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. … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more