People & Place

  • A Brief History of Passenger Rail Service in Montana

    By Shawn Vicklund
    Let's go back in time to understand the future. The year is 1883, and American railroads were transporting moving passengers over thousands of miles of rail lines that covered North America. Since the first railway 56 years earlier in 1827, railroads were now shrinking travel time between cities from days down to hours.
  • Montana’s Sedition Act

    By Clem Work
    The sedition law said that anyone who said or wrote anything in wartime that was “disloyal, profane, violent, scurrilous, contemptuous, slurring or abusive” about the United States was guilty.
  • Headframe Spirits is Inspired By the Past, But Looks Forward to the Future

    I've been to the Tasting Room many times before, and every time someone visits me in my adopted town of Butte, I always take them there. But somehow, I never paid much attention to the bar before now. It is a long, gorgeous hardwood number that looks as if a hundred years or so of cowboys and miners have rubbed it to a reflective polish. 
  • Digging Montana's Yogo Sapphires

    By Hallie Zolynski
    Jewish traditions hold that the Ten Commandments were engraved on sapphire tablets. Some may be legend or myth, but there’s no denying that sapphires have an air of mystery and magic, not unlike Montana. 
  • Montana's Mysterious Rock Show

    By Holly Matkin
    They seemed oddly out-of-place in the landscape, as if they had been dumped out of the sky and onto the forest floor below. Their rusty color contrasted with the drab gray of the boulders lying outside the perimeter of the pile.
  • Get To Know a County: Toole County

    By Bryan Spellman
    Stretched between the Marias River and the Canadian border, Toole County covers 1,946 square miles, of which 30 are water (mostly Lake Elwell aka Tiber Reservoir). The 2020 census estimate showed 4,686 county residents, a drop of 12 percent since the 2010 census, and the lowest count since 1920. 
  • A Photographic Trip to Montana's Historic Cemeteries

    By Renee Carlson
    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’s Wild and Wooly Stagecoach Days

    By Lyndel Meikle
    A dozen passengers were aboard Gilmer, Salisbury & Company’s stagecoach as the six horses trotted leisurely up a long, wooded hill. Just as the road emerged from the timber a large gentleman with an enormous gun arose from the brush and ordered the driver to “hold up, sir!”
  • Montana on The Move!

    By Rob Rath
    Historically, agriculture has always been Montana's foremost economic engine from jobs to exports. Because of the Great Depression and World War II, only 30% of working farms used gas-powered equipment into the 1940s, while the rest still relied on horses to work in the fields.
  • Get to Know a County: Lewis and Clark

    By Bryan Spellman
    Gold attracted people to the region, and Helena’s “main street” is a memorial to the early prospectors. Much of Last Chance Gulch is a pedestrian mall, and the turn-of-the-century architecture lining the sidewalks attracts the eye, just as the various window displays attract shoppers.
  • Miles City: Friendliest Town in the West

    By Donnie Sexton
    MC is a welcome break from the long stretch of I-94 that runs across southeastern Montana. It’s an ideal jumping off spot for a quick bite, filling the tank, stretching the legs or perhaps spending the night in one of the chain hotels. But to understand the heart of the city and why it’s sometimes referred to as the “cow capital of the world,” give yourself the gift of time to explore Miles City. This is best done by heading over to Main Street and checking out what makes the city tick.
  • Stagecoach Mary

    By Maggie Slepian
    One famed night, a pack of wolves frightened Mary’s team of horses, and the coach flipped on its side. Taking shelter behind the overturned vehicle, Mary held the wolf pack off all through the night, armed with her pistol and shotgun.
  • Old Red and 27 Seasons of Calving

    By Holly Matkin    
    Her body’s muscling and fat cover rival those of cows one-fifth her age, but the reality of time is less hidden in the telltale angles and shadows of her fa
  • Dolly Browder: America’s First Female Firefighter

    By Joanna Pocock
    Dolly Browder’s life story is one of milestones, not simply for Montana, but for women across the United States. Along with two other women, Zona Lindemann and Marcia Hogan, Browder formed the first paid fire-fighting crew for the US.
  • A Coward's Guide to the Scariest Ways to Die In Montana

    By Joseph Shelton
    They say freezing to death can be quite pleasant once delirium starts to set in. That is, pleasant enough at least when stacked up against nastier alternatives. We’re talking the real doozies. And since Montanans need little impetus to brag about the peculiarities of our state, the editorial staff of Distinctly Montana have prepared a very short list of the absolute worst ways to die here.
  • Frank Conley: Warden on the Edge

    Toss a coin. “Heads,” Frank Conley was a hero. “Tails,” Frank Conley was a villain. The trouble is, no matter how many times you toss the coin, it will land on edge.
  • Dorothy M. Johnson's Recycled Cinema

    By Sue Hart
    In the 1940s and early ‘50s, a double feature always included at least one Western, usually depicting Hollywood’s version of what Johnson claimed as her West—the frontier on which she set the majority of her stories.