Arts & Culture

  • Montana’s Vintage Neon Signs—an Endangered Species

    By Teresa Otto
    It started with a random photo of the Top Notch Lunch sign in Great Falls. Originally an ice cream parlor, the sign was added in 1938 when the place became a diner. As I sat in a booth near the back of the cafe, enjoying a sloppy joe that was too big to pick up, I knew this sign was just the beginning.
  • Ernest Hemingway’s Adventures in Montana

    By Chris Warren
    Hemingway’s time in the Yellowstone High Country began on July 13, 1930, when he first crossed the Clark’s Fork and settled onto the L—T Ranch ten miles outside of Cooke City, Montana. The ranch was owned by Olive and Lawrence Nordquist; the “L” and “T” stood for the first and last letters in the latter’s name.
  • I Didn't Die in Montana: Hank Williams Jr. on Ajax Mountain

    By Nick Mitchell
    Sliding, he picked up speed. Snow that had frozen, melted, and refrozen into shards tore at his skin while rocks, jutting out of the snow like land mines, struck his head and body, leaving large gashes but failing to slow his descent
  • Montana's Historic Hot Springs

    By Charlie Dennison
    These were some challenging times for travel in Montana, but in the 1930s, when Lolo National Forest West was established, a dirt track was constructed to the resort from Highway 200. Better days were ahead for Martin Quinn's favorite destination, and —through it all—the location stayed in the family name.
  • The Cowboy and the Lady: Montana's Biggest Movie Stars

    By Kari Bowles
    The Treasure State was the birthplace of two of the biggest movie stars of the golden age of American cinema: Gary Cooper and Myrna Loy. If readers don’t recognize the names, they would do well to look into them.
  • Montana Media: The 50th Anniversary of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

    By Kari Bowles
    The business where Lightfoot gets employment before the heist is Pinski Bros. Plumbing and Heating, which was an actual business in Great Falls, one that had been a fixture in the community for several years. One of the most crucial locations, the drive-in movie theater where the bank robbers hide out after the job, was provided by Great Falls’ 10th Ave Drive-In.
  • Our Interview With Author Gwen Florio

    By Lindsay Dick
    Distinctly Montana spoke with Florio about her favorite places in Montana, works-in-progress, what she’s reading, and eating camp stove ramen on book tours. It was a lively and funny conversation that underscored how much she has to offer readers who crave the fast-paced and gritty stories that she tells so well.
  • Wild West Words: Wool, Lodge, and Explore

    By Chrysti the Wordsmith
    Imagine investigating unknown territory without map or guide. As the point person, you make the first astounding discovery. A hundred-foot waterfall. A herd of tiny striped ungulates gathered around a lake. You call to your companions: wow, look at this!
  • BEYOND WORDS: C.M. Russell's Real Montana Winters

    By Robert Rath
    The phrase "words can't describe it" is often used when a person is trying to articulate something either extremely good or extremely bad. And mere words definitely could not describe the extremely bad winter of 1886-87 for the Montanans who experienced it.
  • If You Aint' Got a Cowboy Hat, You Ain't ****

    By Dan Vichorek
    When they let me out of high school I didn't have a hat. That was okay. John Kennedy showed you you didn't need a hat to be successful. Kennedy was the first president since Abe Lincoln who was never photographed in a cowboy hat or Indian war bonnet. He got elected anyway, and girls liked him too. So much for hats.
  • "I Await the Devil's Coming": Mary MacLane, Butte's Prodigal Daughter

    By Lindsay Dick
    From her family’s house on North Excelsior Street, MacLane could see the Anselmo headframe and watch the miners change shifts. In "I, Mary MacLane," she explains her relationship with language in a way that recalls both the synesthesia of the poetic mind and the laborious process of mining.
  • I Was An Extra on Yellowstone...

    By Cab Tran
    The Big Director gets on his chair with the camera attached to the hydraulic crane and yells, “Back to one!”, meaning everyone is at their starting position.  For me, it’s sitting in front of my keno machine, ready to repeatedly push a button.  “Masks off!” the Big Director yells.
  • Hogan's Army Heads East

    By Nick Mitchell
    So Hogan didn't exactly hijack the train with his band of pirates. He did the next best thing, meeting with the mayor and county commissioners and asking them to help him enlist the support of the Northern Pacific, which was itself bankrupt and in receivership.
  • Wild West Words: "Pasty"

    By Chrysti the Wordsmith
    For centuries, the traditional meal of Cornish tin miners was the pasty. Made daily by wives and mothers, pasties were the perfect portable meal: a miscellany of vegetables and meat encased and baked in a D-shaped pastry shell.