According to the Incident Information System, “Thursday afternoon at approximately 6:00 pm, the main building at the Sperry Chalet was lost to the Sprague Fire. A highly skilled group of firefighters were staged at the Sperry Chalet over the last week.Those firefighters had an extensive hose lay, sprinkler, and pump system installed to protect all of the structures associated with the Chalet.The high winds experienced this afternoon pushed the fire to the east.The firefighters, supported by 3 helicopters, made a valiant stand to save the structure but were unsuccessful in saving the main Sperry Chalet.The firefighters remain on site, ARE SAFE, and are currently actively engaged in protecting the remaining structures.”
The other structures are a dining room/kitchen, maintenance, and restroom building.
Nearby Lake McDonald Lodge was closed for the remainder of the season August 29 due to air quality concerns.
One of two back-country chalets built by the Great Northern Railway (now BNSF), Sperry opened in 1914. It featured 17 private rooms. Unlike Granite Park Chalet, Sperry provided linens and meals. The rooms had no heat, water, or electricity. Guests were advised to bring flashlights since candles were not permitted.
The chalet was listed on the National Register in 1977.
InciWeb Update: September 3: “Based on recommendations from the Sprague Fire Incident Management Team, Glacier National Park has issued an Evacuation Order effective September 3, 2017 at 10 am for all residents and visitors from the south end of Lake McDonald to Logan Pass. This includes the Lake McDonald Lodge, concession housing, Kelly Camp Area, and the Avalanche and Sprague Creek Campgrounds. Logan Pass is still accessible from the east side of the park. The duration of the evacuation is unknown at this time.”
WEST GLACIER, MT. – This summer, Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest are expanding visitor use monitoring efforts to better understand use along the Middle Fork and North Fork of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River.
For the past five years, Glacier National Park has been collecting data on trail, and road use along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and surrounding trails. This year, with a donation from the Glacier National Park Conservancy, monitoring will expand to the river and several other places within the park. The Flathead National Forest and Glacier National Park both manage segments of the North Fork and Middle Fork of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River. The other locations to be monitored include the North Fork, Two Medicine, Many Glacier, Goat Haunt, and Belly River.
The data, collected by the University of Montana, has been valuable to Glacier National Park as visitation has increased dramatically. With several years of data in hand, the park can now better inform visitors about how to plan their trips with crowding in mind, and also make educated decisions about where to station staff to best meet park needs.
“For the last few years, we have heard at our annual meetings with North Fork residents that river use seems to be increasing,” said Flathead National Forest Supervisor Chip Weber. “This information will allow us to better understand how much, where and when use is occurring. It will help us to better plan for proper facilities and management.”
“This is the sort of thing we could not do alone,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “With the expertise from the University of Montana and the financial support of the Glacier National Park Conservancy, we are conducting cutting edge research about the way our public lands are used here in northwest Montana.”
Monitoring technology used in the park and now expanded to the Flathead National Forest along the Flathead Wild and Scenic River include: tube counters placed along roads and trails, and camera counters that enable the calibration of mechanical counters and estimation of river use levels.
The data collected will better help the park and forest understand visitor use outside the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor, including the Flathead Wild and Scenic River. This information will establish baseline visitor use numbers which in turn will inform future planning efforts such as a Backcountry/Wilderness Stewardship plan for the park, and a joint Flathead Comprehensive River Management Plan for the park and forest.
My den has had a wall calendar next to the desk from the Montana Historical Society for 25 years in a row. The Society’s four calendars for 2017 are a great example of their yearly selections.
I like the black and white archival photographs calendar since it comes every year as a membership benefit. There’s almost always a selection of paintings from Montana artist Charlie Russell and a scenic photographs calendar and, as you see in the photograph here, Indian art.
Since I often write about Montana, all of these are inspirational. I find myself looking at them as I work almost as though their mandalas.
For non-members, these calendars, from top to bottom in the graphic, retail for $12.99 (an engagement calendar), $10.95, $9.95, and $14.99
Cowgirls and Cowboys
Growing up with westerns on TV and in the theaters, cowboys were an icon of the American west, larger than life and nearly mythic. However, photographs in “Cowgirls & Cowboys” show people at work. As the calendar’s introduction points out, these women and men worked in a beautiful place and came to know the land, weather and their animals very well. Nonetheless, they “endured long hours and difficult conditions for relatively little pay.”
