New Deal murals still hang in six Montana post offices
Lots of cool things came to Montana thanks to the New Deal back in the 1930s. The Civilian Conservation Corps helped build some of the most important infrastructure of Montana’s state parks and plenty other structures that helped shape the state.
And six artists were commissioned by a special New Deal program to paint murals inside Montana post offices in Billings, Deer Lodge, Dillon, Glasgow and Hamilton. The works of art are still hanging today and in most cases the artists who painted them went on to have storied painting careers that captured special moments of Montana history.
We ran a cool story about the murals in the March/April issue of Montana Mag.
Below is a location list of the six murals. If you’ve got business in one of the six posts offices listed below or are hitting the road and passing through one of these towns, don’t forget to take a few minutes to stop and appreciate the art.
Here’s where to find Montana’s six New Deal post office murals are spread across the state
- “Trailing Cattle” by Leo James Beaulaurier, Billings Downtown Post Office Station, 2602 1st Ave.
- “James and Granville Stuart Prospecting in Deer Lodge Valley – 1858,” by Verona Burkhard, Deer Lodge Post Office, 510 Main St.
- “News from the States” by Elizabeth Lochrie, Dillon Post Office, 117 South Idaho St.
- “Montana’s Progress” by Forest Hill, Glasgow Post Office, 605 2nd Ave. South
- “Flat Head War Party” by Henry Meloy, Hamilton Post Office, 150 North 4th St.
- “General Sully at Yellowstone” by J.K. Ralston, Sidney, Donald G. Nutter Building, 123 West Main St.
Montana slang: Montana photographer puts together an impressive list
Photographer Todd Klassy is known for the great images he takes across the state.
Turns out he’s a bit of a scribe, too. Klassy posted a great list of “Montana slang” terms on his website recently. It’s a pretty funny list that anyone who’s spent time in the Big Sky State will appreciate.
“Montucky” made the list. As did “Moose Drool.”
The first slang term (listed in alphabetical order) is “A bit nippy out: 20 degrees below zero or colder.”
I’ve definitely heard that one before. But there were a lot of terms (“can openers: spurs” or “Chesterfield: a sofa”) that I hadn’t heard before.
Whatever your fluency with Montana slang, it’s a fun list.
‘Montana is Calling’ a beautiful poem about missing Montana
Of all the emails, letters and phone calls we get about Montana Magazine each day, some always stand out. They’re the notes about the allure of Montana and the want of so many to come here, live here one day, or for the natives who’ve moved away, to come back one day.
These notes are always great to read, and many are beautiful and poetic too.
So we thought we’d start sharing some these notes, poems and stories in a section on MontanaMagazine.com called “Love Letters to Montana” (it’s under the More of Montana tab on the home page.)
We’ve put several love letters up and will add more soon.
One of my favorites came from Janet Fulkerson, who found writings by her mother Imogene Z. Hansen after Imogene passed away in 2013.
Imogene lived and raised a family in Helena before poor health forced her to move to Indiana to live with Janet. The photo with this post is of Imogene and her husband Bruce Hansen, and Janet’s sister, Susan Marie.
Her poem, “Montana is Calling,” was written in 2012. The full poem is here and a snipped is listed below. It’s worth a read.
Montana Is Calling
By Imogene Hansen
September 17, 2012
My heart’s in Montana; my heart is not here.
It’s in Big Sky Country so high, wide, and clear.
From the mountains and prairies that I loved to roam
Montana is calling, and I want to go home.
I miss Montana which is far, far from here
where the earth is too flat and the sky seldom clear.
Wild Horse Stampede: The secret’s in the pickle juice
Not only does the Wild Horse Stampede in Wolf Point boast the best rodeo, parades and wild horse races in the West – you can also find what is arguably the best burger in the state during the event that takes place there each July.
You might have to wait awhile to get a “Catholic burger,” but as writer Richard Peterson told us in the March/April 2014 issue, it’s worth the wait.
Along with his feature about the storied history of the Wild Horse Stampede, Peterson let us know where you can find a Catholic burger. And photographer Lynn Donaldson found out from one of the cooks that the “divine” taste of the burgers comes from the pickle juice that is splashed on the fried onions that top the burger.
It’s tradition for Stampede-goers to munch on a “Catholic burger,” an iconic food people are willing to wait for. Some wait for as long as 45 minutes in 90-degree plus temperatures to get a taste, Peterson wrote.
An annual fundraiser for the Immaculate Conception Catholic Parish in Wolf Point, the burger stand – open 24 hours during the Stampede – will go through a ton of hamburger and hundreds of pounds of onions in four days, parish member co-organizer Kerry Hanks said.
“That smell of fried onions and burger drifts down the block, and sometimes the line of people will, too,” she said. “That’s a big part of our success.”
Not quite as old as the Stampede, the Catholic burger stand has been in operation for 66 years. It started as a small concession stand on one of Wolf Point’s side streets, but its popularity forced it to set up on an empty lot on Main Street during Stampede.
This year, you can get a Catholic burger for yourself July 10-13 during the Stampede.
Montana springtime slideshow: Clouds and baby animals
April is here. As most of Montana continues to shake off the winter, it seems like the right time for a springtime slideshow.
And thanks to our great Facebook friends, we’ve put together a pretty nice set of images to share.
In some ways, we could call this the Mark LaRowe show. Mark shared a handful of amazing shots, including the calf, the Ninepipes weather and the baby bighorn images included here.
Also have to give a big thank you to Catherine Dotson (McMillian Ridge), Ken Stolz (Freezeout Lake), Travis Scott (rainbow) and Yvonne Moe Resch (McGregor Lake) for sharing images with us.
