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  • Montana's Pryor Mountains Offer Diverse Landscapes

    Rick and Susie Graetz, University of Montana Dept. of Geography|Updated May 10, 2024

    Red desert, ice caves and wild horses are symbols of a most unique piece of Montana's mountain country – the island-like Pryor Mountains of south-central Montana. From the Yellowstone River Valley and the big-little town of Billings, these Pryors appear as hills when compared to the towering Beartooths 30 miles to the west. Looks are deceiving, though. Flying just beyond their flanks, especially along the east face, reveals a steep, rugged and high landscape. Named after N...

  • The origins of 20 political words and terms

    Stacker, Colleen Kilday|Updated May 8, 2024

    "Gerrymander," "blue states," and "red tape." These words populate headlines and newspaper articles regularly, with many writers taking their meaning for granted, but a look through history can reveal surprising changes in meaning over time. In a political landscape challenged by personal interpretation, etymology can be a reliable narrator. Tracing a word's emergence and exploring the circumstances behind any changes in meaning offers a window into the surrounding historical...

  • 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...

  • Powering the Mountain States: A snapshot of the region's energy portfolio

    Sam Cardwell, Mountain States Policy Center|Updated Apr 23, 2024

    Our region is at a critical time in its energy landscapes, navigating a complex network of resources, policies, and environmental concerns. This latest winter was a great case study for the reliability problem of intermittent green sources that are being pushed nationwide. In Montana, Northwestern Energy spokesperson Jo Dee Black commented in January, "Wind and solar generation could not produce much if any, power during the extreme cold." In Washington, Grant County PUD...

  • Easter Eggstravaganza

    Roger Dey, BVD|Updated Apr 9, 2024

    Hooper Park once again found itself awash in brightly colored plastic eggs on Easter Sunday as Lincoln Volunteer Fire Rescue once again hosted their annual Easter Egg Hunt March 31. For about an hour, kids ranging in age from Pre-K through sixth grade scoured areas designated by their grade level. For the youngest kids it was a scramble to gather eggs scattered around the main oval at the park, while kids from second grade oan up scattered hither and thither as they searched...

  • A Steller sight

    Roger Dey, BVD|Updated Apr 8, 2024

    A pair of Steller's Jays spent time hunting insects ion the bark of Ponderosa pines East of Hooper park on Easter Sunday, March 31. Steller's Jays are common in the forests of the western US, including Montana. Unlike the mountain bluebird, which spends its time in open fields, the jays can be a bit harder to spot as as their dark blue and black coloring allow them to blend into the shadows of the trees in which they roost. Although they often referred to as blue jays,...

  • Counties with the worst droughts in Montana

    Stacker|Updated Apr 7, 2024

    More than one-fifth of the continental U.S. is currently experiencing moderate to exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Winter storms brought heavy (in some areas, record-setting) rainfall and flooding to California, offering the state an expected two-year reprieve from widespread droughts, that covered nearly 100% of the state from 2020-22. But in other parts of the country, especially dry conditions continue. New Mexico currently is the state with the...

  • Events Reveal Crown of the Continent Timeline

    Rick and Susie Graetz, University of Montana Dept. of Geography|Updated Apr 1, 2024

    It took more than 60 years to create Glacier National Park, which is the foundation of the much larger natural system called the Crown of the Continent that we study and celebrate today. The events that led to the formation of the park and the surrounding ecosystem are regarded today as the bedrock of the conservation movement in America. What follows then is a timeline as we see it: 1849 – George Bird Grinnell born in Brooklyn, N.Y. – Sept. 20, 1849 George Bird Grinnell was...

  • States sending the most people to Montana

    Stacker|Updated Mar 15, 2024

    Fewer Americans moved in 2022, according to the latest census data, but of those who did, 1 in 5 moved to a different state. Population growth has returned to pre-pandemic norms; Southern states continued to record influxes in population, while the Northeast saw the biggest drops, particularly in New York and Pennsylvania. These trends largely continued into last year, according to United Van Lines' annual movers study. States with the most inbound moves in 2023 were Vermont,...