The Lakota Way
This beautiful calendar features the work of Lakota and Iroquois artist Jim Yellowhawk, “whose work evokes Lakota star knowledge and the unique Lakota way of life.” He grew up on South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Reservation. You can see samples of his work on his website here.
Each month includes a Lakota wisdom story from teacher and historian Joseph M. Marshall III who grew up on Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. His books include The Lakota Way of Strength and Courage and The Day the World Ended at Little Bighorn. On his website, he writes, “Cante wasteya nape ciyuzapelo. I take your hand in friendship. This is a common Lakota greeting. The literal meaning is with a good heart I take your hand.”
I’m drawn to Montana’s land, history and people. Even if you’ve never been there, a calendar from the Big Sky Country can brighten up a room. Chances are good, though, that your state or favorite place has a historical society as well. Their calendars remind us of why we like a place and–especially if there are kids in the house–have a wonderful educational value as well.
Beyond Schoolmarms and Madams: Montana Women’s Stories, edited by Martha Kohl (Montana Historical Society Press: May 2016), 288 pages, over 100 photographs.
When the histories of the west we studied in high school were written, the emphasis was on great men, both saints and devils, and what they did. We’re slowly finding out there was more to the story; this new book edited by Martha Kohl is part of our re-education. (I’m not sure why the cover photograph shown on Amazon has a slightly different subtitle than the book’s listing or the cover as shown on the MHS site.)
From the Publisher:
“Sheriff Garfield had just been elected to a second term in 1920 when he was fatally shot. His wife Ruth, a ranching woman with a young son, set aside her grief to serve out her husband’s term. She was Montana’s first female sheriff and served two years.
“Stories like Ruth Garfield’s fill the pages of Beyond Schoolmarms and Madams: Montana Women’s Stories. The women featured in this book range from late eighteenth-century Indian women warriors to twenty-first century Blackfeet banker Elouise Cobell. They span geography―from the western Montana women who worked for the Forest Service, to Miles City doctor Sadie Lindeberg. And they span ideology―from the members of the Montana Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, who led the fight for laws banning segregation in public accommodations, to the Women of the Ku Klux Klan. With grit and foresight, these women shaped Montana.”
From the Great Falls Tribune:
“Historian Martha Kohl edited the project, which grew from the MHS Women’s History Matters project marking 100 years of women’s suffrage in the state. Kohl started informally asking people to name 10 women in Montana history.
“Even the best educated seemed to stall at three — Sacajawea, Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin and photographer Evelyn Cameron. But then the stories came of great-grandmothers who homesteaded, widowed mothers who eked out a living in Butte and aunts who served during World War II.
“’In other words, Montanans knew about fascinating women — they just didn’t consider them historical,’ Kohl wrote.”
Martha Kohl (“Montana: Stories of the Land” and “I Do: A Cultural History of Montana Weddings” [see my blog post about that book]) is a historical specialist at the Montana Historical Society.
Many of the essays in the book previously appeared on the MHS webpage Women’s History Matters: 1914 – 2014. The site also contains other references of interest to educators and historians.
According to the San Francisco Book Review, “Each of these stories are short, around three pages or so, and often accompanied by a picture. They tell an interesting story and that is what the contributors bring to life. A story that has been ignored, and if it wasn’t for contributors like these, then these stories would likely be lost forever. Hopefully something like this will bring a closer look to other states and their stories.”
A year ago, I walked into the Interlaken Lounge at Many Glacier Hotel and bought an ice cold mug of Moose Drool. With a name like that, I figured what could possibly go wrong.
It was darned good.
When people asked me what I was drinking, naturally I said “Moose Drool.”
Since most visitors to Glacier Park look for moose but never find them, folks wondered how I got close enough to get the drool into a mug.
“If you ring a bear bell by the light of the moon, a moose will appear,” I said. “Hand it some grass (not pot) to start the drooling process.”
Those who took a sip immediately left the bar and headed out into Swiftcurrent Valley to find their own moose. I left the hotel the next morning before any incident reports were filed with the park rangers.
