Monday, November 30, 2009

Heartland ...

Here's another still image from a Montana-made film ... and another railroad shot, since I'm a fan of those.

This is from the opening of an obscure 1979 art-house film called Heartland, which was based on an autobiographical volume called Letters of a Woman Homesteader. It's a powerful and poignant movie about a pioneer woman's life on an early twentieth-century homestead ... very much recommended. And though the story takes place in southwestern Wyoming, the film itself was shot here in Montana, in Meagher and Wheatland Counties. (The homestead used in the filming is reportedly up by Judith Gap somewhere.)

The little train in this wonderful image was running on the White Sulphur Springs & Yellowstone Park Railway, which ran from White Sulphur down to Ringling. (Nope, it never made it to Yellowstone.) By the 1970s the railroad's days were numbered, the freight traffic almost gone. A promoter named "King" Wilson acquired the line, brought in a steam locomotive and some passenger cars, and tried to turn it all into a tourist attraction. It wasn't a success, though, and the railroad closed down after the Milwaukee Road -- its connection to the outside world -- was abandoned in 1980. The Heartland movie shoot was probably the highlight of the little railway's life.

From what I can tell, the old locomotive is at a railroad museum in Nebraska these days, though it hasn't run in years. And a few of Willson's old railway cars are still sitting up in White Sulphur, just where he left them back in 1980.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jordan ...

I've been lucky enough to be able to spend some time in a number of Montana's smaller towns, getting to know them. Others, though, I've just passed through, maybe stopping for gas or a snack and then moving on. So I only know bits and pieces about a lot of places, and I regret that ... it always makes me want to go exploring all the more.

I confess that one of those places I've never gotten to know well enough is Jordan, though I've made a number of cross-state trips through there on Montana 200. But the bits and pieces that we hear about Jordan always seem to be particularly interesting. Many Montanans, unfortunately, still stereotype Garfield County by associating it with the Freemen, the cranky anti-government folks who made such a scene back in the 90s. There's also the oft-stated claim that Jordan is the most isolated county seat in the country, which may well be true, though I don't know how you calculate such things.

The historian in me remembers a few other things about Jordan, as well ... like the fact that the state once built a large irrigation dam there, which promptly washed out and flooded half the town. And the fact that the school district there operated the last public school dormitory in the state, something that many eastern Montana high schools once had. Oh, and there's the alleged story about the misadventures of one of Ernest Hemingway's sons in Jordan ... which I'm not going to get into at the moment. All in all, an intriguing place that I'd like to get to know better.

I haven't taken a good photo of Jordan yet, but I'll work on that someday. In the meantime, here's a photo of the town taken by a US government photographer back in 1942.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Downtown Missoula ...

There's something very cool about nighttime photos of small-town Main Streets, especially from the age of neon. Here's a cool one of Missoula, probably from an old postcard. This is looking north along Higgins Avenue from the bridge over the Clark Fork River, showing the heart of the commercial district and a a couple of the city's landmark buildings: the great old Wilma Theatre and the Florence Hotel. Based on the name of the movie playing at the Wilma, the photo was taken in 1965.

Missoula still has one of the state's most interesting downtowns, and both the Wilma and the Florence are still there. The Florence has been turned into office space, though, and the Wilma's current marquee is pretty ugly, far less cool than this one. But at least they still show movies there ...

Friday, November 27, 2009

November in Glacier ...

This is a photo from the first Thanksgiving I spent in Montana, and the first one away from home.

I was in college, and had spent the summer before working at Lake McDonald Lodge before heading out for another year of school. I missed Montana, though ... so instead of spending Thanksgiving at home I drove up to Bozeman to meet a friend of mine from the park, and then we headed up to Lake McDonald to camp in the snow. A friend in Lakeside took pity on us and invited us to Thanksgiving dinner, and we skied up the Going-to-the-Sun road for a ways and basically froze to death. It was a great time.

I was probably standing on the boat dock at Lake McDonald Lodge when I took this shot, looking up through the mountains towards the Garden Wall.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bannack Thanksgiving ...

