Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lost states ...

One of the books I picked up last fall was a heavily-promoted volume called "Lost States," supposedly a chronicle of proposed U.S. states that never quite came to be. It was slickly produced but a major disappointment ... more interested in being snarky than correct, and not even doing snarky very well.

Three of the book's entries describe possible "states" that could have included part of Montana ... including an unsourced suggestion for a state called Chippewa, that would have included western North Dakota and most of Montana east of the Continental Divide. The book claims that the region ("Land of No Speed Limits") contains no town larger than Glendive, completely ignoring the existence of a half-dozen other cities (like Billings and Great Falls). And it buys into all the standard stereotypes:
The problem is, no one wanted to live in Chippewa year-round. Not then. Not now. It gets nasty-cold in winter, and you can't grow anything there. True, the big sky country does evoke a certain romantic feel in the summer. That's why rich celebrities flock to the region, buy a little ranch … and then never come back.
He's right about the nasty cold, at least ... but once in a while it's good to be reminded that things shouldn't always be believed, even when they're in shiny hardbound books.

No comments:

Post a Comment