People & Place

  • 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.
  • 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!”
  • 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.
  • Butte Will Rise Again!

    By Sherman Cahill
    You already know the story: thousands of immigrants, arriving at Ellis Island, carrying signs bearing the name of their intended destination. They read, not "Butte, Montana," but "Butte, America." Because Montana, one of the biggest states in the Union, was too small to contain the legend of the Mining City. 
  • For the Love Of... Chinook Horses

    The great American writer Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, proved he knew horses nearly as well as whales when he said, "No philosophers so thoroughly comprehend us as dogs and horses." That comprehension shows itself in remarkable ways—horses will sidle up close, nuzzle you, even lovingly nip at you.
  • Get to Know A County: Lincoln

    By Bryan Spellman
    As the Kootenai River cut its canyon between the Percell Mountains (shown as Purcell on Canadian maps) to the north and the Cabinet Mountains to the south, the view is almost disorienting; it is hard to feature being at Montana’s lowest point when you’re surrounded by mountains rising 5,000 to 6,000 feet above you. 
  • From Cowboys to the Cold War:

    By Joseph Shelton
    But while the Cold War never escalated beyond proxy wars and nuclear proliferation, it did change Montana, and the landscape of the West, forever. As author Ian Frazier writes, the nuclear missile silo has become "one of the quintessential Great Plains objects," along with the American bison, the prairie dog, and the outhouse.
  • The Old Broke Rancher on How Snowflake the Calf Ruined His Entire Morning!

    By Gary Shelton
    I went to the cow then, for a friendly visit, only to discover she was in a fit of bovine rage. This, too was not a good sign. As a fat old man, I figure it was about even odds in a fair fight, but I refused to die without another cup of coffee, so I started to trudge back to the house when I noticed it: a wretched little bundle of white, barely visible amidst the snow.
  • Warrior Spirit: Celebrating Native American Veterans

    By Ellen Baumler
    While some of Montana’s Indian veterans have been individually honored, the contributions of many others remain unrecognized. The Warrior Spirit Project Consortium, created in 2019, aims to change that.
  • Roger Rouse: “The Opportunity Kid”

    By Brian D’Ambrosio
    Roger Rouse might be the best athlete in Montana’s history who most people today do not remember. Indeed, even in 1999 when Sports Illustrated compiled its list of the 50 greatest sports figures from Montana, Rouse failed to rank, although two other boxers, Marvin Camel (#18) and Todd Foster (#40), were included.