South 39th

Easily get where you need to go and find yourself happy at home in the South 39th Street Neighborhood.

It’s not inaccurate to say that the South 39th Street Neighborhood is in the right place, all of the time. Minutes from local grocery stores, movie theaters, schools, and the mall, everything you need is at your fingertips. Pleasantly located in the southwest corner of town, 39th Street’s landscaped center boulevard is also a thoroughfare to the recreation gateway down Highway 93 into the Bitterroot Valley. Head the other direction and you’ll be in Pattee Canyon in just a few minutes. There are also small patches of wildness in this neighborhood, including a great place to bird watch in an unlikely spot just behind a local convenience store. These are the treasures one can expect even in the more populated parts of Missoula. South 39th is also centrally located to half of Missoula’s golf courses as well as ice-skating, hockey, soccer, and baseball. The level landscape, sidewalks, and bike lanes make this major roadway friendly to the cyclists and walkers sharing the road with motorists. Yards, whether large or small, are a place for residents to enjoy the beautiful Missoula weather and see one another passing by. From young families to students to long-time residents, a diverse mix of people live here, which offers so much to so many calling this neighborhood home.

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From golf to grocery shopping, it’s all so close to home.

For your average active Missoulian, South 39th is a base camp providing routes to both recreation and relaxation. You can spend the morning riding your bike up Pattee Canyon nearby and the afternoon indulging in a pedicure at one of several salons on 39th Street. You can take the kids to Splash Montana in Playfair Park or you can watch the ducks splash in the Duck Pond near Albertson’s. In the summertime neighbors will congregate to watch the annual city fireworks display at Southgate Mall to the north or listen for the announcer counting down a rodeo rider’s seconds on the buckin’ bronc at the Western Montana Fairgrounds. In the winter, you can bundle up for a Missoula Maulers hockey game at Glacier Ice Rink or drive back up to Pattee Canyon Recreation Area, this time with the cross country skis in tow. And of course, if golf is your sport, you can easily be the first at the tee box at Linda Vista, Highlands, University, or Larchmont golf courses, all within swinging distance. For children and families, the Missoula YMCA on Russell is a great place to stay fit and join in team sports. There are also several options for daycare in the neighborhood and even a place for pets that may get lonely during the workday or need a place to stay while you’re on vacation. Ready Pet Go is touted as a reliable and caring pet sitter.

Several enhancements in the neighborhood have brought the community together including the expansion of the local fire station and the construction of the new Safeway. Because this area is part of the Pattee Creek drainage, there are many irrigation canals flowing through the neighborhood, which can be used to water lawns and gardens in the summer months. These small waterways are also a fun place for kids to test toy boats and other floatie toys. Small parks and the larger Wapikiya Park behind the neighborhood of the same name provide a place for picnics and play. Wapikiya includes baseball diamonds and basketball courts as well as playground equipment. Unofficially dubbed “cattail park,” the small wetland area behind Noon’s convenience store at the corner of 39th and Russell is an unusual yet pleasant place to hear a cacophony of birdsong while you’re filling up the car on your way to work.  In the summer an old-fashioned ice cream truck parks at the corner of 39th and Russell on the north side of the street. One of their specialties is a true Montana original – the huckleberry sundae.

Rainbow Stables on Rainbow Drive is an equestrian facility that pre-dates the influx of housing in this area. In fact, it’s hard to believe that within the last 50-60 years, 39th Street was still a gravel road. Wildlife is not uncommon in this once rural neighborhood. Ducks from the nearby pond behind Pattee Creek Market and Albertson’s often march along the sidewalks or float in the irrigation canals. Deer are abundant as well and motorists should remain alert even in this busy area. Raccoons and even a rock chuck, which has since been relocated, have been spotted here. It’s definitely worth exploring the residential areas off the beaten path of 39th Street to get a feel for this growing and well-situated neighborhood.

In the late 1950′s and early 1960′s, there were very few houses between Rainbow Drive and Sentinel High School. In fact, school children could simply cut across large fields to get to school. These same fields were also used for massive games of hide and go seek and, in the wintertime, there were tales of mischievous high school boys stockpiling snowballs to throw at the few passing cars on this country road. For conveniences, South 39th had very few at this time. In fact, the closest shopping center was Trempers on Brooks Street. Today there are many grocery and retail stores, including the new Safeway. As the neighborhood became more populated, some of the area children shared in collective grief when they paved Gharrett Street leading up into the South Hills, as it had once been the premier sledding hill in town.

Walt Perry’s Farm, which neighborhood kids called “Perry’s Field,” is now the current home of Meadow Hill School. Residents who have lived in the South 39th Street Neighborhood since childhood remember his menagerie of farm animals and the endless hours spent exploring the field, which was also used as a short cut up to Moose Can Gully.

Within squawk box distance to the South 39th Street Neighborhood, the Western Montana Fair is the one-stop showcase of regional food, civic engagement, culture, and entertainment in the summer. In 2009, one of the many exhibitions at the fair was called “Recipes from Missoula’s Past.” Bringing back the nostalgia of Missoula’s flavors of historical significance included resurrecting the recipe for Bug’s BBQ sauce. This popular gathering place for grilled meats was a hotspot for residents of the South 39th Street Neighborhood.

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.