  • 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,...

  • Small farms in the mountain states are disappearing

    Madilynne Clark, Mountain States Policy Center|Updated Mar 5, 2024

    Farm numbers across the United States are dwindling and the mountain states are no exception. Our country lost 7 percent of farms from 2017 to 2022, and all of the mountain states were above the national average. As a farmer in the region, I understand the stress of this profession, and if our country continues on its current trajectory our region's agricultural future looks bleak – more consolidation and less food security. From 2017 to 2022, Idaho, Montana, Washington, a...

  • 50 songs you won't believe are turning 50 this year

    Stacker, Kaiya Shunyata|Updated Mar 5, 2024

    The 1970s was a tumultuous time, full of upheaval on many fronts, from the end of the Vietnam War to the dawn of personal computers. It makes sense that its music had a similar helter-skelter feel. The early '70s were a musical melting pot where rock, reggae, funk, and pop could coexist. Ingenuity was essential, and as artists were wary of the mainstream music industry, they began doing things unconventionally and bolder than ever. Punk and funk rose to popularity after the...

  • The history of daylight saving time-and why some are advocating for its end

    Stacker, Eliza Siegel|Updated Mar 5, 2024

    When asked about the origins of daylight saving time, you may imagine farmers in the distant past getting an extra hour of sun to tend to animals and crops. If you do, you're not alone. The myth that farmers are at the root of daylight saving time has proliferated a common understanding of the practice for a long time. But if the agriculture industry didn't advocate for the start of daylight saving time—and evidence suggests that farmers were, in fact, opposed to its i...

  • UM Geologist Describes Where Gold Comes From

    Rick and Susie Graetz, UM Dept. of Geography|Updated Feb 26, 2024

    David Alt, author and a retired professor of geology at the University of Montana, explains why gold was found in Grasshopper Creek and the surrounding gulches. "At Bannack, as in many gold mining districts, much of the production came fast and early from bonanza deposits in stream placers. Early miners working the gravels in the streambed skimmed the cream off the district, leaving the hardest work and leanest pickings for those who came later. That happens because streams...

  • 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...

  • The Blackfeet Nation Has Long, Epic History

    Rick and Susie Graetz, U of M Dept. of Geography|Updated Feb 13, 2024

    At one time, they were feared Plains warriors. Historians believe the Blackfeet, forced out of their ancestral grounds in today's upper Great Lakes region by white advancement, were one of the first Native American tribes to head West. Though there are several stories on how they received their name, the most plausible is that their moccasins were blackened from the long journey across the prairie to reach what would become Montana. The Blackfeet band now living on the Blackfe...

  • Feb. 12: Lincoln's Birthday

    Library of Congress, Library of Congress|Updated Feb 13, 2024

    Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States, was born in a single-room log cabin on Sinking Spring Farm in LaRue County, Kentucky on February 12, 1809. He was the son of Thomas Lincoln, an illiterate pioneer farmer, and Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who died when Abraham was nine years old. It was Thomas Lincoln's second wife, Sarah Bush Johnston who, while illiterate herself, recognized Abraham's "uncommon natural talents" and encouraged his famous bookishness....

  • Yellowstone and Hellcat: a discussion of two Montana names

    Rick and Susie Graetz, University of Montana|Updated Feb 5, 2024

    Call it 670 miles or perhaps more precisely 674 miles, but either way, the Yellowstone River remains the nation's longest undammed waterway. It's a great river that gathers some of the finest mountain and prairie topography on the planet as it passes peaks reaching 12,000 feet in elevation, the largest high-mountain lake on the continent, dense evergreen forests, buttes, colorful badlands, deep canyons and sweet-smelling sage and juniper covered hills. A good portion of this...