Today's quote is a memory of an early Thanksgiving day in the gold rush town of Bannack from the diaries of Harriet Sanders. Harriet came to Montana in the summer of 1863 with her husband, Wilbur Fisk Sanders, a man who became one of Montana's most prominent attorneys and civic leaders. (Wilbur is best remembered for his role as a leader in the territory's famous vigilante movement of the era ... which makes the following quote all the more interesting.) Forty dollars in gold was a hefty price back then.
“Our first Thanksgiving day dinner in the territory in the fall of 1863 was one of the most memorable dinners I have ever at- tended. Henry Plummer, desiring to be on good terms with the Chief Justice, Mr. Edgerton, and my husband . . . invited [us] to dinner . . . he sent to Salt Lake City, a distance of five hundred miles, and everything that money could buy was served, deli- cately cooked and with all the style that would characterize a banquet at ‘Sherry’s’. I now recall to mind that the turkey cost forty dollars in gold.”

Hope you all have a good Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bigfoot (!) ...

As far as search engines go, I'm a definite fan of Google ... particularly Google Books, which as you might guess is an invaluable tool when doing a blog like this. It seems like you can find pretty much anything there.

Including, for example, the complete press run of the Weekly World News! I know you're wondering why anyone would want to have access to something like that ... but there are times when you just might be in the mood for a little badly-written, pop culture fiction.

There were at least a handful of Montana stories in the WWN over the years, including one on dinosaurs that had come back to life. And we actually made the cover of their December 30, 2003 issue, as you can see below. This tragic event supposedly happened out near Beaverhead Rock ... you can just ignore the fact that the vegetation in the photo isn't very Montana-like, and that the generic police car has a Musselshell County license plate Photoshopped to it. :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A good country ...

Undoubtedly, the best-known Native American quote that's associated with Montana is Chief Joseph's famous "I will fight no more, forever" speech, given at the Bear Paw Battlefield in 1877. But my favorite is another well-known one, part of which is excerpted below. Though stories of its origin vary just a bit, it was reportedly given about 1833 by a Crow Chief named Eelápuash (also spelled Arapooish), and recorded in the journals of a man named Benjamin L.E. Bonneville. The journals were later edited and published by the noted author and essayist Washington Irving.
The Crow Country is a good country. The Great Spirit has put it exactly in the right place; while you are in it you fare well; whenever you go out of it, whichever way you travel, you will fare worse. . . . The Crow Country is exactly in the right place. It has snowy mountains and sunny plains; all kinds of climates and good things for every season. When the summer heats scorch the prairies, you can draw up under the mountains, where the air is sweet and cool, the grass fresh, and the bright streams come tumbling out of the snow banks. There you can hunt the elk, the deer, and the antelope, when their skins are fit for dressing; there you will find plenty of white bears and mountain sheep. In the autumn, when your horses are fat and strong from the mountain pastures, you can go down into the plains and hunt the buffalo, or trap beaver on the streams. And when winter comes on, you can take shelter in the woody bottoms along the rivers; there you will find buffalo meat for yourselves, and cottonwood bark for your horses . . . . The Crow Country is exactly in the right place. Everything good is to be found there. There is no country like the Crow Country.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Winter roads ...

Though I'm a true fan of long Montana drives, I'll confess to slightly mixed emotions about doing it in the winter. There's the whole snow thing, of course, and the ridiculously short days, and the frigid north wind that seems to appear every time you stop for a bathroom break. But there are real joys, too, that you just don't experience in the summertime. There are fewer tourists, and the winter light makes for great photographs, and the snow itself is often really lovely.

Here's a photo I took on Saturday to illustrate some of that. This is US 191, somewhere between Big Timber and Harlowton.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Champions ...

I made another drive up to the Judith Basin yesterday morning, a striking and typically-gorgeous late-autumn Montana day. My destination was the town of Denton, where the undefeated Trojans were hosting the state six-man championship high school football game. Their opponents were the Roy-Winifred Outlaws, a newly-formed co-op team from two small schools an hour or so away. The Denton and Winifred teams have been rivals for decades, and so it promised to be a fun afternoon ... and it was.

Driving into Denton on the road that the Winifred fans would have used, I saw that Denton had tied streamers with their school's blue-and-white colors to the roadside reflector poles ... for miles. Out by the Judith, they'd hauled a bunch of huge circular hay bales to the roadside and spray-painted "Go Blue" onto them. Not to be outdone, Winifred and Roy had made an even bigger hay-bale sign nearby reading "Go Outlaws." When I arrived at the little field it was clear that most of the population of all three towns was there. Denton helped accommodate the overflow by providing temporary bleachers made of hay bales atop flatbed trailers.

