People & Place

  • Unsolved Montana Murders

    By Joseph Shelton
    Every state has their unsolved murders, of which they are justifiably proud (or is it ashamed?), and Montana is no different. Here, then, are six of Montana’s most enigmatic cases. May they send a wintry chill down your spine, and make you glad of your hot cocoa.
  • Hooked On Lures

    By Ednor Therriault
    I let my eyes wander over the colorful forest of fish tempters, which have been hung in the order they were found, resulting in a random array of shapes, sizes, colors and styles. A sleek, white, torpedo-shaped plug with black dots for eyes hangs next to a segmented silver minnow jerkbait.
  • 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.
  • Montana's Mutilation Mystery

    By Sherman Cahill
    Along with Washington D.C.’s famous summer of the saucer sightings in 1952 and Point Pleasant, West Virginia’s hallucinatory year spent in the shadow of Mothman in 1966-1967, whatever really happened in Montana during its sustained ”flap“ constitutes one of the strangest episodes in the history of America’s long, intimate dance with the just-plain weird.
  • 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.
  • Meeting Tom Frye, the Montana Marksman

    By Frank Vargo
    As we neared the door to the store there was a roguishly handsome gentleman sitting on an old wooden Remington cartridge box that was inverted so as to make a seat. The gentleman was under a large cowboy hat, and he looked up at me and said, “Did you come for the shoot?” 
  • Fort Benton, Town Born of the River

    By Doug Stevens
    Enter Alexander Culbertson, the most influential person in the establishment and development of Fort Benton. Culbertson joined the American Fur Company in 1829 and soon became the principal trader with the Blackfeet. His wife, Natawista, was of the Canadian Blackfoot Blood Band, which gave Culbertson a great advantage in building trust with area tribes. 
  • 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?
  • Poetry in Motion: Bronc Riding in Montana

    By Hallie Zolynski, With Photos by the Author
    At the end of our conversation, Ty said, “I've walked this path many times in my career and I'm smiling through the buck offs and mild pain because I know what being disciplined will lead to. Not to mention I'm thankful to be able to walk this path at nearly 51.”
  • The Grabow and Her Sisters: Livingston’s Historic Hotels

    By Joseph Shelton
    Many, about to embark on the wilderness, therefore chose to seek lodging in Livingston. H. F. Sanders wrote in his three-volume History of Montana (1913) that visitors "will usually find themselves directed to the Grabow Hotel, one of the finest hostelries in the state..."
  • Get To Know Fallon County

    By Bryan Spellman
    Cabin Creek today is home to the Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline gas compressor station.  It lost its post office in 1931.  Ollie, near the North Dakota line, is another railroad town—this time the Northern Pacific.  Its post office was open from 1911 to 1955.  
  • Paradise By the Carton: The Legacy of the Marlboro Ranch

    By Cab Tran
    They longed for a way of life that no longer existed and in some cases never had, a Montana more mythical than Disney's Davey Crockett TV show and John Wayne matinees. They smoked their Marlboros and repeated their mantra: any day now I will get a call, and then I'll know it's my turn to go.
  • 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.
  • Duct Tape and Barbed Wire: The Story of Dave Brown

    By Hallie Zolynski, with photos by the author
    At first glance, he wouldn't make for a Fred Astaire, but he's better than a lot of men half his age, and he likes to show it. He says the old ladies he dances with have knee issues, and can't twirl because if you spin them around they get dizzy.
  • 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 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.
  • The Anaconda Pintler Wilderness

    By Hallie Zolynski
    The wilderness supports riparian forests that hold spruce, alpine larch, white bark pine and fir in the sub-alpine areas to vegetation up on the high mountain slopes. Wildlife include elk, bear, bighorn sheep, mountain goats along with one of my favorites, the Pika. It protects the watershed and boosts nearby economies with tourism.