The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

Articles written by Rick Graetz

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  • Montana leads with bear spray protection

    Rick Graetz, Geography Department University of Montana|Updated Apr 23, 2024

    This piece was penned several years ago for Big Sky's Lone Peak Lookout newspaper owing to the increase in bear and people encounters in the Madison and Gallatin ranges. What the article discusses is pertinent to any wild country in the state, so we bring it back as a reminder. Be it biking, horseback riding or hiking, as more and more folks head out to enjoy the trails of the wilderness and national park lands near Big Sky, bear and human meetings are bound to increase. The...

  • The Promise of the Equinox: A Personal Account

    Rick Graetz, University of Montana Department of Geography|Updated Mar 15, 2024

    On about Dec. 21, the occasion of the winter solstice, the sun takes a brief respite on the tropic of Capricorn at 23 1/2 degrees south latitude. Then it begins its six-month odyssey north for a rendezvous with the tropic of Cancer at 23 1/2 degrees north latitude. Along the way, at a precise second in March, its rays are directly overhead on the equator, declaring the Spring Equinox. This year that instant occurs at 10:57 a.m. Montana time on Thursday, March 20. In Montana,...

  • Anaconda - A Montana Gem

    Mark Spero and Rick Graetz, University of Montana|Updated Feb 21, 2024

    "In 1880, Nate Leavengood's meadow, where Anaconda now stands, was a lush and quiet place. As far as the eye could see in all directions there was nothing but the valley, the swelling foothills and mountain ramparts...four years later, the meadow was gone...there had been no gradual encroachment of civilization, no creeping in of small farms and little stores. There was no village. First there was nothing, and then all of a sudden there was the world's largest smelter and...

  • Avon – Heart of the Little Blackfoot Valley

    Kilynn Groen with Rick Graetz, University of Montana|Updated Oct 18, 2023

    Fifteen miles up the Little Blackfoot River from Garrison Jct. and straddling US Hwy 12 sits Avon. A picturesque place, the Little Blackfoot River skirts the south perimeter of town, Nevada Creek Valley runs its course on the north, the Garnet Range begins its rise on the northeast and the Crown of the Continent's southwest corner is just a few miles to the northeast. About 115 folks in town and 200 in the surrounding area call Avon home. "Gold, Gold, Gold!" are the words...

  • Helmville – A Montana Original

    Mark Spero with Rick Graetz, This is Montana Community Vitality Program|Updated Feb 14, 2023

    Ever since Europeans began settling Montana, agriculture has been the economy's life blood and number one industry. Mining for precious metals jumped started it but farming and ranching were sustainable. And although factory farms are cropping up, and companies have replaced many family ranches, there are still many communities where local ranches and farms are alive and well. One of those enclaves is Helmville, Montana, population 30 people in town and about 300 in the...

  • Ovando: More Scenery Per Capita

    Mark Spero and Rick Graetz, University of Montana|Updated Nov 14, 2022

    Long on scenery and short on population the middle Blackfoot River Valley is the epitome of rural Montana. Mountains of the fabled Bob Marshall Country form its northern horizon and forested uplifts of the Garnet Range guard the southern perimeter. And a river runs through it. Since Montana earliest years when homesteaders made their way here, the valley has remained a ranching domain. And like many old Montana towns, Ovando, its human enclave has weathered countless storms...