• The towers of the Judith Gap Wind Farm, six miles south of Judith Gap, stand motionless during a windless sunrise. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    J is for: The Gap, which is a lot more than wind turbines

    J – as names-of-Montana-cities goes – is for “The Gap.” Or, should we say, Judith Gap.

    Many know the small town for its huge wind turbine farm that captures the prairie winds that blow often. But as Missoulian reporter Vince Devlin and photographer Kurt Wilson found, there’s a lot more to The Gap (as local call it) then first meets the eye.

    Including the fact that it’s school has the smallest enrollment in Montana:

    judtih gap 3

    Taekwondo instructor Gary Hart walks from his home across the street to the school’s gymnasium where he holds free classes during the summer. The school is open several evenings a week for community activities. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    When the Class of 2015 at Judith Gap High School selected its commencement speaker, the vote was unanimous.

    Which is to say, Dakota Jolliff asked an uncle to deliver her graduation address.

    She was the only senior. Some years, there haven’t been any.

    The tiniest high school in all Montana is here in Judith Gap, a town located midway between the Little Belt and Big Snowy mountain ranges. The enrollment in grades 9-12 hovers around six, and as you’ll see, they go out of their way – way out of their way – to keep it that high.

    Those two mountain ranges funnel some of the state’s harshest winter weather out of the north and down upon Judith Gap’s citizenry. Six miles south of town, huge windmill blades stretch 40 stories into the sky above the Montana prairie to catch the wind and put it to good use.

    • See a gallery of images from Judith gap here
    A visiting tourist looks over the windmill blade attraction at "Blade Park" in Judith Gap. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    A visiting tourist looks over the windmill blade attraction at “Blade Park” in Judith Gap. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    Judith Gap Wind Farm, the largest wind farm in the state, converts the air currents into electricity capable of powering all 80-some homes in Judith Gap – and approximately 359,920 more – through 90 wind towers.

    “We’re almost a mile high, and the winters are pretty rough,” Mayor Dave Foster says. “It gets to be brutal when you get a storm.”

    And did you know, that the jail is unlocked in Judith Gap? 

    The story is part of an on-going series about Montana towns by the Missoulian. Here’s a link to the rest of the stories.

    Enjoy!

    Jenna 

  • Windy weather topples pine, crushes truck in Lincoln

    It’s been windy and wet around the entire state lately – gusts almost broke records in Billings and knocked over trains near Helena.

    The wind got the best of this huge pine the other day in Lincoln – that truck was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  This photo was taken right on Main Street by our friends Jaime and Lisa Johnson.

    Stay safe out there!

    Jenna