• Mary Gunstone has attended all but two Helena Brewers games in the past three decades. Photo courtesy of the Helena Independent Record

    Helena resident has become the ultimate minor league baseball fan

    By Gabriel Furshong

    Tickets were just a couple dollars when Mary Gunstone began attending Helena Brewers baseball games in 1985, but she got into her first game for free.

    It was Buttrey’s Food and Drug night at the ballpark and employees were given complimentary tickets. Gunstone was a baker at the store and also served as the staff photographer.

    She took her camera to that first game, started snapping photos of the players – and never stopped.

    In the three decades since, Gunstone has only missed two games: the first for her father’s funeral and the second for her 50th class reunion.

    “I told them they should have it at the ballpark, but they didn’t do that for me,” she said, with a touch of regret.

    • Learn more about the Helena Brewers’ Kindrick Legion field here

    Across the country, there are more than 200 minor league teams associated with Major League Baseball, from Los Angeles, California, to Danville, Virginia, and as the list of cities descends from large to small, there is a reverse correlation between the celebrity of the game and the intimacy of the experience.

    Helena lies at the bottom of that list, among the Top 10 smallest markets in all of professional baseball.

    To read the full story about Mary Gunstone, subscribe today. 

  • The Stage Road Inn is a three bedroom bed and breakfast near Dodson. Photo by Jack McNeel

    Stage Road Inn is the ulitmate backroad B&B

    Story and photo by Jack McNeel

    The bedroom windows were open to let in the fresh meadow breezes as I turned in for the night. Moments later the yips and yodeling of coyotes permeated the room, a grand way to drift off to sleep. After I awakened during the night, the song dogs again started singing, perhaps to lull me back to sleep.

    Not everyone enjoys coyotes, but I love their music and on this particular night, it reflected the nature of the Stage Road Inn Bed and Breakfast – a charming stop off Montana Highway 204 outside Dodson – where neighbors and places for visitors to stay are few and far between.

    Morning light provided a similar relaxing tone with a low bank of mist hanging over the nearby meadows.

    The Stage Road Inn is on the outskirts of Dodson just east of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. That’s one reason for the strong Native American décor owner Sandy Calk has used inside the converted farm house.

    Stage Road Inn Bed and Breakfast

    The Stage Road Inn was built in the early 1900s and is run by owner Sandy Calk, who turned it into a bed and breakfast more than 20 years ago.

    For more information, call 406-383-4410, email stajrdin@mtintouch.net or visit http://www.stageroadinn.com/.

    To read the entire story on the Stage Road Inn, subscribe today! 

  • Jackson Glacier is one of the many glaciers Seth Eagleton has photographer for his Glacier Preservation Project. Photo by Seth Eagleton

    Portfolio: Glacier’s glaciers, before they’re gone

    Photography of Seth Eagleton

    The Glacier National Park Seth Eagleton’s kids see today won’t be the park they see when they’re grown.

    Whether the 25 glaciers remaining inside Glacier are gone in 5 years or 20, their retreat is changing the face of the Crown of the Continent.

    “When I was hiking around in high school there was 35 (glaciers),” Eagleton said. “At the turn of last century, there were 150, they’re fading fast.”

    As the Columbia Falls native scrambles and climbs through the wild backcountry in the park he considers his backyard, he knows there’s nothing he can do to stop the glaciers from melting.

    Instead, Eagleton has created the Glacier Preservation Project, and is on a mission to carefully and artfully photograph each of the park’s remaining glaciers.

    “I want to make sure we’ve got something to remember them by,” said Eagleton, who noticed no one was attempting to capture photos of all the glaciers when he worked gathering social media content for Glacier Park Inc.

    Now a full-time wedding photographer who works with his wife, Jill, Eagleton has visited and photographed a good portion of the glaciers in the past several years.

    Glacier Preservation Project is currently a digital project. Eagleton posts images from the glaciers he and his family visit online at glacierpreservationproject.com, and on several social media sites where the project has a steady following.

    According to the U.S. National Park Service, there were 150 glaciers inside Glacier in 1850.

    Today, there are 25 that “remain large enough (at least 25 acres in area) to be considered a functional glacier.”

    It’s predicted that by 2030, all the glaciers will be gone, according to NPS.

    Eagleton’s journeys to the glaciers are often arduous – finding a safe hiking approach to the most inaccessible glaciers is a constant challenge.

    Along with backpacking gear, Eagleton hikes with as much as 65-70 pounds of camera gear.

    Recently, he’s had several of the older set of his six kids in tow as well.

    Eagleton says there’s never been this kind of comprehensive photographic documentation of Glacier’s glaciers – at least none with such an artistic twist.

    Eagleton photographs each glacier in several ways. First, finding a wide, more scenic “distance” shot. Then, he gets on the glaciers and examines the “details” so “you catch on to the atmosphere,” he said, to show “what did it feel like to be there?”