Our readers easily the best. Enjoy!
Top four things to see and do at Makoshika State Park
We shared a spread of photos by Jason Savage featuring Makoshika State Park in the March/April issue Portfolio that was pretty incredible. I hope you had a chance to check it out.
And now, I hope it inspires you to go take a look at the park in person.
Makoshika’s 11,538 acres – located just outside Glendive – are filled with giant formations of light colored capstone that reach toward the expansive eastern Montana skies like elegant pedestals.
I talked with Makoshika Park Ranger Tom Shoush for some insider tips about what visitors should do and see once they reach the park. Here’s a Top Four list based on Tom’s recommendations:
- Drive the 10-mile road through the park.
“If the road system is open, I always tell people to drive to the top. That’s where the views are,” Shoush said.
- Watch out for dinosaur bones.
The bones of 10-12 species of dinosaurs have been found inside Makoshika. Most of the finds, Shoush said, are large herbivores that lived near end of the age of dinosaurs. The most significant is an entire Thescelosaur, a “very rare” and “tremendous find” Shoush said.
- Stop at the visitor center.
It’s home to dinosaur bones and rare artifacts left behind by ancient peoples. “A human presence in the area dated back to 10,000 to 12,000 years ago,” Shoush said.
- Stop by during the “spring green up.”
Shoush recommends visiting from Makoshika in mid-May through mid-June.
“I tell people somewhere around June 1 you have the best chance of seeing the flowers in bloom and the migratory birds have returned,” he said.
Meet the people who make Montana Magazine
Each issue of Montana Magazine includes about 12 features, from our Portfolio photography spread to a handful of features from around the state. In all it’s about 15,000 words and dozens of photos. That you probably know.
We also want our readers to know a little bit more about the talented group of people who bring write the words and make the images that fills each issue. They really are a great group – from retired journalists to full-time photographers who make a living making images from across Montana to historians to the deputy director of the department of commerce.
One, Jeremy Lurgio, (who made the images for the story in the March/April issue about Missoula bowyer Jim Rempp) is a adjunct professor of photojournalism at the University of Montana who has taken countless photos across the state while working as a professional photographer.
Many do work for the magazine for the same reason readers read it: They love Montana.
To help give readers a better idea of who our contributors are we began including a contributors pages in each issue. We have a contributors page online at MontanaMagazine.com . It’s a compilation of all the writers and photographers who have contributed their work to Montana Magazine in 2014. We’ll add more as the year goes on.
Check it out. Chances are you know one or two of the contributors, this is Montana, right?
Stained-glass, sun create symphony of light and color inside Cathedral of St. Helena
Even from a distance, it’s easy to recognize the beauty of the Cathedral of St. Helena.
Finished a century ago to stand in Montana’s capitol city of Helena, the Cathedral is a gorgeous building made of Indian limestone. But as writer and photographer Gordon Sullivan told us in the March/April issue, when you step inside the cathedral you’ll be greeted by an incredibly stunning setting thanks to the building’s stained-glass windows.
As the sun moves through the sky, the colorful glass creates a symphony of light and color. It’s a show Sullivan says upstages all the other wonderful elements of beauty inside the cathedral.
It’s no easy task to capture that show with a camera. Sullivan spent hours inside the cathedral to make the images he included in his photo essay in Montana Magazine.
“…for me, as a professional photographer,” Sullivan wrote, “the most outstanding feature revolves around stained-glass light and the sublime tone it casts on marble, polished brass and carved oak. It is the technical challenge this type of light presents and the pleasure of seeing each image suddenly duplicated electronically for others to see.”
What else does Sullivan love about the stained-glass inside the cathedral? He answered some questions for Montana Magazine about his work there.
Do you have a favorite portion of stained glass inside the cathedral?
I guess I have two favorite portions of stained glass inside the cathedral. The first is located on the southeast corner. Here low angle, morning light is particularly interesting. The stained-glass panels featured in this section, from both the higher and lower levels, spread illumination across the interior in colorful bands. It lights up the east facing side of marble pillars and walls and sweeps nicely across the oak pews.
Another of my favorites is the stained-glass panel behind the grated back-alter and crucifix. Here a mixture of brass and stained-glass is vibrant and provides a sense of texture, depth and physical dimension. This panel however is best photographed in low light, allowing just enough illumination of accent color without getting bright enough to wash out detail. Both areas require long exposures, tight metering and a tripod.
What is the best time of day for readers who visit the cathedral to see the splendor of the stained-glass?
The best time of day to visit and witness the splendor of stained-glass light is when the sun’s outside angle is at its greatest, which means early to mid-morning or late afternoon. Morning light enters from the east and in afternoon it comes from the west. The sharper the angle, the better the reflections inside the church and the more possible it will be for the illumination to be contrasted by interior shadows. Best time of year is autumn or early winter.
Another very special “mind blowing” time to visit is the last hour before sunset when the exterior light is low, warm and angled. It is almost unbelievable what goes on inside the cathedral during a vivid sunset. The effect is quick but very impressive.
Tell us about the time it takes to get shots like you did.
Once I set my sights on photographing the stained glass light, I first needed to study the patterns and determine what time of day or year would best demonstrate the effect I was after. This took some time and several dry runs and more or less pointed to times when the outside light was at its greatest angle to the windows. Mid-morning and late afternoon seemed to be prime – especially for the visible bands of light falling on inside attractions like marble pillars, oak pews and high contrast walls.
Working inside the Cathedral of St. Helena requires both patience and planning, simply because a few special shots appear only during certain times during the day and in some cases vanish at a moment’s notice. Some of the shots were planned very carefully while others seemed to appear out of nowhere.