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The hills of Glacier are alive…with the sound of music: Although the von Trapp children didn’t cross the Swiss Alps to avoid Nazi oppression, they did cross the Rocky Mountains to sing in Montana.

Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and Justin are the great-grandchildren of Captain von Trapp, the father of the famous singing family that defied Nazi Germany through song in the Sound of Music. Since 1990, the family has been living in Kalispell, and since 1997, the kids have been singing their hearts out around the country, most recently at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park.

Ranging in age from seven to 13, these vocal wunderkind have already put out their own CD, produced locally at the University of Montana. It has a few of your favorite things, including “The Lonely Goatherd,” “Edelwiess” and “Amazing Grace.”

After mastering their scales, the children began their performing careers at their grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. They’ve gone straight up from there. They’ve opened for such luminaries as George Winston and have been on the same ticket as Peter, Paul and Mary.

The quartet will give their final local performance on July 28 at Lake McDonald. From there they travel to New York City to sing in America’s Music Festival, MusikFest. They will join more than 300 performers from around the globe, including Blue Oyster Cult and The Guess Who.

When they aren’t being subjected to obscure Sound of Music, references, the children enjoy hiking, skiing, soccer, huckleberry picking, and helping in the garden.

At last, the complete story behind the name “rest stop.” Last week archeologists working at Travelers’ Rest State Park in Lolo made an important discovery regarding more of the, er, historical movements of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery. After just two days of excavating, archeologists there unearthed what they believe is a latrine once used by L&C’s merry band of wanderers as they kicked back at the foot of the Bitterroots.

Daniel Hall, the historical archeologist leading the research project, theorized that if the expedition’s latrine were found, it would contain traces of mercury from a product known as Dr. Rush’s Thunderbolts, a common expedition cure-all of the day, which was composed of 60 percent mercury. Back in the early 1800s, it was believed that when the body is diseased it must be thoroughly scoured—inside and out. The 19th century marketing team for “Dr. Rush” was truly on top of its game when it named this snake oil, as it was reputedly a most thunderous laxative that left consumers rushing for the nearest outhouse. Never mind that it probably served to only weaken the patient even further, and may have caused mercury poisoning, which manifests itself with shaking of the hands, eyelids, lips or jaw, headaches, difficulty sleeping, personality changes, memory loss, irritability, indecisiveness and loss of intelligence. All things considered, it’s a miracle Lewis and Clark found anything besides their boots every morning.

Since the body dumps mercury through urine, archeologists had good reason to believe they’d struck poo dirt when they found a subsurface rectangular trench containing “silty soil and organic matter” that registered .0145 milligrams of mercury per cubic foot, with no mercury in the surrounding soil. We owe a special thanks to the Travelers’ Rest Preservation and Heritage Association, for making us privy to the latest details about the Corps’ comings and goings.

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