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Antique Fords, old Montana prison on a detour to Deer Lodge.

Incongruous next-door neighbors, the Towe Antique Ford Collection and the Old Montana Territorial Prison stand on Main Street in Deer Lodge, Montana. The first attraction memorializes man's ingenuity, the second his socially undersirable traits. But both make Deer Lodge worth a stop if you're taking Interstate 90 on your way to or from Glacier or Yellow-stone National Park. Deer Lodge is about 40 miles northwest of Butte.

The Towe antique Ford Collection started as a hobby for a banker, who spent his youth tinkering with Model T's. Now it numbers over 150 vintage Fords.

The glistening rows of restored cars let you track Henry Ford's astonishing progression through the automotive alphabet: from the 1903 Model A (his first producttion vehicle), through the unsuccessful Model B, the Model K luxury car, the Model N (the first successful four-cylinder vehicle), and then in 1908, the Model T. Ford built 15 million of them by 1927, in most years pricing them less than the year before.

Ford's next triumph, the new Model A, is well represented too, as are dozens of later vehicles, including a 1925 Lincoln Phaeton with "bootlegger's spotlight" --a model favored by both Chicago gangsters and Chicago police.

The Old Montana Territorial Prison looms to the north. The prison received its first inmate in 1871 and transferred its last in 1979. Inside the Gothic sandstone walls, there are 12 buldings, some built entirely (down to the very bricks) by prisoners. The hourly tours through the cell-blocks, the maximum-security area, and the prison yard are grim but compelling. It's almost impossible not to pound your fist against the walls imagining what it would be like if you weren't going to leave at the tour's end.

The prison and the Towe Collection are open daily 8 to 8. Admission to each is $3.50 for adults, $1.50 for ages 6 to 17 (admission to both is $6 for adults, $2 for children). From Interstate 90 in Deer Lodge, take the Main street exit. For more information, call (406) 846-3111.
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Date:May 1, 1984
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