  • That Time Montana Hit 70 Below ... And Maybe Colder

    Rick and Susie Graetz, University of Montana|Updated Jan 20, 2024

    Snow had been falling almost continuously for a week, and it was very cold. The temperature had only risen to minus 18 degrees. Finally, late in the day, the snow and wind stopped, skies cleared rapidly, and as the sun set the temperature plummeted. Early the next morning, on Jan. 20, 1954, the Montana and continental 48 states' record cold temperature of minus 70 degrees was observed at a mining camp near the Continental Divide a short distance from Rogers Pass near Helena....

  • This is Montana: Before YouTube

    Henriette Lowisch, Graduate Program Director - UM School of Journalism|Updated Jan 9, 2024

    Sometimes we need to be reminded of the fact that not everything is on YouTube. Rummaging through the shelves of the University of Montana's Mansfield Library to find materials for a book I'm writing, I recently came across a stack of five DVDs. The makeshift case covers, titled "Montana," lacked visual appeal, except for a pink warning sticker that indicated, "This DVD-R may not play on all machines." Intrigued, I hauled them home and inserted the first disc into my laptop. B...

  • Restoration of grave fences continues at Lincoln Gulch Cemetery

    Roger Dey, BVD|Updated Dec 11, 2023

    The grave of Minnie Neal, who died and was buried in 1869 in the old Lincoln Gulch Cemetery has a newly reconstructed fence back in place around her grave. Her grave was one of three from the pioneer mining era that had picket fences around them, and the only one of them identified by a headstone. Lewis and Clark County Heritage Preservation Officer Pam Attardo, joined by Mary Webb and Emory Padgett with Preserve Montana worked to rebuild the fences during a visit Oct. 16 and...

  • The Mystery of Minnie

    Roger Dey, BVD|Updated Nov 29, 2023

    As the only one of the three fenced graves with a name on it, Minnie Neal's final resting place has stood out from the others. With hand-cut diamond-shaped pickets and diamond-shaped finials on the corner posts, it was one of the two most ornate graves in the pioneer section of historic Lincoln Gulch Cemetery. Over the years, a local legend about the grave said that Minnie was a dance hall girl whose perfume could still be smelled at the cemetery on certain nights. Others...

  • Lodgepole Pine: Wildfires Create Signature Montana Forests

    Peter Kolb, UM College of Forestry and Conservation|Updated Nov 29, 2023

    Life gets busy for everyone. We all dream about getting away from it all for an hour, a day or perhaps even a week. My favorite is to go for a hike through one of Montana's lodgepole pine-covered mountainsides and stretch out under the trees on a bed of pinegrass and dwarf huckleberry, also known as grouse whortleberry, and listening to the wind gently whisper its secrets through the tree crowns and needles. The lodgepole pine forests that cover several million acres of Montan...

  • Montana Followed Meandering Path Toward Statehood (Part 2 OF 2)

    Updated Nov 15, 2023

    Arriving in Washington, D.C., Judge Sidney Edgerton consulted with President Lincoln and found him agreeable to the idea of a new territory in the Rockies. More important, Edgerton discovered that his friend and fellow Ohioan, Congressman James M. Ashley, had already begun work on a bill to form the new territory. Ashley, who chaired the House Committee on Territories, had the power to make his wishes felt. His political muscle and reports of the area's wealth of gold, which...

  • What do Montana's independent ranchers need to survive? Customers.

    Susan Shain, High Country News|Updated Nov 6, 2023

    This story was originally published Oct. 31, 2023 at High Country News. In a squat 1,100-square-foot building on the outskirts of Helena lies a pile of enormous tongues. They are thick and leaden, stacked on a steel table like fish out of water. The bovines from which they came hulk nearby, cold carcasses hanging from cold hooks. Bearded men, their white coats covered in blood, rhythmically chop livers, punctuating the hum of industrial refrigeration. This small...

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