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.
John Bozeman’s unhappy ending
For our final 150th Montana Territory anniversary post here’s a little bit about John Bozeman . Yep. That Bozeman. Along he had a town named after him, turns out, he wasn’t in Montana too long:
From Jesse Zentz:
John Bozeman only lasted in Montana for five years, but this “character” played an important role in Montana’s early territorial days. He arrived in Montana in 1862 and died in 1867. It remains unclear whether he was killed by Blackfeet Indians or partner Tom Cover. Before his death, he helped plan the Bozeman Trail – a route from the Oregon Trail to Bannack – and he founded the city named after him in August of 1864.
“He’s a son of Georgia. He’s clearly in flight from an unhappy marriage and an unhappy life down south. He’s in flight from the Civil War. He seems to be very good at promoting himself and he’s very good at finding schemes to pursue. In the end, he does not have a happy ending. He ends up getting shot in 1867 and one can only guess what happened there, but he may have been partly responsible. I’ll leave it at that,” said Ken Egan, executive director of Humanities Montana.
Just because we’re done celebrating, doesn’t mean there’s not more to see. First, check out this 365-day historical facts project from the Missoulian. Also, if you want to take part in an “official” celebration, the 41st Annual Montana History Conference, presented by the Montana Historical Society, will take place Sept. 18-20 in Helena and focus on Montana Milestones as in commemorates 150 years of Montana arriving on the map. For more information, visit www.mhs.mt.gov/education/ConferencesWorkshops.asp.
Montana history buffs, this list is for you
We’ve only started scratching the surface this week during our celebration of Montana’s history in the 150 years since it became a territory.
There’s plenty more to learn. Once again, writer Jesse Zentz (have you checked out his story in our May/June issue yet?) has an awesome list of sources where you can find out more about Montana.
It begins with the wonderful Montana Historical Society:
Montana Historical Society
Founded only a year after Montana became a territory, the Montana Historical Society is an unrivaled historical resource. Located in Helena, the Montana Historical Society Museum is home to an incredible collection of fine art and historical artifacts. You can visit the museum throughout the year. Learn more online at www.MontanaHistoricalSociety.org.
At www.HumantiesMontana.com, you can find information about events happening throughout the state, learn about a variety of grants and resources available, and much more.
Your local library
Montana’s libraries are full of amazing collections about Montana history, and thanks to a great online resource at www.MyMontanaLibrary.com, finding your local library is only a couple mouse clicks away. Most of the books mentioned above are available, along with many others.
Take a road trip or a walk around town
Located throughout Montana along some of the busiest highways and the lonely ones, too, the Montana Department of Transportation’s roadside signs offer some great historical tidbits about geological happenings in the state’s history. You can visit http://www.mdt.mt.gov/travinfo/geomarkers.shtml to find the signs.
Pictured in History: Montana of the early years
We love featuring historic photos of the faces and places of Montana inside the pages of the print editions. Most come for our readers, who share sentimental and rare images of their families and friends that have been passed down through generations. They’re special pieces of the state’s history.
We’ve compiled a few of the “Pictured in History” shots here to help continue to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Montana Territory. Many of the photos here are taken in the 1930s to the 1940s.
As we found when researching the story of the 150th anniversary of the Montana Territory, there weren’t many cameras or photographers present in the west during the 1860s. Portraits were much more common than candid shots or scenic shots. With the help of the Montana Historical Society we were able to run some shots of early territory towns, such as Virginia City.
Inside our May/June issue, we also have a portrait of Calamity Jane.
Turns out that Calamity Jane may have had a long history in Montana. This is from writer Jesse Zentz:
Known mostly for her time spent with Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood, S.D., Egan said he found newspaper evidence in the Montana Post placing Calamity Jane – then Martha Jane Cannary – in Virginia City in December 1864. He said an article in the December 31, 1864, issue of the Montana Post indicates she was only 8 years old and begging on the streets of Virginia City.
‘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.