    “Some are really bleak; it’s melting fast so nothing has had a chance to grow up. Some are really lush and it really speaks of Glacier National Park and what it has to offer,” Eagleton said.

    Eagleton will focus on glaciers in the northern portion of the park this summer, and if weather and routes cooperate, he’ll finish photographing the glaciers this summer.

    Then, Eagleton is planning to self publish a book about the project, funding it through an upcoming Kickstarter campaign.

    What Eagleton won’t do is get political. He said he can’t say exactly what is causing the glaciers’ retreat.

    “I’m not trying to push a bunch of controversial subjects, the fact is we’re losing our glaciers,” he said. “We’re going to lose them and whether it’s in 5 years or 10 years – I’m not a scientist, I’m good at observation – it would just be a shame if we didn’t have something to remember them by.”

    • Glacier Preservation Project: To learn more about Seth Eagleton’s Glacier Preservation Project, and for a link to the Kickstarter campaign to help fund a coffee table book about the project, visit glacierpreservationproject.com.

    To view the entire Glacier Preservation Project Portfolio, subscribe today. 

  • The Fort Peck Theatre first opened as a movie theater 80 years ago. Photo by Erik Petersen

    Fort Peck Summer Theatre draws crowds from across state, world

    By Richard Peterson

    Photos by Erik Petersen

    Home to one of Montana’s oldest theaters, Fort Peck is one of those tiny prairie towns where the birds often compete with the wind to generate the loudest noise.

    During summertime weekends, however, there is stiffer competition.

    “It’s shocking to be here at 6 p.m. and there are no cars on the street. One hour later there’s a thousand people in the audience,” said Andy Meyers, artistic director for the Fort Peck Summer Theatre. “It’s a magical place.”

    Tucked away in the northeastern corner of Montana, the 1,200-seat theater has been entertaining audiences for 45 years. But lately it’s attracting more and more people to the area hailing from neighboring states and, more frequently, foreign countries.

    Originally built to entertain the Fort Peck Dam construction workers, the 80-year-old theater’s popularity has grown along with the size and quality of its shows, attracting Broadway-quality talent that stage five shows each season.

    Those are a few of the reasons people will spend hours behind the wheel to see a production.

    “It takes us two and a half hours from our farm,” said Maryann Yorga, of Rock Glenn, located 22 miles north of Jordan.

    2015 Fort Peck Summer Theatre Season

    May 29 – June 7: Always…Patsy Cline

    June 12 – 28: One Man. Two Guvnors

    July 10 – July 26: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

    July 31 – Aug. 16: Tarzan

    Aug. 21 – Sept. 6: Steel Magnolias

    To read the entire story on the Fort Peck Theatre, subscribe today. 

  • A heron sits near its nest at the Drummond rookery. The birds don't always return to the same nest every year, and ususally have a different mate each season. Photo by Tom Bauer

    High-roost rockery entices great blue herons to western Montana

    By Rob Chaney 

    DRUMMOND – It’s not everywhere you can get eye to eye with a wild heron during mating season.

    Great blue herons (Ardea herodias) return to southwestern Montana to raise their chicks in rookeries – the avian equivalent of high-rise apartment living. While they typically don’t like human intrusions, Montana Highway 1 heading south from Drummond offers a great compromise.

    A great blue heron flies over a rookery of about 30 nests recently near Drummond. The rookery has at least 20 herons flying about just to the west of Montana Highway 1 near the Clark Fork River. Photo by Tom Bauer

    A great blue heron flies over a rookery of about 30 nests recently near Drummond. The rookery has at least 20 herons flying about just to the west of Montana Highway 1 near the Clark Fork River. Photo by Tom Bauer

    “I just love watching them,” rancher Sherilee Lund said of the colony that’s nested next to her cow pasture for the past decade.

    While a former railroad grade on her land goes right by the cottonwood grove, the highway bridge that spans it combines better elevation with a comfortable security distance for the birds. Neither zooming cars nor photographers wandering along the guardrail prompted any disturbance on the nests.

    Lund said it appeared the rookery was unused when she and husband Bob Lund moved to Drummond from Hall about 12 years ago. A few years later, a couple of pairs began nesting there.

    “I’m guessing once they got started again, they stay for several years,” Lund said. “Not all the nests are occupied every year.”

    Last week, at least 20 herons were sitting in or standing by at least 31 nests in the grove of cottonwood trees. The big birds can all but disappear in the clots of twigs and branches, with only their heads visible above the rim. The nests don’t look deep enough for a heron to disappear like that, especially when the mate is standing right beside it.

    Sherilee Lund walks along her road next to the rookery. Lund has been keeping tabs on the herons for several years. Photo by Tom Bauer

    Sherilee Lund walks along her road next to the rookery. Lund has been keeping tabs on the herons for several years. Photo by Tom Bauer

    One nest provided a gruesome reminder of the challenges herons face in the modern world. While two birds went about their ways above, a third, dead heron hung from the underside of the nest.

