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.


  1. Okay, you got me. I lived in that high school dorm for 4 years, shortly before it closed for good. There are a lot of stories from a couple generations about that old place!

    Jordan surely isn't one of the more picturesque little towns in the state, that's for sure. But to me, the country around it makes up for that. The very best time to see Garfield County is May and June...lush and green, and everyone's in a good mood!

    Come to Jordan! On Tuesdays, at the Hilltop, you can order breakfast for supper. We'll meet you there!

    And this picture is so great! Isn't it perfect, that the beer parlor is also the barber shop? I tried to read the other signs, but all I could make out was the garage down the street. The old cars...I love the lines of those cars.

  2. Wow, you're a part of history! :-p

    That's actually really cool, I think. I got to look through the old high school dorm at Ingomar right before they tore it down, and it really made me wonder what it would have been like to have lived in a place like that as a kid. I have kind of a romantic notion of the idea, which is probably not terribly realistic ...

    Do the far-off high school kids just stay with families in town now?

    And I'm not just saying this, but I actually think that little towns like Jordan ARE picturesque! I really do, and hopefully that's one of the things I've gotten across in this blog over the months.

    Breakfast for dinner? I'm there!! I honestly do want to do some more Montana traveling next summer, in part to get photos for the blog. And Garfield County is very definitely on the list!