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Every Bird Has His Day

The real question is: will grandma cook opossum for Thanksgiving this year? Opossum may not be on many Montana menus this Thanksgiving season, but a century ago, serving opossum seems to indicate the height of class. While browsing Chronicling America’s database of Montana newspapers I came across a page from the Thursday, November 24, 1892 […]

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Brother Van

No doubt many people are getting ready for long trips to visit relatives this Thanksgiving, so here’s a story about Brother Van, one of Montana’s most famous travelers. As an itinerant Methodist preacher during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, William Wesley Van Orsdel probably logged more miles crisscrossing the state than anyone else in history. […]

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The Boulder Bath O’Lava

The Richest Hill on Earth…the largest placer deposit in history…Southwest Montana has more than its fair share of mineral wealth. Ever wonder why? The Montana Department of Transportation has a couple of Geological Roadsigns answering that very question, and I’ve summarized them here: The Elkhorn Mountains northwest of Townsend were not always the peaceful mountain […]

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A Philipsburg Afternoon

On Sunday, we spent the afternoon in Philipsburg. Like most towns in Montana, it has calmed down considerably from the summer rush, and while I saw a few other visitors on the street, for the most part the town was very quiet. Our first stop was UpNSmokin Barbecue because by the time we got into […]

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Granite Ghost Story

The wind was picking up. Leaves swirled on the ground, and rattled on the trees. In Granite Ghost Town, high above Philipsburg, the beautiful fall day was quickly turning to winter. The boarded windows of the Mine Superintendent’s house glared out at me as I crept though the trees, looking for good camera shots. Ghostly […]

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Snow Day

A cold wind is sweeping across Southwest Montana and somewhere clouds heavy with snow are forming. Believe it or not, ski season is fast approaching. This post is about a trip I took a few years ago, to my mind the perfect winter weekend. Early one Saturday morning in late January, we started out from […]

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Born of Flame and Ash

In the west, summer means wildfires. From the infamous Mann Gulch fire of 1949 to the 1988 Yellowstone firestorm, Montana’s fires have become the stuff of legends. They have burned themselves into the collective memory of the state, so that someone like me—who was not yet born in 1988—can speak of the Yellowstone fires with […]

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The World’s Most Conspicuous Man

It is impossible to be inconspicuous in Ovando, Montana. This I learned when I drove into town in my flashy rental and there was not another vehicle on the street. I rolled into town around 10:00—the dead hours between breakfast and lunch—and so kept going, following the road to Helmville. The Ovando-Helmville road winds over […]

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“The Uncrowned King of the Celestial Pathfinders” 1

It might seem like another dreary Monday to you, but September 30 has an exciting Montana tale of daring and adventure: By 1911, an aviation craze had utterly engulfed the nation. Air shows happened almost daily, and aviators received celebrity treatment with newspapers studiously recording their every feat. In September of 1911, Helena became added […]

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