The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends: The difference between farmers and ranchers

In a creative writing workshop, my wife wrote about growing up on a farm. Later, in the same essay, she talked about growing up on a ranch. This caused considerable consternation in the workshop. “You can’t use those words interchangeably,” people said. “It’s a farm or it’s a ranch. You need to figure out which … Read more

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It’s the Little Things: A Book Review

Not long before Christmas, I needed a new notebook. On a whim, I bought one without lines. I’ve started drafting my blog posts using unnecessary squiggly arrows and doodles. In reality, this is just an ingenious procrastination method, but it also makes me feel like an old fashioned natural philosopher. I like to think that … Read more

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11 Ways to Travel Through Montana Like My Dad

You, dear reader, will never have an opportunity to travel through Montana with my dad [name withheld because he doesn’t trust the internet]. Which is a shame, because it is one of the best ways of seeing the state. References like Names on the Faces of Montana, virtualmontana.com, this blog, and a good Montana Map … Read more

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Montana’s Metal Master

It’s fitting that one of Montana’s best-known artists got his start in a welding class. Jim Dolan, whose larger-than-life metal sculptures are scattered across the state, came to Montana to pursue a degree in agriculture from Montana State University. He chanced upon sculpting during a welding class—creating small pieces out of scrap metal and nails. … Read more

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Helena’s Beginnings: This Day in History

In July of 1864, four down-on-their-luck prospectors chanced across gold in the Prickly Pear Valley, a wide, peopleless valley just east of the Continental Divide.  By October, that same stretch of barren gulch was a virtual metropolis, teaming with miners, merchants, and prostitutes.  The region’s citizens realized that they needed to turn their mining camp … Read more

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Not All Who Wander Are Lost: Uptown Butte on Foot without a Plan

On my recent trips to Butte, I went to some cool museums, took fun tours, and ate delicious food. I also spent a lot of time just wandering around. The activities are fun for sure, but there is something very alluring about just wandering around a place, looking at things. Butte has an air of … Read more

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Montana Fall Roundup

  Did you know that today is the first day of fall? Of course you do. Turns out, so do the people at Montana’s official tourism regions. Back in the old days, fall meant roundups. the big ranches would bring their cattle in from their summer pasture to winter them closer to home. Today, fall … Read more

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Montana’s Missing Scots

I have been thinking a lot about the Scots. Were there Scots in Montana? If so, why did they not leave a lasting mark on the Montana identity? Why, for example, do Montana Universities offer Irish Studies, but no Scottish Studies? Turns out, this is a theme across the West. While many Scots and Scots-Irish … Read more

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