I had a fine time, talking to a few of the locals, lunching on a cheeseburger, and taking lots of photos. Got to meet the author of the Small Town Football blog, as well. And I watched the game, which in typical six-man fashion was lots of fun.

But it wasn't a cliffhanger. Though the Denton folks had all expected to win, the team never really managed to get going, and the Outlaws scored the first points and never looked back. In the end the score was 53-20, nearly a blowout -- and the Outlaws were the new state champions. There was a little awards ceremony and then everyone streamed onto the field for hugs and high-fives and photographs.

It was a great moment, and the Outlaws deserve lots of accolades. They handily beat all three of the state's undefeated six-man teams in their playoff run -- a pretty amazing feat, indeed.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rivals ...

So today is the day of the annual Cat-Griz football game ... the University of Montana versus Montana State. I'm not going to weigh in on the thing, because as I've said I think big-time sports fandom is pretty silly. I think I'll just get the heck out of town for a few hours to escape some of the nonsense.

That said, I suppose I could compare the two schools in some other way ... though for my own safety I won't go so far as to say which of the universities is the better one. Instead, as an historian and an architecture fan I could compare the campuses. Both have a number of extremely handsome old buildings and thoroughly nondescript newer ones, and both have coldly destroyed some of their landmarks ... though overall I think UM has both the best architecture, and some of the worst.

Both of the schools originally had campus plans designed by Cass Gilbert, one of the most noted of twentieth-century architects ... and both schools have thoroughly erased many of those lovely landscapes with really unfortunate new construction. MSU's behavior has been particularly egregious in this regard.

But the most telling thing is a look at the focal points of the two campuses. Montana Hall at MSU barely stands out at all, with the new buildings overshadowing it and the erratic landscaping ... and the fact that the school's awful-looking pedestrian mall runs along the back of the building, so that's all that most people ever see. The UM campus couldn't be more different -- their Main Hall is the keystone of a huge grassy oval, and is backed by a mountain with a giant "M" on it. And at the other end of the oval there's a giant bronze grizzly. It's all gorgeous, and couldn't be more perfect.

Though they'll never admit it, the MSU people have been insanely jealous of the oval and that grizzly for a very long time ... so this year they set up a big metal bobcat on a nondescript plaza at the Bozeman campus. It's a pale and obvious imitation, and actually kinda sad.

So even if you don't care about football, now you know which campus wins.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quintessential road ...

This is one of my favorite photos from the last couple of weeks ... I shot it a few miles southwest of Utica, on the road heading up the Judith River towards the sapphire country. Everyone who explores Montana knows scenes like this, and to me it's a quintessential part of the state.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Howdy Hotel ...

Today's photo is another one from Mike Blakesley in Forsyth ... it's a 1961 shot of what is undoubtedly the best-named hostelry in Montana: the Howdy Hotel.

This handsome building has been a downtown Forsyth landmark for over a century now. It's the sort of hotel that nearly all Montana towns would have had a couple of generations ago, but that mostly closed with the advent of freeways and chain motels. Happily, though, the Howdy is still going strong. Most of the rooms are rented out to long-term tenants these days, but there's still space for overnight guests. And in the room next to the lobby you'll find the Speedway Diner, absolutely the place to get something greasy to eat in the middle of the night.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Forsyth ...

Though I love most Montana towns, I'll confess to a real soft spot for Forsyth. I spent several months there a number of years ago, doing my first big history project, and I still feel a real connection with the place ... though the town has changed some, of course, and many of the people I knew in Forsyth have since passed away.

My friend Mike Blakesley is still there, though, running the gorgeous old Roxy Theatre, and a few days ago he very kindly sent me a number of historic photos of the town. This is one of my favorites -- it was taken by Mike's father Bruce, at the Forsyth Horse Show parade back in the 1950s. I love it for all the period details you can see ... the old-style stop sign, the clothing styles and the cowboy hats, the building cornices and facades that are now mostly hidden.

And the old signs! Blakesley's Cigar Store, Lefty's Bar, and of course the Roxy ... it's the survivor on that street, and today looks better than ever.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Montana sunsets ...

The clouds and sky in yesterday's photograph inspired a brief discussion afterwards, about how Charlie Russell managed to so perfectly capture those Montana skies in his paintings. A good online friend mentioned that Ian Tyson had once written a song that mentioned that very fact, so I went looking for the thing ... and here it is.

