Photograph by Lynn Donaldson
Jersey Lilly Bar and Cafe, Ingomar
“Coming into the Jersey Lilly is a step back in time to the Old West,” says co-owner and manager June Nygren. The bar, named in honor of the Langtry, Texas, saloon (which doubled as a courthouse in the 1880s) owned by legendary jurist Roy Bean, is located just off Highway 12 in Ingomar. Sleepy Ingomar has 14 full-time residents and little else beyond the historic Jersey Lilly, which has been continuously operating (under various owners) as a bar since 1933. The history, the hearty food—specialties include bean soup, sheepherders hors d'oeuvres (saltine crackers topped with onion, cheese, and oranges), and Montana steaks—and the outhouses (the only remaining privy restaurant restrooms in the state) continue to draw travelers to this middle-of-nowhere stretch of eastern Montana. As to why an out-of-the-way watering hole is so popular, Nygren replies, “I don't know what to say—people come here simply because they love the Jersey Lilly.”
Montana Bar, Miles City
Montana Bar is the quintessential Wild West watering hole. Opened in 1908, it’s one of the best preserved historic saloons in the state, and its 106-year-old bar includes what’s considered one of the best preserved back bars (the shelves behind the counter) in the West. Sitting on a horsehide seat in one of the cherrywood booths, it’s easy to imagine you’re back in the state’s booming 1900s homesteading days. There’s a bullet hole in the leaded glass, copper ceiling fans, a tin ceiling, a working 1914 National cash register, and an eclectic collection of Miles City artifacts, including grainy pioneer photos and a bighorn sheep mount likely dating to the early 1900s, when wild sheep still roamed the eastern badlands. The Western art on display includes the works of Charlie Russell, Frederick Remington, and L.A. Huffman. Completing the ambiance are trough-style urinals in the men’s room. The bar used to double as a steakhouse but recently returned to its saloon roots. There is pub grub (specialty stuffed burgers, nachos, and chicken wings) on the menu and seven Montana-made microbrews on tap.
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