Monday, March 15, 2010

We have commercialized Montana to death ...

The best moments of doing historic research are always the unexpected ones ... when you discover something that has absolutely no relevance to the project at hand, but is just plain interesting. Those moments alone are enough to keep me reading.

I had one such moment when I was reading up on the town of Simms for yesterday's post. I came across a volume of proceedings for the 1907 gathering of something called the Montana Horticultural Society ... who would have even guessed there had been such a thing? And among the speeches were a couple that lamented the over-development of Montana -- a topic that's definitely relevant for the Bitterroot or the Flathead today. But they were already worried about it a century ago.

Here are a couple of paragraphs from one of the essays -- this by Robert Sutherlin, the long time editor of the famous Rocky Mountain Husbandman newspaper:
In this new order of things, we lay off the land like a checker-board, every quarter section of land. i might say every forty acres, perhaps every eighty acres will have a family on it; there will be no place to play, there will be no place to build a Grange hall, no place to build a farmer's hall, no place for a school house. . . .

Now, we want roads, graveled roads, rock roads, and we want them lined with trees, and we want our country homes to be made the counterpart of our city homes. As it has been demonstrated here today by the papers that have been read, it is just as easy to have the hot and cold water comforts in the country as it is in the city, and we must have them, we must make these people contented. We have commercialized Montana to death, everything has been sacrificed, to get a bank account.


  1. Amen.

    I think there still IS a Montana Horticultural Society, actually. Ran across it a couple years ago when I was doing the Master Gardener program, looking for other garden nerds...

  2. Amen, indeed. It's too bad that, as a society, we don't think about that a little more.

    And it would be cool if the Horticultural Society were still around ... I ought to go looking for it on the web, I suppose. (I could sure use a horticulturalist, myself ... at its best, my yard looks like a war zone. :-)