Lewis & Clark

lewis-clark

Whether it’s sidewalks or trail treks, this active community is bustling with activity.

In this kid-friendly and family-oriented neighborhood, it’s no wonder Lewis & Clark Elementary School is the central hub. In fact, much of the immediate recreation was built around the school, including tennis courts, playgrounds, and several soccer fields. Sidewalks connect the variety of homes in this traditional 1950′s and 60′s neighborhood. Everyone seems to be out for a walk. Mixing, mingling, and the occasional leash entanglement just happen as neighbors congregate to enjoy the sunny Montana skies. New parents with their strollers pass older couples who raised their own families in this neighborhood. There’s a strong pride in the primarily owner-occupied homes with families tending to their gardens, landscaping the front walkways, and working on general upkeep. It’s less of a competition and more of a social event to wave a gardening-gloved hand at a neighbor across the way and share a common sentiment in these parts, “Nice day, isn’t it?”

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The Lewis & Clark Neighborhood is a place of discovery, right in your own backyard.

lewis-clark-live-herePlayfair Park and the summertime favorite, Splash Montana, draw adults and kids alike. Playfair’s tennis courts are almost always full and the soccer fields are bustling every day of the week with either youth leagues or adult enthusiasts still looking for a kick. And you can’t miss the colorful tower of waterslides rising above Splash Montana. This newly constructed outdoor water park is managed by Missoula Parks and Recreation and is a landmark for the southeast side of town. In addition to the slides, Splash boasts a relaxing lazy river pool, a shallow area with fantastical play structures for young children, and lap lanes for the serious swimmers.

lewis-clark-live-here-2Near Sentinel High School is Spartan Park, named for the high school’s mascot, with more playing fields and an outdoor track. There are also a couple of lesser-known treasures in the Lewis & Clark neighborhood, including the peaceful duck pond by the Albertson’s on Southwest Higgins. This wetlands area has been preserved among commercial businesses and is home to feathered friends and those with fins too. Neighbors also frequent Lester Park. At one time Pattee Creek flowed by this neighborhood park. The creek is central Missoula’s last truly wild trout stream and contains genetically pure Westslope cutthroats, one of Montana’s native trout species. Restoration efforts are still underway to extend this habitat from Pattee Canyon into town.

Lewis & Clark Elementary has several projects that spark learning beyond the classroom.The Outdoor Discovery Core is a hands-on natural studies area, which includes a water-wise native plant garden, a rock garden, and bird habitats for students to study and understand Montana’s natural plants, geological features, and wildlife in their own backyards. In addition, students raised money and built the Peace Path on the school grounds. Over 700 river rocks were collected on which children wrote their own messages of peace to be viewed by those on the path. Although not directly in the neighborhood, Lewis & Clark residents tend to a community garden plot nearby in the University area. Additional learning opportunities abound at The University of Montana-College of Technology near Sentinel High School on South Avenue. The COT, for short, offers classes ranging from computer technology to radiology to the culinary arts.

Just west of the COT, Lewis & Clark neighbors are within easy walking distance of the Western Montana Fairgrounds, which is currently under consideration for a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Every August, fair week delivers the sounds of the rodeo and the smells of the indulgent summer fair food, including the famous Tater Pig or the Viking, a regally named meatball on a stick, sold by The Sons of Norway. Even in the winter months, the fairgrounds are hopping at Glacier Ice Rink, home of the Missoula Maulers hockey team. The ice rink is open for public skating and recreational hockey leagues as well. The fairgrounds have been a central gathering place in Missoula since the turn of the century – the 20th century that is.

In addition to being a family-centric neighborhood, Lewis & Clark is also conveniently close to several businesses, including two grocery stores. A local favorite is Pattee Creek Market, which is known for it’s excellent seafood selection and natural foods. Of course, after a long day of yard work or splashing in the pool, the Dairy Queen in the nearby Rose Park Neighborhood attracts quite a few neighbors. Many residents participate in their own commercial endeavors in the form of garage sales on Saturday and Sunday mornings in the summer and fall. Some folks find themselves in a continuous buying and selling cycle with other neighbors and might see the same items for sale rotating around the neighborhood. The neighborhood also hosts an annual block party to bring families together to celebrate.

Nearby, residents can cross Higgins and easily walk the “back way” up Mount Sentinel, entering at the south trailhead. Further east, they can bike, hike, and cross-country ski in the Pattee Canyon Recreation Area.

The Lewis & Clark community begins the civic engagement process early. Elementary school students are involved in the Pennies for Peace program, which raises money – one penny at a time – to help fund education efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Students wanted to expand upon the program and create something within the school grounds that would inspire thought and action related to peace. The concept for the Peace Path started in two classrooms and was embraced by the entire school and volunteer partners throughout the community. Read more about the project and the Pennies for Peace program here.

The College of Technology has taken a new look at traditional school lunch. Students in the culinary arts program can practice their skills and serve their creations to the community at large in the Hunter Dining Room located in the COT Administration Building on South Avenue. Find out more about the varying lunch menu offerings and hours here.

Beyond the flashing lights of the Midway, and the temptations of the food booths, there is an authentic charm that echoes through the structures of the Western Montana Fairgrounds. The year could be 1955 or 2005, as you peruse the prize-winning livestock or the showcased local businesses and political candidates in the commercial building. There is history in these whitewashed walls. Although it may not be the bold and sweeping kind, it’s nestled in that important part of all Missoulians, somewhere between fond memory and nostalgia. Efforts are being made to preserve this history by placing the fairgrounds on the National Register of Historic Places. Read more about these efforts here.

Many of us remember the various ways we kept up on the comings and goings of our hometowns and neighborhoods. Whether it was through the grapevine, a community group, or the weekly newspaper, we had a resource for information and an outlet to share our thoughts. The LiveMissoula! neighborhood blogs revisit that concept in a new way by providing an open, online destination where neighborhood stories can be posted and shared. To contribute to the discussion, we encourage you to add your comments. If you have an idea for a story, contact the Neighborhood Volunteer Advocate listed under each neighborhood’s Fast Facts pages.