Ian Tyson is a country singer and songwriter, an artist with near-legendary status in his native Canada. Most Americans (including me) know of him mainly because of his song "Four Strong Winds," which has been covered by Neil Young and a host of others. (Personally, I recommend the Judy Collins version.) But Tyson's discography is much broader, and includes several lyrics with Montana themes.

Tyson's song about Charlie Russell is called "The Gift," and it appeared on his 1987 album Cowboyography. Here's the final verse, and the chorus:
When the Lord called Charlie to His home up yonder
He said Kid Russell I got a job for you
You're in charge of sunsets in old Montana
Cause I can't paint them quite as good as you
And when you're done---we'll go out and have a few
And Nancy Russell will make sure it's just two

God made Montana for the wild man
For the Peigon and Sioux and Crow
But He saved his greatest gift for Charlie
Said get her all down before she goes---Charlie
You gotta get her all down cause she's bound to go

Monday, November 16, 2009

Madison Valley ...

When I sat down this morning I realized I was about to make my 200th post in this blog ... who would have thought? Not me.

Anyhow, since the open road has been such a big part of this journal so far, I thought another highway picture would be a proper commemoration. Here's a shot I took several days ago, driving through the upper Madison Valley just before sunset.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Underdogs ...

I'm finding that small-town football games are great excuses for long roadtrips ... and so yesterday I drove all the way out to Hysham to watch one of the semifinal games in the state 6-man tournament.

The Hysham Pirates were the host team ... they've been a powerhouse for years, and came into the game at 10-0, regarded by many as the best 6-man team in the state. This is a photo I took of their opponents, the Outlaws ... a co-op team of kids from the tiny high schools in Winifred and Roy. They came in second in their division but are a tough bunch, and managed to topple the previously-unbeaten Big Sandy Pioneers the week before. But the Outlaws had lost to Hysham back in September.

It was a beautiful but chilly day, and it seemed like a good chunk of small-town Montana was there. The little concession stand did a brisk business selling hot chocolate, and "lunches" that featured bowls of chili along with insanely-large homemade cinnamon rolls. The crowd was rowdy, and pirate flags waved proudly from the top of the tiny bleachers.

And the unthinkable happened, at least from Hysham's perspective. Winifred/Roy started out with two fast, unanswered touchdowns ... and they never looked back, cruising to an effortless 52-34 win. Next week the Outlaws play Denton for the state championship. The two teams are neighbors and long-time rivals, so it's likely to be a heck of an afternoon. I just might have to drive up.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Forgotten buildings ...

Years ago, I was doing historic research at an archive out in Milwaukee, and I came across an architect's sketch for a proposed railway depot in the little town of Musselshell ... which is a ways east of Roundup, in case you're wondering. I thought it was a gorgeous little building, and so I made a photocopy of the drawing, and tried to find out more about the thing.

But there wasn't much to be found. I saw an old photo proving that the station had indeed been built, and I learned that the architect had also done the landmark Milwaukee depots in Missoula and Great Falls ... but that was it, either about the building or the designer. Nearly always, small Montana towns like Musselshell used to get simple, standardized depot buildings, designs that were replicated dozens of times across a railroad system. Why did Musselshell, of all places, merit something this unique and cool?

A pointless question, I know, and I'll never find the answer ... but I still wonder about it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Roads to romance ...

There's no doubt (at least to me) that maps provide the greatest recreational reading imaginable. And old maps can be particularly fascinating, both for their period graphics and because they provide fascinating insights on how the human landscapes of the world are changing.

The Montana map that most people know, of course, is the official highway map that's been published by the state since 1935. The current version is computer-generated and informative and handsome, but for real visual appeal you just can't beat the state's earliest maps. The Department of Transportation website has scans of the cover panels of of those first maps, and all the pre-World War II ones are great. This one, I think, is my favorite:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Big drift ...

So I'm scheduled to give a presentation on the Going-to-the-Sun Road at the Montana Historical Society in Helena tonight ... and somehow Mother Nature must have found out about my upcoming drive, because there's nearly a foot of new snow in my yard this morning. The joys of living in Montana!

Here's a photo to mark this combination of events. This is an early 1930s shot of a car passing through the "Big Drift" on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The Big Drift is just east of Logan Pass, and is often the last obstacle cleared by the plows before the road opens each summer.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Arlo ...