You brew Moose Drool in Montana but don’t distribute it in faraway Georgia. I see by your business plan, you’re concentrating on your neck of the woods and that makes sense. Meanwhile, I’m stuck sitting here drinking Schlitz. (Not really.)
So, here’s an opportunity for the Big Sky Brewing Company to set up a wonderful promotion. Get a tractor trailer, put your logo all over it, and send it down into Georgia with some guy called Bandit serving as your escort.
Film the whole thing and put it on YouTube. It will go viral. Big Sky will haul in big bucks.
While it may not get me a continuous supply of beer here in northeast Georgia, I’m hoping for a couple of free bottles. Then, next time I’m in the Interlaken Lounge at Many Glacier Hotel, I’ll buy a round of Moose Drool for everyone.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy novels and paranormal short stories including “Dream of Crows” which appears in the Lascaux Prize 2014 anthology.
It’s difficult to read about Montana without coming across Charlie Russell sooner or later. He’s the state’s most celebrated and most widely known artist. This book offers a view of Russell’s work in the collection of the Montana Historical Society in Helena. Nothing is better than seeing the paintings up close. If you can’t do that, this book is a fine introduction.
From the Publisher: Montana’s Charlie Russell brings to life the Montana Historical Society’s world-class collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures, bronzes, and illustrated letters by the Treasure State’s famed “Cowboy Artist.” Using advanced digital technology, each of the 230 pieces in the Society’s permanent collection has been meticulously photographed to bring to life, in vivid color, Russell’s artistic mastery. Carefully researched scholarship illuminates the stories behind each artwork. The result is a catalog of Russell’s art as you’ve never seen it before.
From the Montana Historical Society Press Release
MHS RELEASING NEW CHARLIE RUSSELL BOOK MORE THAN 60 YEARS IN THE MAKING
“In 1952 the Montana Historical Society acquired the Malcolm Mackay family collection of the artwork of Charles M. Russell that became the heart of its unmatched assemblage of the famed Montana cowboy artist’s masterpieces, paintings, illustrated letters, sketches and sculpture.
“Since then, it has been the dream of many to reproduce the entire MHS Russell art collection in a high-quality book that would celebrate the artist’s vision of Montana and the breadth of his amazing career — that took him from cowboying in the Judith Gap to one of the best loved artists of the West…
“…K. Ross Toole, MHS director in 1952, said while raising funds to acquire the Mackay collection: ‘If Montana has contributed one thing to the heritage of the whole West, it is Charles M. Russell’s paintings …. It was Montana that inspired him; it was Montana that he painted.'”
With this book on your coffee table, you can turn off the TV for the Winter.
“Charles Marion Russell (1864–1926) was many things: consummate Westerner, historian, advocate of the Northern Plains Indians, cowboy, writer, outdoorsman, philosopher, environmentalist, conservationist, and not least, artist.” – Charles M. Russell Museum
Charles M. Russell: Photographing the Legend, by Larry Len Peterson, University of Oklahoma Press (March 20, 2014), 329 pages, photographs
From the Publisher: Almost as familiar as the images of the American West he painted and sculpted is the figure of Charles M. Russell himself. Standing or mounted, in boots and wide-brimmed hat, sash knotted at his waist, gaze steady under a hank of unruly hair: he is the one and only “Cowboy Artist.” What is not so well known is the story that unfolds in the myriad photographs of Russell, pictures that document a remarkable life while also reflecting the evolution of photography and the depiction of the American West at the turn of the twentieth century. This biography makes use of hundreds of images of Russell, many never before published, to explore the role of photography in shaping the artist’s public image and the making and selling of his art. More than that, the book shows how the Cowboy Artist personified what he portrayed.
About the Author: “A two-time Western Heritage Award winner for best art book of the year and recipient of the Scriver Award, Larry Len Peterson is an acknowledged expert on art and art history of the American West. His publications include Charles M. Russell, Legacy (1999); A Most Desperate Situation (2000, 2001); Philip R. Goodwin: America.” – Mountain Press Publishing
If you’re a fan of Charles M. Russell, you’ll find a large selection of his works in the Montana Historical Society Museum in Helena, Montana. According to the society, “This collection (numbering over 200 pieces—24 major oils, 33 major watercolors, 40 pen and inks, 15 original models, 60 bronzes, and 34 illustrated letters) is one of the most significant collections of Russell art anywhere. ” Click here for information about the collection and the society.
