Big Sky Country Slideshow: It’s the most colorful time of the year
Fall in Montana, does it get any better?
Not really. In honor of that, here’s a little slideshow Thursday pick-me-up courtesy of our wonderful Facebook friends. They have been showing off the colors of Montana’s fall quite a bit lately and it’s awesome.
Thanks to all the photographers who let us share their work.
Whitefish becoming a high-tech homebase
Small town perks – in this case a bundle of great scenery and outdoor places to play – have turned Whitefish into a kind of high-tech hub.
Businesses owners are falling in love with the northwestern Montana town and moving their operations there. Many are in the high-tech sector, including Hammer Nutrition and The ZaneRay Group.
Jessica Lowry wrote the High-Tech Homebase story for our Sept/OCt issue and asked the business people what’s so alluring about doing business in Whitefish.
It’s 8:30 a.m. on a sunny Wednesday Montana summer morning as Henry Roberts, 40, grabs his 1971 Raleigh Competition bike for his morning commute. Clad in a green plaid shirt and blue Patagonia hat, Roberts glides by rows of quaint homes that line the streets of Whitefish.
The resort town, once known mostly for ski bums and a close proximity to Glacier National Park, is starting to turn heads for a new reason: a growing tech industry.
Roberts, who works as vice president of creative for The ZaneRay Group, answers to clients like Filson and Patagonia.
“Our foundation was about having a great real world job but living in Whitefish, Montana,” Roberts said.
He cites a short commute both to work and recreation, winter hockey league and fresh powder at Whitefish Mountain Resort among the amenities that made him fall in love with the tiny mountain town.
Like what you’re reading? Want more Montana Magazine? Subscribe today. It makes a great holiday gift…
Tiny Chester fosters big time creativity
Writer Carol Bradley emailed me earlier this year asking if we’d like to run a story on Chester, Montana.
“For its size and location,” Carol wrote, “it’s a surprisingly sophisticated little town, and not just because Grammy winner Philip Aaberg operates a bed and breakfast/recording studio there. They have a terrific little art museum and even an Ikebana club – Japanese flower arranging.”
It was an easy yes.
Fast forward about nine months when our Oct/Nov 2014 issue comes out featuring Carol’s story is our Ready, Set, Go! piece. We really do think you should get to Chester if you can.
Carol explains in the story:
At the east end of town, a sparkling new swimming pool beckoned. The local arts center offers a 7-foot-long Yamaha piano if anyone cares to practice in style, and should any of the Jamison kids decide to take dancing, Catalina Carlon teaches classes. Her students are no slouches: come December, a group from Chester and Havre will head to San Diego to perform at the Holiday Bowl and march in a parade.
Despite a population of just 850 or so and a setting that feels light years from city life – on U.S. Highway 2 along the Hi-Line, halfway between Havre and Shelby – Chester is a magnet for music and art.
It’s first and foremost an agricultural town; an imposing silver grain elevator anchors the north end of First Street, Chester’s commercial hub. And it’s isolating. The nearest airport of any size is 100 miles south, in Great Falls. There’s no gourmet grocery, and dining-out options are limited to Spud’s Café for breakfast and lunch, and the Grand Bar for dinner. (The Inverness Bar and Supper Club is another 15 miles east).
But the tradeoff for residents is a creative clarity that seems to emanate from the scarcity of choices coupled with the anything’s-possible embrace of the sweeping, sand-colored prairie.
That’s not it. We put the entire story about Chester online so you can learn a little more. And maybe plan a trip?
The Wilderness Act at 50: A lot of wild
Wilderness. It’s a big word with a lot of meaning in Montana.
However you define wilderness, the federal government created an official definition when it designated portions of land across the U.S. into official wilderness areas 50 years ago when the Wilderness Act was passed.
We celebrated the anniversary in several ways inside our Sept/Oct issue. Our Portfolio paid tribute to Sen. Lee Metcalf, who helped pass the act.
We also had a story, Call of the Wild by Jack Ballard, that showed how Montana businesses near wilderness areas benefit from the thousands of visitors that come to explore the areas each year.
In Montana, there’s a lot of wilderness to explore. Of the 2.5 million acres designated as wild in 1964, 30 percent were inside Montana. Today, there are close to 3.5 million acres of wilderness land inside 16 wilderness areas across Montana.
Here’s a challenge for you: Can you name all of Montana’s wilderness areas?
No? Here’s some help.
