People & Place

  • The Curious Afterlife of Montana’s Ghost Towns

    By Joseph Shelton
    Bannack, named (and misspelled) for the Bannock Indians, was the first territorial capital of Montana and was built on the spot of the territory’s first major gold rush in 1862.  The population grew to 3,000 a mere year later, and the town became famous, or infamous, when Sheriff Plummer began moonlighting as one of its most industrious highwaymen.
  • 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.
  • Downhill

    By William Muhlenfeld
    Woosh! Doug executed a perfect parallel stop as he reached to wipe his goggles, which again were beginning to cake with the heavy snowfall. He peered into the white, attempting to see if he could spot his ski buddies who had taken the blue run when he charged off the black diamond ridge tagged as Dead Drop.
  • 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?
  • Simple Practices for a Joyful, Stress-free Winter

    By Kristy LeRay
    Depression can creep in this time of year and steal your joy. The pandemic has rocked our world and caused so much stress and anxiety. Add a life crisis, divorce, or loss of a loved one to that, and you may not want to get out of bed in the mornings. I was there and can relate. The simplest actions helped transform my life.
  • Get To Know A County: Rosebud

    By Bryan Spellman
    Roughly halfway between Lame Deer and Colstrip, the Deer Medicine Rocks are a National Historic Landmark, located on private property with no public access. The landmark memorializes the site where Lakota Chief Sitting Bull had a vision foretelling his success over the U.S. 7th Cavalry led by General George Armstrong Custer.
  • A Gallery of Montana Eccentrics

    By Bryan D'Ambrosio
    He was the buzz of 1900s Broadway and a gender bender of silent films. Long-forgotten actor and female impersonator Julian Eltinge was especially popular in Butte, where he accepted his first theater position as an usher at the old John Maguire Opera House at Butte.
  • 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.
  • 3-7-77: Warning or Whimsy?

    By Teresa Otto
    A popular theory is it’s the measurements of a grave,” Evalyn Johnson, author and archivist at the Thompson-Hickman County Library in Virginia City, said. “But no one knows for sure,” local writer Angela Mueller added.
  • Get To Know A County: Beaverhead

    By Bryan Spellman
    One of Montana’s nine original counties, Beaverhead is the state’s largest county in area. Excepting minor boundary changes with neighboring Madison County, Beaverhead is the same size and shape as when it was first created.
  • Montana in 30 Years: Transportation

    In recent years, flying cars technologies have come a long way and what once viewed a science fiction will soon become a reality. As we speak, start-ups and major brands are developing them, including Boeing, Hyundai, Airbus, Toyota and Uber.
  • 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.
  • 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 Grain Elevators

    By Teresa Otto
    Across the Great Plains in both the U.S. and Canada, up to 30,000 prairie skyscrapers dotted the landscape during their heyday in the 1920s and 1930s. Today only about a third of the old wooden grain elevators are left. 
  • St. Marie

    By Ednor Therriault
    As you approach it, the shape becomes houses. Lots of them. A couple of water towers join the skyline. It looks like you’re coming up on a little Montana town, out here in almost-no-man’s-land. And it is a town, or rather, was.
  • The Evelyn Cameron Gallery

    By Brian D'Ambrosio
    Cameron’s photographs attest to the strength of frontier women; they rope and ride, tend to animals and gardens, bake and fry for families, sheep-shearers and farm crews, and harvest in the wheat fields.