Take a jaunt down Billings’ Sugar Ave.
There’s a street in Billings called Sugar Avenue, and it ‘s a very appropriately named street. That’s because every winter, more than 1.5 million pounds of sugar is produced at the Western Sugar Cooperative plant.
Contributor Jennifer McKee took us into the refinery in our July/August issue, taking readers through the process of making sugar from Montana-grown sugar beets. It’s quite a process.
The sugar ends up in products across the world, helping to sweeten things you’ve almost definitely eaten (like Wilcoxson’s ice cream or Wheat Montana bread).
But how do you make sugar from a beet? Here’s a quick breakdown of the process:
From seed to sugar
Seed: From mid-April to May, planting season begins for beet farmers on 150 Montana farms from Bridger to Custer
Root: From May through September the seeds begin to grow on the 24,000 acres of Montana farmland into what will become white, two-to five- pound, foot-long sugar beets. Beets contain up to 22 percent sucrose
Sugar beet: In September, harvesting season begins and roughly 1.5 billion of pounds of sugar beets are shipped to “beet dumps” around the state. Beets are then delivered by truck to the Billings refinery
Refining: From September through mid-February, once at the Western Sugar Cooperative refinery, beets are taken through a three hour process to make sugar. The refinery runs nonstop producing sugar
Sugar water: Inside the refinery every day beets are washed in river water, sliced with precision, dropped into a diffuser where steam coaxes out sugar. The resulting sugar water is then pumped into pans that induce crystallization
Crystals: As sugar crystals form, they’re sent through a centrifuge that blasts the last of the water from the sugar
Sugar: The sugar is spun dry and packaged. Every day of operation, the Billings refinery produces 1.5 million pounds of sugar. Sugar is shipped from the refinery to facilities across the world, including to Hershey, Penn.
Survey says Montana home to 2 top national parks
You probably saw this online poll making the social media rounds in the past couple weeks, asking people to vote for the nation’s best national park.
Easy choice right?!? Well there are two easy choices for most Montanans…
I think we can all agree it should’ve been a tie for first, with Glacier and Yellowstone at the top. But it was Maine’s Acadia National Park that took the No. 1 spot.
Still, pretty good showing for MT. And in case this makes you want to go and see the parks, we have a great suggestion on the best way to take in the scenery.
Writer Ednor Therriault wrote a great feature in our July/August issue about the iconic red and yellow buses the operate inside Glacier and Yellowstone. It really is a fun story. And even if you’ve seen the parks, Ednor says you’re missing out if you haven’t seen them in a bus.
Centennial farms and ranches: Celebrating a century of MT stories
“These days, to have a job for 10 years is something of an achievement. To spend an entire lifetime on something is remarkable, and to spend multiple lifetimes in dogged determination is downright admirable.”
That’s what Montana photographer Thomas Lee told our readers to introduce his Portfolio of photos that documented the lives of three Montana centennial ranching families in our July/August issue.
Lee’s Portfolio, “A Century of Stories” introduced readers to three of the 28 Montana families that have been honored by the Montana Historical Society’s Montana Centennial Farm and Ranch program.
You can meet the families Lee highlights and learn more about the program with our interactive map. To see all the photos, pick up our July/August issue.
Slideshow: Bald eagles across Montana
In case you’re in need of a little patriotic boost this Fourth of July Friday, our Facebook friends helped us put together this collection of Montana bald eagles.
As always, they captured some amazing images. Thanks to everyone who shared.
Enjoy and Happy Fourth of July.
Glacier National Park in spotlight of July/August issue
Our fourth issue of 2014 is taking readers into the heart of one of the most special places on earth (at least us Montanans think so): Glacier National Park.
As you can see on our cover, we’ve got some gorgeous and amazing features to share.
Mountain goats, you should know, are under observation in Glacier as park officials continue a three year study to determine how the increased visitor numbers are affecting the goats.
We’ll also show you how, after 100 years, the remaining operating chalets in Glacier are thriving.
And we’ll take you on a ride on the famous Red Jammers inside Glaicer. How does that compare to a ride on the iconic yellow buses in Yellowstone National Park? Read our feature to find out.
Handpicked horses help riders find mobility, independence
Here’s a sweet story out of the Bitterroot Valley for you on a almost-summer Thursday.
The Bitterroot Theraputic Ranch near Corvallis is home to special horses that, as writer Brett Berntsen explains, have a very special duties.
Take Tonah, for example:
Tonah, a Norwegian Fjord, fits the mold perfectly. As a small draft horse, she can carry heavy loads yet isn’t tall, making it easy to mount and dismount. Moreover, she has the calm, patient demeanor necessary for long days in the arena.
. . .
Astride a beige mare named Tonah, Abbie Jessop leads the exercise. Despite being born with cerebral palsy and nearly deaf, the 18-year-old Pinesdale resident rides independently.
She steers the patient mare next to a metal rack holding plastic rings. Reaching up with a shaky hand, she spears a ring and drops it onto a nearby cone like a gaucho in training.
We featured the ranch in our May/June issue with a spread of amazing photos by photography Lido Vizzutti. Grab a copy to see all the photos.
Until then, the full story is online now.
State parks offer 54 unique places to play
There are 54 state parks (soon to be 55) spread out across the expanse of Montana. Few people can say they’ve been to every one.
From the almost 12,000 acre Makoshika in the east to Les Mason up in the northwestern corner of the state, how do you know where to go?
We were happy to help the Montana State Parks celebrate its 75th anniversary in our May/June issue with the help of the wonderful Kristen Inbody and Erin Madison – two Montanans who can say they’ve been to every one of the state parks.
To prove it, they wrote a guide book and travel companion that was recently published. It’s a great guide to have on you dashboard as you travel Montana.
If you want to learn more about the parks right now, check out our interactive map with our preview of the 75th anniversary feature.
Don’t forget to find us on Instagram (montanamagazine) to see images from the state parks we visit this year.
Makoshika named one of country’s top ‘hidden gem’ parks
Makoshika State Park – one of our FAVORITES – was featured as a “hidden gem” in Country Magazine‘s recent feature that included other lesser known parks across the country.
The intro to the feature supports the notion that Makoshika is tops:
These national and state parks don’t get as much attention as others, but we think they’re among the best parks in the United States.
What did Country love about Makoshika?
It’s “soaring rock formations and prehistoric relics” make it a “surprisingly fascinating and colorful destination.”
We have a list of the top four things to do at Makoshika, an online post that paired with our portfolio on the park published in the March/April issue of MT Mag.
Other gems included Baxter State Park in Maine and Palo Duro Canyon in Texas.