Montana Wilderness Facts
Montana landbase: 94,109,542 acres
Total Wilderness: 3,443,038 acres
Percent of land base: 3.7 percent
Total number of Wilderness areas: 15
Location: In the Custer and Gallatin National Forests between Billings and Yellowstone National Park.
Size: 920,343 acres
Location: In the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Bitterroot National Forests southwest of Butte.
Size: 158,615 acres
Bob Marshall Wilderness
Location: In the Flathead and Lewis and Clark National Forests west of Great Falls.
Cabinet Mountains Wilderness
Location: In the Kootenai National Forest, about 15 miles southwest of Libby.
Size: 94,272 acres
Gates of the Mountains Wilderness
Location: In the Helena National Forest.
Size: 28,562 acres
Great Bear Wilderness
Location: In the Flathead National Forest south of Glacier National Park.
Size: 286,700 acres
Lee Metcalf Wilderness
Location: In the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Gallatin National Forests southwest of Bozeman
Size: 254,288 acres
Medicine Lake Wilderness
Location: Between Sidney and Plentywood managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is within Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
Size: 11,366 acres
Mission Mountains Wilderness
Location: In the Flathead National Forest north of Missoula.
Size: 73,877 acres
Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness
Location: On the Flathead Reservation southeast of Polson.
Size: 89,500 acres
Location: in the Lolo National Forest located only four miles north of Missoula
Size: 32,976 acres
Red Rock Lakes Wilderness
Location: In the wide-open Centennial Valley and within the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
Size: 32,350 acres
Location: In the Helena, Lewis and Clark and Lolo National Forests southeast of Great Falls.
Size: 239,936 acres
Location: In the Bitterroot, Clearwater, Nezperce, and Lolo National Forests west of Hamilton
Size: 251,443 acres
UL Bend Wilderness
Location: Between Lewistown and Glasgow.
Size: 20,819 acres.
Welcome Creek Wilderness
Location: In the Lolo National Forest southwest of Missoula.
Size: 28,135 acres
-Courtesy of Montana Wilderness Association at wildmontana.org
Montana breweries take home gold at national competition
Montana made beer had a good weekend last week when five Montana breweries were awarded gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival.
Billings Gazette reporter Zach Benoit had the story about the winnings, which included a best small brewery award for Missoula’s Draught Works brewery.
Missoula’s Draught Works brought home the most hardware, earning very small brewery company and very small brewing company brewer of the year honors, as well as a gold medal in the American-style strong pale ale category for its Scepter Head IPA.
“We’re super proud of our whole team here and all the brewers we have,” said Jeff Grant, who owns the brewery with Paul Marshall.
We love telling you about the spirits and beer made in Big Sky Country. Here’s our story on the boom of homebrewing around the state, no doubt inspired by delicious beer made in breweries.
And, of course, there isn’t any shortage of good places around Montana to drink beer. Like the Montana Bar in Miles City.
In our March/April issue, we introduced you to cousins who are doing their part to make great Montana drinks. Cousing Ryan Montgomery and Evan Bowser opened Montgomery Distillery (Missoula) and Bowser Brewing (Great Falls) in honor of their grandfather.
In all, Montana has won 40 medals GABF medals, as Benoit found out.
The state’s first GABF medal came in 1987 when the Kessler Brewing Co. won a silver in the bocks/doppelbocks category for its Kessler Bock.
Since then, Montana breweries have won a total of 40 medals at the competition, with the Montana Brewing Co. leading the way with 15.
According to the competition website, there were 39 craft breweries in Montana in 2013, giving it 5.3 breweries for every 100,000 adults of legal drinking age, or the third highest per capita in the nation.
Meet Yellowstone’s ‘fatalistic’ butterfly
Yellowstone National Park is awesome for a lot of reasons.
One that you might not have heard about: Butterflies.
Along with bison and wolves, Yellowstone is home to 134 known species of the beautiful bug. George Bumann is the park’s unofficial butterfly expert who leads visitors on butterfly counts yearly and educational outings to help more people learn about the bounty of butteflies in Yellowstone.
We featured Bumman in our Sept/Oct 2014 issue.
“In Yellowstone, people get attached to those mega animals: the elk, bears and wolves,” Bumann said. “But what’s really amazing about this place is the tie between geology, plants and animals as they relate to each other; it’s a very tight-knit system.”
All the butterflies are important to the park. But what is Bumman’s favorite Yellowstone butterfly?
It’s Hayden’s ringlet. A butterfly with a “fatalistic” flying pattern and “eyes” on its wings. Why is it Bumann’s favorite? Click here to find out.
