll be posting on all regularly now. Thanks again!

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