Tuesday, March 1, 2011

North plains bus ...

Especially in the winter, you need to approach northern travel with a little bit of flexibility ... something that was proven to me when I tried to make it home from Minnesota last week. I was planning to fly, but a blizzard closed the Minneapolis airport on my travel day, so I rebooked myself on Amtrak ... and then my train trip was interrupted when a freight derailed and blocked the tracks ahead. Which explains why I spent part of a day riding across northeastern Montana in a rattletrap charter bus from Rugby, North Dakota.

Buses just aren't the greatest way to see the world, especially on frosty winter days. Here's how the ride looked ... this is downtown Poplar, Montana, as seen through the windshield. Poplar is the agency town for the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, and a pretty nondescript place, indeed.


  1. I grew up 25 miles south of Poplar and went to school in Poplar, graduating in ..a long time ago. While living on the other side of the world, it is my observation from visits and reading local press that unfortunately Poplar is really struggling and seeing it in a "cold deep freeze" as you did may be the best way to view it.

  2. Yep, Poplar is struggling ... though it's still interesting country.

    I think the big issue there (and in other reservation towns) is that the population is increasing, but economic opportunities are actually lessening. It's a huge problem, and there's no ready solution for it, at all ...

  3. I think you are correct on all points. Two things of what might provide some increased economic potential is that I notice that there are a lot of applications (13 in February) for new oil well drilling in the area which has not been happening during the Bakken boom as per across the river in Richland County.

  4. Northeastern Montana and northwestern N.D. are definitely undergoing another mini oil boom right now ... from what I've heard, finding a motel room in Williston these days is nearly impossible. It definitely helps the local economy some, though most of the good jobs go to experienced people who come in from elsewhere. The locals in places like Poplar just don't have the job skills that the oilfield work requires, so they get left behind ...