I'm definitely a fan of Arlo Guthrie, the folk singer ... back in college, I practically had the "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" memorized, and though I'm generally not a concert-goer I've been to a couple of his shows when he's come to the Gallatin Valley. As far as I know, though, Arlo's only done one song with Montana lyrics -- it's called "Somebody Turned on the Light," and here are the opening stanzas:
I've been to wild Montana
I went there in a storm
My boots were Texas leather
My Levis wet and torn

I loved it in Montana
Loved it in the storm
I think I'm gonna cross that river
I just might be reborn

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Danvers ...

I was wandering around up in the Judith Basin country last weekend, and I took this photo of the old St. Wenceslas Catholic Church in Danvers. Danvers is an evocative but dying little town on the old Milwaukee Road line between Lewistown and Denton ... just a couple of grain elevators, a handful of houses, and the church. There was a really handsome old schoolhouse there, too ... at least until earlier this year, when some evil, heartless person tore it down.

It's been a long time since St. Wenceslas has seen more than occasional use, and now I hear that the local diocese (true to form) wants to tear it down, too ... this despite strong local sentiment to save it. I'm betting the diocese gets its way, and that the next time I visit Danvers there will be one less landmark on the prairie. Breaks my heart.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Red Rock Lakes ...

I paid a quick visit to Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge a few days ago, making the long, dirt-road drive from Monida and then over the pass to Henry's Lake in Idaho. It was a blustery autumn afternoon, and it was easy to see that it wouldn't be long until the place was snowed in for the winter. But it was gorgeous.

The refuge is in the high Centennial Valley, just north of the Idaho line in Beaverhead County. The valley was once a primary route for stagecoach travelers headed to Yellowstone, and homesteaders later settled there, but hardly anyone lives in the valley anymore ... it's too remote and the winters are too long. Much of the valley floor is used as summer range for cattle, while the Refuge occupies the eastern end. It was established in 1935 to protect habitat for migratory birds, and was a key part of the effort to save the Trumpeter Swan from extinction. Beautiful country, and well worth a visit.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Buffalo Commons ...

As promised (or threatened) yesterday, here are a couple of key paragraphs from the infamous "Buffalo Commons" article by Frank and Deborah Popper. It's easy to see how inflammatory this was. Looking at it, though, it's pretty clear to me that the Poppers' predictions aren't likely to come true ... and that, on a broad scale, at least, they probably shouldn't.

Still, the article points out that there are issues that we as Montanans will certainly have to face. For me, the biggest one is the changing cultural landscape of the northern plains -- many of the towns are dying, and it's harder and harder to keep young people from leaving. At the same time, farms and ranches continue to consolidate, and more and more of them become corporate rather than family endeavors. Someone needs to figure out how to solve those problems, or the culture of the northern plains as we know it will cease to exist someday ... and that will be terribly sad.
We believe that despite history's warnings and environmentalists' proposals, much of the Plains will inexorably suffer near-total desertion over the next generation. It will come slowly to most places, quickly to some; parts of Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Texas, especially those away from the interstates, strike us as likely candidates for rapid depopulation. The overall desertion will largely run its course. At that point, the only way to keep the Plains from turning into an utter wasteland, an American Empty Quarter, will be for the federal government to step in and buy the land -- in short, to deprivatize it.


The federal government's commanding task on the Plains for the next century will be to recreate the nineteenth century, to reestablish what we would call the Buffalo Commons. More and more previously private land will be acquired to form the commons. In many areas, the distinctions between the present national parks, grasslands, grazing lands, wildlife refuges, forests, Indian lands, and their state counterparts will largely dissolve. The small cities of the Plains will amount to urban islands in a shortgrass sea. The Buffalo Commons will become the world's largest historic preservation project, the ultimate national park. Most of the Great Plains will become what all of the United States once was -- a vast land mass, largely empty and unexploited.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Big Open ...

At an academic conference in Missoula back in 1987, a man named Robert Scott presented a paper that inaugurated a controversy that's still simmering. The paper, titled "Saving the Big Open: The Case for a Great Plains Wildlife Range," proposed intentionally depopulating much of eastern Montana and turning it into a wildlife preserve called the Big Open. The notion garnered more attention that fall when Frank and Deborah Popper published an article called "The Great Plains: From Dust to Dust," that expanded the idea to other states while announcing that the depopulation was inevitable. In the piece, the Poppers stated that the initial settlement of the area was the "largest, longest-running agricultural and environmental miscalculation in American history."

