People & Place

  • Great Falls: Defined by the Railroad and the Falls

    By Russell Rowland
    Perhaps one of the most significant towns that originally came about because of the railroad is Great Falls, although Great Falls developed a strong foundation around many other industries after its founding.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Yellowstone Brokers Presents: Jeff Carter Delivers Montana Boots to the World

    Sometimes they’re steel-toed and rubber-soled to protect the wearer. Sometimes they’re something we lace up tightly before filling our backpack with water and goodies and running into the mountains. But if you’re a Montanan, we’ve got a crisp ten-dollar bill that says you have a pair of boots. Or a whole closet full of them. 
  • Get To Know Wheatland County

    By Bryan Spellman
    It should surprise no one that a county named Wheatland has agriculture as its primary industry. Fully one-quarter of county workers are involved in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, according to the most recent city-data.com statistics, and that applies to both males and females.
  • The Old Broke Rancher Invents the Lewis & Clark Diet

    By Gary Shelton
    Dr. Pisberg is our family doctor, and sometimes I wonder about him. Mostly, I wonder if he can account for his whereabouts from 1933-1945 or so. Like any true sadist, he also knows that words can hurt much worse than sticks and stones or reflex hammers and tongue depressors.
  • 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.
  • On the Trail with Sheepherders, Groundskeepers of the Land

    By Hallie Zolynski, with photos by the author
    The name Montana conjures up cowboys herding cattle on the open prairie, and gunfighters hiding out in canyons to hide from rope-swinging vigilantes. But does Montana summon images of the lone sheepherder tending his flock and enduring days of solitude, bitter cold and the intense summer heat?
  • Charlie Chaplin’s Butte, America.

    By Joseph Shelton
    Chaplin’s autobiography lingers on a particular stop along his tour, an American city which, even from the distance of a half a century on and a continent away, he was able to recall vividly: Butte, Montana.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • The Beartooth Highway: Then and Now

    By Holly Matkin
    At nearly 11,000 feet, the sprawling alpine tundra at the height of the Beartooth Pass has been referred to by many as the “Top of the World.” What better way to experience the harrowing thrill of driving one of the highest-elevation roadways in the United States than from the back of a motorcycle?
  • The Rowdy History of Miles City's Bucking Horse Sale

    By Renee Carlson, with photos by Todd Klassy
    Pristine horses led to the creation of the World Famous Bucking Horse Sale, a weeklong “apocalyptic extravaganza of horsemanship” which includes a kick-off concert, mutton busting, trade shows, fast-talking auctioneers, multiple street dances and much more.
  • Get To Know Powder River County

    By Bryan Spellman
    With the exception of 1970, Powder River County has lost population every decade since 1930, when 3,909 folk lived in the county. That count placed it at number 46 in the state, but somehow the county ended up with 9 on its license plates.