    “My guess is that it got tangled up in monofilament fishing line and died,” said Erick Greene, a University of Montana bird biologist who’s kept track of the Drummond rookery. “This is a major source of mortality for herons (like) ospreys with baling twine. I have done a lot of work on this issue – trying to reduce the amount of fishing line and baling twine that people leave out in the environment.”

    Read the rest of the story here

  • web cam

    How’s spring progressing in MT? Check out our web cams

    No matter where you are, it’s easy to keep track of Montana these days.

    We’ve compiled a list of web cams – with links! – for everything from ski mountains to national parks.

    As the state thaws, the cams are a good way to keep track of spring’s progress through the web cams.

    You can check in on Lake McDonald in Glacier, or the geysers in Yellowstone.

    Take second to check out our Web Cams of Montana page.



  • The Kyi-Yo Powwow was held in Missoula April 18. Photo by Tom Bauer

    Drums and dancers: Kyi-Yo Powwow brings thousands to UM

    By Dillon Kato
    As the floor filled for the grand entrance, Native American dancers began to transition from a walk, spinning and hopping until the ground beneath them disappeared into a swirl of beadwork, feathers, staves, antlers, bone and face paint – the annual Kyi-Yo Powwow had begun with the beat of a drum.
    Bobbie White of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe fixes the hair and regalia of two-year-old Kiki Louie prior to the grand entry at the Kyi-Yo Powwow. Photo by Tom Bauer

    Bobbie White of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe fixes the hair and regalia of two-year-old Kiki Louie prior to the grand entry at the Kyi-Yo Powwow. Photo by Tom Bauer

    Muted earth tones of elders mixed with the fluorescent blues and greens of children as metal chimes rang on women’s jingle dresses during Saturday’s event at the University of Montana’s Adams Center.

    • View a photo slideshow from Kyi-Yo here

    As important as the dancers were the drum circles, led this year by host drum Standing Horse from South Dakota. David Lone Elk and his fellow drummers are responsible not only for playing in the grand entries of the dancers but also for singing the special songs and keeping the beat of the powwow.

    Standing Horse was given the honor of host drum after winning the drum competition at last year’s Kyi-Yo, the first time they had attended the event. Lone Elk said he had known about the powwow because he had listened to another drum group who had recorded their album there.

    Photo by Tom Bauer

    Photo by Tom Bauer

    “I knew about Kyi-Yo long before I knew it was even in Missoula. We only found out last year when we decided to come here and found it was going to be a 14 hour drive,” he said.

    Amber Shaffer, co-president of the Kyi-Yo Native American Student Association at the University of Montana that puts on the event, said this year members put an emphasis on being more involved with the community to help drive awareness and attendance. This included volunteering at other events as well as holding more Native American-themed activities during the week leading up to the powwow.

    Photo by Tom Bauer

    Photo by Tom Bauer

    “Even after so many years, it’s crazy how many Missoulians have never gone. We want to change that,” she said.

    The 47th annual Kyi-Yo Powwow is one of the oldest running student-organized powwows in the nation, Shaffer said.

    • Read the rest of the story here
  • Garnet volunteers are treated to amazing night time views. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management

    Come live in a Montana ghost town

    Looking for an unusual summer gig this year?

    You could really get to know Garnet Ghost Town, a popular Montana state park that brings in volunteers to run summer tours. The town’s needs a summer volunteer this year.

    Perks: A summer spent outdoors getting to know one of the most historical places in the state.

    Garnet Ghost Town contains several restored buildings from its years as a gold- and silver-mining boomtown. Photo courtesy of Bob Wick, BLM

    Garnet Ghost Town contains several restored buildings from its years as a gold- and silver-mining boomtown.
    Photo courtesy of Bob Wick, BLM

    BLM provides a private furnished cabin with propane stove and refrigerator, wood stove and a food stipend. Volunteers will provide visitor information, lead tours and handle sales of souvenirs.

    Those interested could also work with area maintenance, assisting with special events and developing signs and exhibits. Background checks are required for all applicants.

    Downsides: No running water. No Wi-Fi.

    “It’s primitive, to say the least,” U.S. Bureau of Land Management Garnet Ranger Nacoma Gainan said. “It’s for people who love the outdoors and want to give back. There’s no electricity, no Wi-Fi and no running water. But there are trails to explore, artifacts to inspect. Volunteers are really left to their own devices after the visitors are gone.”

    Still, if you’re hoping to apply, you better hurry. The story about the opening spread far and wide across the Internet.

    Here’s the application instructions:  Contact BLM Missoula Field Office by calling (406) 329-3735 or by email at ngainan@blm.gov. For more information about Garnet, visit the Missoula Field Office’s website at blm.gov/j5ld or the Garnet Preservation Association’s site at blm.gov/k5ld.

    Good luck!


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