Monday, January 17, 2011

Mountain letters ...

The cultural geography of the American West is unique in many ways ... and one of the most intriguing is our odd habit of building giant letters on local hillsides. It seems like nearly every little town in the Mountain Time Zone has a hilltop monogram nearby -- the towns that have the setting for it, at least. And with Montana's abundance of topography, they're nearly ubiquitous. Only the Hi-line, with its shortage of mountains, misses out on the fad.

Most of the monograms commemorate both the town and the local high school ... usually, the school and its boosters build the letters and maintain them. That connection is particularly obvious in a few places, where the graduating classes annually hike up to their letter and paint the class year on a nearby rock. The result over time is a sea of numbers -- a fascinating combination of graffiti and small-town ritual.

I took this photo of Drummond's monogram yesterday, a grey winter morning with a January rain slowly melting the last of the snow.


  1. If I had a hill behind my house, I might put up a letter K or J and '09 (the year our house was built). It's always fun to see them change!

  2. lol ... I wonder what the people who enforce the local zoning codes would have to say about THAT? :-p