People & Place

  • 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 People Who Feed Montana

    By Susie Wall
    Agriculture is Montana's largest industry, bringing in close to four billion dollars to the economy every year. The role agriculture plays in the lives of all Montanans can't be understated.
  • Montana's Road Ghosts and Phantom Hitchhikers

    By Renee Carlson, Illustrated by Rob Rath
    Also referred to as vanishing hitchhikers, these are ghosts that haunt our roadways. Some seek to hitch a ride with the living and others simply drift through the thin veil between worlds to appear briefly on the side of the road.
  • Get to Know a County: Mineral County

    By Bryan Spellman
    On August 7th, 1914, the Montana Legislature created Mineral County, taking the western end of Missoula County and placing the seat at Superior.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.