It was, of course, a difficult statement for many to hear. I had (and still have) mixed thoughts about it all, because I love exploring that country and its towns and its cultural landscape ... but at the same time, I know that I'm watching much of it fade away forever. If I were in charge of tackling the issue, I honestly have no idea what I'd do.

I'll post a more detailed quote from the Poppers' proposal tomorrow, but for today here's a paragraph from the beginning of the piece -- a description of the Plains as planners see it.
The Great Plains are America's steppes. They have the nation's hottest summers and coldest winters, greatest temperature swings, worst hail and locusts and range fires, fiercest droughts and blizzards, and therefore its shortest growing season. The Plains are the land of the Big Sky and the Dust Bowl, one-room schoolhouses and settler homesteads, straight-line interstates and custom combines, prairie dogs and antelope and buffalo. The oceans-of-grass vistas of the Plains offer enormous horizons, billowy clouds, and somber-serene beauty.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Railway drama ...

One of my very favorite made-in-Montana movies is one that you've probably never heard of: Danger Lights, a black-and-white drama released by RKO way back in 1930, in the early years of the talkies. The film is mostly a romantic drama with a fairly standard and cheesy plot -- two railway employees battling for the affections of a young Jean Arthur.

But the railroad setting makes makes it both historically noteworthy and lots of fun ... those scenes were shot in Montana, along the Milwaukee Road's main line across the state. There are action shots in remote Sixteen Mile Canyon, and lots of evocative images of steam locomotives in the railway's Miles City roundhouse and yards. They're great views by any standard, made all the more interesting to me by their location ... and their portrayal of a legendary, now-vanished railroad.

One of the movie's most dramatic scenes is a nighttime tug-of-war between two locomotives, supposedly staged as the evening's entertainment at a railroad employees' picnic. Here's a screen capture of the event:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Montana moonrise ...

Last night was an absolutely stellar Montana evening. Driving east towards Bozeman a little after dark, I marveled at a clear, deep-blue sky and a huge moon, not quite full, rising over the Bridgers. It was gorgeous, and made the whole day worthwhile.

I didn't stop to take a photo, but the evening reminded me of a very similar one when I did, almost exactly two years ago. Here's the shot I took in 2007 ... I was near the top of Cottonwood Hill, a little east of Cardwell.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Poet laureate ...

I bet most of you didn't even know that Montana has an official poet laureate! We've had three of them, in fact ... the title was created in 2005, and recipients hold the position for two-year terms.

The first Montana poet laureate was a woman named Sandra Alcosser, who studied under Richard Hugo at the University of Montana. She now lives down in the Bitterroot Valley. Here's an example of her work -- the final two stanzas of a poem called "Approaching August":
Today I had a letter from France.
"What a truly civilized nation," my friend wrote
as she drank her morning coffee with thick cream
in a country cafe near Avignon. "To my right
a man in a black tuxedo sips raspberry liqueur
and soda."

Here on the same latitude we lie back at dawn
on the caving bank of the Bitterroot.
A shadow slips through the silver grasses.
And then a moth.
And then the moon.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Autumn sun ...

I'm a summer person, without a doubt ... but there's also no doubt that this is a fine time of year in Montana. The winter light makes for striking photographs, and the snowy mountains can be extraordinarily evocative. And of course the sky is as big as ever.

Here's a shot I took last Saturday, driving south through Beaverhead County. Those are the Centennial Mountains in the distance.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sports under a Big Sky ...

I promise you all that this is absolutely NOT going to turn into a sports blog ... but I have one more football photo for you. I ended up in the small town of Lima last Saturday afternoon, and watched one of the playoff games for the state 6-man high school football championship. The game pitted a plucky co-op team from the little towns of Reed Point and Rapelje against an evil squad from Dubois, Idaho.

It was a close game, but in the end the Reed Point/Rapelje Renegades were a point short. Regardless, though, it's hard to envision a finer setting for a football game than this:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bozeman Halloween ...

I confess that I'm not really much of a fan of Halloween, so I devoted yesterday to another of my small-town drives ... but I got back to Bozeman in time to stop by the town's historic Story Mansion. The Friends group that supports the facility had decorated the outside of the place in honor of the day, and were handing out treats on the front porch. It was all quite a success, and the old house looked extremely cool: