‘All things mountainous’: How Montana became Montana
The simplest Spanish translation of the word Montana is “all things mountainous.”
But just how did the Montana of today get its name 150 years ago? The wonderful Kim Briggeman, a reporter for the Missoulian, has a great story on the naming of what is sometimes also called the Big Sky State.
We’re celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Montana Territory this week (it was May 26, 1864, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the legislation creating the territory).
Since, of course, a lot has happened.
We’ve included part of the story in our May/June issue. If you want to know more, writer Jesse Zentz put together a list of books that delve deeper into a wide variety of Montana history subjects.
Montana history recommended reading list:
Montana 1864, by Kenneth Egan (due out in September 2014), explores the year Montana became a territory in detail, giving special attention to tribal nations.
Montana: High, Wide, and Handsome, by Joseph Kinsey Howard, is a history book about Montana, but often reads like a novel and provides readers with detailed descriptions and a unique take on this state’s past.
The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology, edited by William Kittredge and Annick Smith, features a compilation of some of the very best writing about Montana, which is home to a surprising number of true literary artists.
Montana Territory and the Civil War, by Ken Robison, introduces readers to many of the people touched by the Civil War who populated Montana, demonstrating the incredible impact the events in the eastern United States had on the territory and state.
Montana: A History of Two Centuries, by Michael P. Malone, Richard B Roeder, William L. Lang, offers a general but comprehensive textbook-style history of Montana.
Territorial Politics and Government in Montana 1864-89, by Clark C. Spence, offers a close look at Montana’s early political landscape that eventually led to statehood in 1889.
Montana: An Uncommon Land, by K. Ross Toole, provides another take on Montana history that’s as enjoyable to read as it is informative.
Help us celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Montana Territory
There was no Memorial Day holiday to celebrate 150 years ago, but the early settlers of the place we now call Montana did have something to cheer on May 26, 1864: The day when President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation creating the Montana Territory.
The land – and more what was underneath it – was an important commodity for the nation suffering from the Civil War. As writer Jesse Zentz explains in his feature (in the May/June issue of Montana Magazine) gold was an all-important factor to many of the settlers who came to Montana around 1864.
Gold was king in bustling mining communities like Bannack and Virginia City, which pulsed with activity; while today’s larger cities were in their infancy or were simply nonexistent.
Vigilantes played the role of judge, jury and executioner. In a span of less than two months bridging 1863 and 1864, the Montana Vigilantes hanged 24 men as they ruthlessly wiped out Bannack Sheriff Henry Plummer’s gang, which killed more than 100 people and robbed countless others.
Next week on MontanaMagazine.com, we’ll be posting about the 150th anniversary of the Montana Territory each day. Look for facts, slideshows, and upcoming event information. On Tuesday, we’ll have a recommended reading list for all Montana history buffs.
You can also find us on Twitter (@montanamagazine) and Facebook.com/MontanaMagazine for more about Montana Territory at 150.
Whiskey-loving grandpa inspires creation of distillery, brewery
If you live in Great Falls or Missoula you’ve probably tried Bowser Brewing Co.’s craft brews (Great Falls) or Montgomery Distillery’s craft spirits (Missoula).
Bowser and Montgomery boast one-of-a-kind Montana made drinks and both are steadily growing as more and more people discover their stuff.
As writer and photographer Jessica Lowry tells us in the May/June issue, for the founders of the businesses, the connections goes a little deeper. The founders of the businesses are cousins who’ve used their grandfather’s Montana, legacy, love of a good drink and hard working attitude to make their businesses thrive under the Big Sky.
Evan Bowser, 29, as the owner of Bowser Brewing Company in Great Falls, and his cousin, Ryan Montgomery, 36, as the head of Montgomery Distillery in Missoula, operate businesses pouring finely crafted brews and spirits created from ingredients mostly found in Montana.
But what exactly can you drink at Montgomery and Bowser? Lots of good stuff.
At Montgomery, one of the house cocktails favorites is the Go Gingerly (pictured in the May/June issue). It includes the distillery’s Whyte Ladie gin, muddled ginger and basil, grapefruit and lemon, ginger syrup and grapefruit bitters (I’ve had it, it’s great).
At Bowser, one of the most popular brews is the Farmers Daughter Strawberry Blonde - a German ale with a strawberry twist. Bowser is known for its prolific brew list, which you can explore on the website. If you get a chance to go to Bowser, you can try a sampler served on trays handmade by Evan’s father, Rich.
Meet the toughest kid in Montana
Koni Dole is a pretty inspiring (and tough) kid.
Dole, the subject of our Big Sky Spotlight for the May/June issue, lost his leg after a football injury in 2012. But as writer Jim Gransbery tells us, during the first game of the 2013 season, Koni was on the field.
