People & Place

  • 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.
  • Big Sky Bravery

    By Holly Matkin
    As a member of the U.S. Special Operations (SOF) community for nearly two decades, Rob Vaughan has accepted the likely imminence of his own death more times than he cares to count. 
  • 3-7-77: A History of Montana's Most Ominous Numbers...

    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.
  • Montana's Mysterious Rock Show

    By Holly Matkin
    They seemed oddly out-of-place in the landscape, as if they had been dumped out of the sky and onto the forest floor below. Their rusty color contrasted with the drab gray of the boulders lying outside the perimeter of the pile.
  • 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.
  • The Bison Hunters

    By Joseph Shelton
    There was a market for their tongues in the trendy restaurants of the East, selling for $8 - $9 for a dozen. And "buffalo hump" was also a Christmas tradition for many in the West - an 1846 holiday feast at Fort Edmonton served "boiled buffalo hump," "boiled buffalo calf," and "whitefish browned in buffalo marrow." 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A Scratching Post for Bobcats

    By John Phillips
    Forgive me if this is indelicate, but brown trout are carnivorous. Brown trout eat other brown trout. Also mice. Also anything that wiggles, including fish being retrieved by an Orvis rod. Little freshwater sharks is what they are.
  • A Call to Serve: Rural Policing in Montana

    By Holly Matkin
    Awakening at 3 a.m. to jingling keys and the unmistakable ripping of Velcro from the unfastening of a bullet-resistant vest was always a peaceful predawn ritual for me. It was so much better than the silence that prevailed through the darkest part of the night.
  • All Aboard the Mid-Century Empire Builder

    By Sherman Cahill
    There, as the train wound through the mountains and wilds of Montana on its way to Chicago, thirsty travelers could drink in the view. And, of course, the booze. 
  • The Sacred Tradition of the Sweat Lodge

    By Joseph Shelton
    From the Aztecs to the Innuit, sweat lodges were and are employed for their curative, therapeutic, and spiritual effects. And here in Montana, which enjoys a privileged relationship with its old ways, the traditional sweat lodge is vividly alive.