DILLON – Capital of the Beaverhead

By Mark Spero and Rick Graetz Montana’s southwest corner is a realm of lofty mountains, wide sagebrush, and bunchgrass-filled valleys, long on scenery and short on people. Sprawling ranches and public lands dominate. South of Butte, Dillon, population 4,300, in the heart of the Beaverhead Valley, is the only town of size in this part … Read more

Helena The Capital Town’s Beginnings

Last Chance Gulch 1874

Excerpted from the book “Helena: Capital Town” by Rick and Susie Graetz As the story goes, by the summer of 1863, word from Montana had it that Alder Gulch was bearing chunks of gold that could be plucked from the ground by any cotton-picker. Easier pickings than California once offered. In 1863, the power of gold lured people … Read more

The Richest Hill on Earth

By Lindsay Mulcahy with Jocelyn Dodge and Rick Graetz | Office of Research and Creative Scholarship | O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain Front | University of Montana “Butte is different from all the cities of the world. There is only one Butte—there will never be another. Those who know her love her and wouldn’t … Read more

Lincoln, Montana—Base Camp to the Crown of the Continent

Main Street Lincoln, Montana

By Patrick Shea with Susie Graetz  |  University of Montana A limited human presence, single main street, towering ponderosa pine trees reaching up toward snow covered peaks, a lumber jack atmosphere, and a ranger station is what someone from the east might envision when asked to describe a Montana town. This is Lincoln in reality! … Read more

Gold Creek—A Montana Original

Clark Fork Valley

By Ruth Little with Rick and Susie Graetz  |  Office of Research and Creative Scholarship  |  University of Montana Sixty miles east of Missoula on Interstate 90, at milepost 166, a highway marker shows an exit for Gold Creek. In the absence of signs designating this as a significant spot in Montana’s chronicles, motorists zip … Read more

Last Tango in Melrose

Last Tango in Melrose, Montana

By Dan Vichorek | Reprinted from a 1981 Montana Magazine article and also an essay in the book Last Tango in Melrose Montana available from Far Country Press, Helena, Montana A friend of mine who pummels a guitar in a country-western band was telling me how music lovers almost killed him in Melrose one New … Read more

Virginia City—Montana’s First Incorporated Town

By Rick and Susie Graetz | Office of Research and Creative Scholarship | University of Montana By Rick and Susie Graetz  |  Office of Research and Creative Scholarship  |  University of Montana Returning home to Bannack from a gold-searching trip in the Yellowstone Valley, six tired prospectors were captured by the Crow Indians. Had it … Read more

Philipsburg and The Flint Creek Valley: Silver and Sapphires


By Patrick Shea In the 1860s, as large deposits of gold, silver, copper, and other valuable minerals were discovered in Granite County, many mining settlements sprung up along creek beds and mountainsides. As a reminder of that frenzied search for prosperity, today, 24 ghost towns are left scattered throughout the county. The town of Philipsburg, … Read more

Naming Helena

By Tom Palmer The Helena Herald now, for the second or third time, prints the record of the proceedings at a meeting held in Last Chance, which ought to effectively settle the matter. —Helena Herald, February 13, 1892 Excerpted from the book Helena: Capital Town by Rick and Susie Graetz The matter of how Helena received its … Read more