Land Escapes

In the Shadow of Fan Mountain

When the El Western Motel, a historic property near Ennis, Montana, was ready for a bit of modernization, they called Land-Escapes Inc. The owners, John & Kris Hauck, wanted to update their Office Entrance, expand their entertaining area, replace the rickety old bridge, and make a place to host weddings and other events across the creek on the island.

When we arrived on the scene the old bridge was about to fall into the creek, not to mention being in the wrong place. The motel office entrance was outdated and the existing concrete walk and entryway were weathered and severely cracked. On the other side of a part of the Madison River was an island just ripe with potential for the further enjoyment of guest and added revenue. We listened to our clients plans and ideas, got out our design tools and went to work sketching out some preliminary ideas.

We decided that by re-locating the bridge to the other side of the pump house we could create a more convenient and welcoming approach while providing for much better views from its deck. The new bridge has steel girders and rough sawed wood deck. We built the masonry end posts from native rock gathered nearby, and tied the them into a short wall on the island end to keep visitors from straying near the old waterwheel. The new bridge is wide enough for service equipment to cross, and spacious enough to allow guests to linger and enjoy the creek, the waterwheel, and the stunning scenery.

For the entrance to the motel office we set some temporary supports for the roof while we removed all of the existing concrete and prepared the area for its newly designed decorative concrete patio and walks. A modest rock up-cropping in a planter bed helps direct customers to the proper doorway. The rock faced light post is built into a large moss boulder. We installed the owner’s “kerosene lamp” style light fixture that matches many others around the grounds. The entire scene presents a clean and gentle welcoming sight for guest and friend alike.

“Not just a place to stay – a place to make memories.”

El Western – family-owned Montana cabins since 1948.