Stevensville’s Founders Day celebrates Montana’s beginnings
The St. Mary’s Missions is the place where Montana began. That notable marker was celebrated fully last weekend in Stevensville.
Here’s the full story from Dillon:
A special event at St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville celebrated the history of the place where Montana began.
The Founders Day celebration, which includes reenactments of the historic start to the town, has been an annual event at the end of September in Stevensville since 2009.
Colleen Meyer, executive director of the nonprofit Historic St. Mary’s Mission, said the mission’s roots started with Iroquois tribal members, who had come to the region with the Hudson’s Bay Company, integrating and intermarrying with the Salish people in the area.
“They also brought and spread the ideas and traditions of Christianity with the local tribe, which were similar to many of the local Native Americans own traditions, like having one wife and the burying of the dead,” she said.
The Salish were intrigued and wanted the Jesuit priests, who they called the blackrobes after the garb they wore, to come and teach them in person. Meyer said four trips were made to St. Louis before missionaries were brought back to the area, led by Pierre DeSmet, who founded the mission on Sept. 24, 1841, marking the first permanent settlement in what would eventually become Montana. DeSmet was represented in the reenactment by Mark Brown.
“All of us involved have struggled and suffered and some of your tribesmen have died to make this happen,” he said.
The village that was built around the mission area was called St. Mary’s, before later becoming known as Fort Owen and then Stevensville. Meyer said the current chapel that sits at the mission is actually the fourth one built, with construction starting in 1866.
Dale Burk wrote the reenactment and acted as the narrator. He said the Founders Day celebration was commemorating four important events in Montana history. The first was the 173rd anniversary of the St. Mary’s Mission and the founding of the community that would become Stevensville. The second was the sale of the mission grounds and buildings to John Owen on Nov. 5, 1850.
This year is also the 150th anniversary of the start of the Montana Territory, and the time when the town of Stevensville was platted.
“Like most achievements of mankind, it came to be because somebody wanted it to happen and other people helped to make it happen,” Burk said.
For the reenactment, the role of Owen was played by Mike Yalon. He said this is his third year taking part in the event, and that he did his own research on Owen leading up to playing the role, including using some of Owen’s own writing.
“The mission actually has John Owen’s journals I was able to read through,” he said.
One of the day’s reenactments included Owen’s purchase of the missionary land and buildings. Nine years after founding the mission, the blackrobe missionaries were forced to leave because of trouble with the Salish’s rival Blackfoot tribe. Owen, a former Army sutler, bought the land for $250, the first written bill of sale in the region.
“He was highly respected by the Native Americans, and became the de facto Indian agent for the region,” Yalon said.
Although he was never in the military, Owen adopted the title of major when he opened a trading post named after himself on the former mission’s property. The missionaries would return and reopen St. Mary’s 16 years later.
Rev. Michael Drury, who played Father Anthony Ravalli in the reenactment on Sunday, played the role of overseeing the sale to Owen. Drury also carved the cross used in the reenactment of the founding of the mission.
The character of Salish Chief Victor, who had been a friend of both Ravalli and Owen, said he hoped that everyone would one day soon be able to return to the region. He was played by Victor Charlo, a descendent of both Chief Victor and Chief Charlo.
As part of the reenactment, Yalon, as Owen, thanked the two missionaries for the work they had done “that brought civilization to an otherwise wild land.”
The Yellowstone supervolcano’s seismic threat
The supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park was in the news quite a bit last spring. New findings coupled with a string of small earthquakes fueled some wild rumors of its impending explosion.
But what really is the risk?
Writer Jack Ballard explored that question in our feature in the Sept/Oct issue. Scientists inside the park of been studying the volcano for decades. And, as Jack found out, better technology means better knowledge about the beast.
They say it’s unlikely the volcano will erupt anytime. More likely: Earthquakes.
In a 2009 paper in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, Smith and a team researchers concluded that the Yellowstone-Teton region represents the area of greatest seismic hazard in the western United States. The project also analyzed earthquake risk in relation to the various fault lines radiating from the caldera of Yellowstone’s most recent, albeit very ancient, super-volcano. Of those, the team concluded major quake activity was most likely to occur on the Teton Fault which extends from the southern boundary of Yellowstone National Park into the Jackson Hole Valley in Wyoming.
The USGS has a ton of information about the likelihood of any major disaster caused by the supervolcano. The Q&A is particularly interesting.
Like Jack found out from the scientists who know the supervolcano best, it’s likely that the more you know, the less you’ll have to fear.