With a pair of very intense brown eyes, Dole is the walking definition of focused. In a private interview after a strenuous workout accompanied by his best friend, Tanner Miller, Dole described his thought processes leading up to his decision that the way forward was to cut back his damaged leg.
“I was stuck in bed for a week,” he said. “Everything was OK. One day my parents (Nancy and Fualelei Andy Dole) came into the room. They were upset. There was a look on their faces.
“Everything that controls the foot was gone. I had a non-functioning foot. It was depressing. I had worked my (butt) off. I had goals. But the choice lit a fire in me. Actions speak louder than words, so I had to accept it. It was my best chance of coming back.”
The work to get back onto the field was painful and intense. Jim told me he’d never come across such a tough and determined kid. And in 2014, Koni will walk on to the Montana State University football team.
His answer to the question “What three words describe Montana?”: Close-knit communities.
Spring scenes: A photo gallery to help you thaw out
As Montana continues to thaw out from another cold winter, we thought it’d be nice to share some spring scenes with you, courtesy of our great Facebook friends who continually share their images from across Montana with us.
A special thanks to Robin K. Hao for the beautiful images of the Flathead River and “Getting Green” in Northwestern Montana; Mike Holt for the image of the Cooke Pass plows; George Tillman for the image of the robin nest; and Natatum Haines for the image of the spring runoff near Libby.
MT Mag book reviews: Premium page turners
There’s probably not a lot of people who read more than Montana Magazine’s ace book reviewer Doug Mitchell, who writes the Montana book features for each issue.
But if you’re looking for some good readin’ here’s Doug’s reviews for our May/June issue.
Make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom so you can read a really great Q&A with Badluck Way author Bryce Andrews. Doug asks Andrews about his motivations to write the books, and about Andrew’s conflicting feelings about the role of ranching and the role of wolves across Montana’s farmlands.
As Doug writes:
In Badluck Way author and ranch hand Bryce Andrews moves the debate from policy to practice as he shares with us his year working on the Sun Ranch in the magnificent Madison Valley. In doing so, Andrews challenges us to see these debates differently because, as is often the case, the reality of a real-life decision is very different than an intellectual one.
But to describe Andrews’ book as a useful and interesting academics-meets-real-life story is to significantly diminish the accomplishments of this first book from a very gifted writer.
You can read more of Doug’s reviews here.
Ready, Set, Go! to the Thompson River Chain of Lakes
It’s still early spring – not quite camping weather for most of us – but those beautiful and sunny spring days make it hard not to start thinking about those summer rec plans.
If you’re looking for ideas, we’ve got a good one in the May/June issue of Montana Magazine where Gordon and Cathie Sullivan tell us about the Thompson River Chain of Lakes in between Libby and Kalispell.
We’re calling it the perfect tranquil retreat.
Like a brilliant string of emeralds, the lakes thread throughout 3,000 heavily forested acres pressed between the Salish Mountains to the north and the rugged Cabinet Mountains to the south.
Experts like Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Gael Bissell will tell you the remote Thompson River Chain of Lakes is not only a beautiful and restful recreation spot, but also represents an important stronghold for common loons, those well-dressed birds of distinction.
Among lakes to experience nesting loons is Little McGregor, Horseshoe, Island and Lower Thompson, but approach with extreme caution and stay well outside the bright yellow buoys for best encounters. Foggy spring mornings are best. Other loon sittings can occur on almost any of the lakes in the chain.
Here’s how to find the Thompson River Chain of Lakes
READY, SET, GO!: TO THE THOMPSON RIVER CHAIN OF LAKES
THIS SET OF 18 LAKES CAN BE FOUND ALONG MONTANA STATE HIGHWAY 2, SITTING BETWEEN KALISPELL AND LIBBY. THE SITE INCLUDES 83 PRIMITIVE CAMPSITES AND 8 GROUP CAMPSITES, ALL OF WHICH REQUIRE A FEE FOR OVERNIGHT CAMPING. ROADS ARE PRIMITIVE AND NOT RECOMMENDED FOR MOTOR HOMES AND LARGE TRAILERS. HOWEVER, THE 22 DEVELOPED CAMPSITES AT LOGAN STATE PARK, LOCATED ON MIDDLE THOMPSON LAKE, ARE SUITABLE FOR LARGE CAMPING UNITS
Time to celebrate with the May/June issue
We’ve got history. We’ve got horses. We’ve got places to play. We’ve got food. The May/June issue of Montana Magazine has a lot to celebrate and it’s ready to read now.
With all there is to read, a couple celebrations take center stage. First, writer Jesse Zentz takes us back in time to the Montana of 1864 – when the area was officially granted territory status 150 years ago. It was the Wild West no doubt. Also, writers Kristen Inbody and Erin Madison take us back in time and explain the conception of Montana State Parks. The system is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and we’re encouraging everyone to get out and explore the 54 parks spread across the state.
That’s just a sliver of the stories included in the May/June issue.