The crucial role of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company and other big mining enterprises in World War II materials production is widely appreciated. Less so is the contribution of Montana’s many small-scale mine operations.
If Manifest Destiny had a smell, it would surely stink of rotting garbage, excrement, and a heady whiff of BO. Literature and film have cultivated in the American imagination a highly romanticized take on the Old West, but they’ve necessarily left out some of the crustier details of day-to-day hygiene.
There was a market for their tongues in the trendy restaurants of the East, selling for $8 - $9 for a dozen. And "buffalo hump" was also a Christmas tradition for many in the West - an 1846 holiday feast at Fort Edmonton served "boiled buffalo hump," "boiled buffalo calf," and "whitefish browned in buffalo marrow."
As the Great War shook the world, Montana felt more impact than most states. WWI was at the nexus of political and immigration issues, labor strife, and a deadly pandemic, as well as the beginning of a prolonged drought that shaped one of the most tumultuous times in our history.
These so-called "patent medicines" thrived during the frontier era. Part of the reason is that the tent shows, presided over by colorful and theatric charlatans, were as much entertainment as medicine.
Montana’s native tribes relied on the bounty of bison in nearly every aspect of their daily lives. In addition to depending on them as a primary food source, native peoples also developed ingenious methods that enabled them to use every part of these colossal one-ton giants.
The team also found several artifacts that could be attributed to the Corps, including a blue bead, melted lead, and a tombac (metal) button. Most interestingly, the latrines they uncovered contained a not insignificant amount of mercury, a dead giveaway that the poop in the pit belonged to non-Native individuals.
Now whenever I go to a restaurant with a price point north of McDonald's, my eyes scan the menu for steaks. Whether it's the $10 steak and eggs at a greasy spoon or the $47 ribeye at a real fancy place, or the even more dreaded "market price" cut only available to those in the know, I can't help myself.
Also referred to as vanishing hitchhikers, these are ghosts that haunt our roadways. Some seek to hitch a ride with the living and others simply drift through the thin veil between worlds to appear briefly on the side of the road.
And when Montana experienced its own gold rush, many Chinese came to Bannack and Virginia City to seek their fortunes; the first mention of Chinese arriving in the area was in an 1865 issue of the Virginia City newspaper The Montana Post, which groused at the arrival of a small group of gold-seeking Chinese workers.
Plenty Coup said that "The Cheyenne, and the Sioux... have always been our enemies... But when I fought with the white man against them it was not because I loved him or because I hated the Sioux and the Cheyenne, but because I saw this was the only way we could keep our lands... And it was my dream that taught us the way."
While it is okay to leave respectful memorials to loved ones, or even toys and trinkets on a long-passed child’s grave, it is never okay to leave refuse, graffiti, or other ill-intentioned items. Please join me as we respectfully wander a few of our beautiful state’s memorial gardens.
Montana is home to a whopping 17 federal Superfund Sites. Superfund, or Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), was established in 1980 to allow the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up contaminated, toxic sites around the United States.
The National Carousel Association publishes an online Index of North American Carousels. That index lists seven carousels in Montana, including merry-go-rounds in Boulder, Butte, Columbia Falls, Helena, Missoula, Shelby and Somers.
It may surprise many, as it did me, that there are actually abandoned mines and oil wells located within Glacier. The three decades prior to Glacier officially gaining national park status saw a frenzy of mining activity.