Badluck Way: A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West, by Bryce Andrews, Atria Books (January 7, 2014), 256 pages
An “Indies Introduce” selection on the January Indie NEXT List, Badluck Way is a memoir about a 23-year-old Seattle man’s work experiences on the Sun Ranch in southwestern Montana.
Writing in the Missoula Independent, Kate Whittle notes that a lot of “starry-eyed men and women” visit Montana, can’t fit in, and soon leave.
“Author Bryce Andrews,” she says, “is one of these adventurers who found a better fit in the West, and learned to love it for things that even native Montanans might not appreciate…
“He’s become a 21st century kind of cowboy, one who’s studied environmental science and conservation, understands the importance of riparian habitats, and he can ride an ATV, rope a heifer, fix a fence and knock back a few beers at the saloon afterward. He can read landscapes like some of us read a street map; he prefers the habitat of open spaces and jagged peaks.”
From the Publisher
In this gripping memoir of a young man, a wolf, their parallel lives and ultimate collision, Bryce Andrews describes life on the remote, windswept Sun Ranch in southwest Montana. The Sun’s twenty thousand acres of rangeland occupy a still-wild corner of southwest Montana—a high valley surrounded by mountain ranges and steep creeks with portentous names like Grizzly, Dead Man, and Bad Luck. Just over the border from Yellowstone National Park, the Sun holds giant herds of cattle and elk amid many predators—bears, mountain lions, and wolves. In lyrical, haunting language, Andrews recounts marathon days and nights of building fences, riding, roping, and otherwise learning the hard business of caring for cattle, an initiation that changes him from an idealistic city kid into a skilled ranch hand. But when wolves suddenly begin killing the ranch’s cattle, Andrews has to shoulder a rifle, chase the pack, and do what he’d hoped he would never have to do.
From the Book
“On my first morning in the bunkhouse, I woke up shivering and listened to the harsh squalling of magpies. Through a little window, past trim boards cracked and shrunken by age and exposure, a handful of stars still pocked the predawn sky. I lay motionless as they faded into the daylight. An insistent, hissing wind slipped through gaps in the window casing. The Madison wind is pitiless. It is a sandblasting, constant presence, meant for howling around the eaves of broken shacks and the scattered bones of winter-killed cattle. Passing cold and dry across my skin, it reminded me how far I was from Seattle.”
In a Bookselling This Week interview, Andrews talked about the challenge of looking after dumb, slow livestock on a vast range with quick-witted predators. “I hope that Badluck Way conveys a deep appreciation for the work of ranching and an equally strong sympathy for wild animals, like the wolf,” he said.
This book brings readers lyrical prose, common sense, violence and a growing appreciation for the continuing need for understanding in the co-existing world of rangers and wild animals.
Historian Ellen Baumler (“Montana Moments: History on the Go,” April 2012) returned six months later with another book of Montana vignettes originating from her “History on the Go” radio program in Helena, Montana. Published by Montana Historical Society in October 2012), the 220-page book is available on Kindle and in paperback is aptly titled More Montana Moments.
The cover art, “Laugh Kills Lonesome,” comes from Charlie Russell. The text is supplemented with illustrations.
From the Publisher
Forget dreary dates and boring facts. More Montana Moments serves up a fresh batch of the most funny, bizarre, and interesting stories from Montana’s history. Meet the colorful cast of the famous and not-so-famous desperadoes, vigilantes, madams, and darned good men and women (and a few critters) who made the state’s history. Best of all, each vignette takes about two minutes to read. So have fun exploring Montana—and enjoy a little history as you go.
From the Montana Historical Society Bookstore
When Evelyn Cameron first rode into Miles City in the dark blue divided riding skirt she had ordered from California, oh, the scandal it caused. Ellen Baumler tells that story and more in More Montana Moments, a collection of more of the most funny, bizarre, and interesting stories from Montana’s history.
From the Book
“Artist Charles Marion Russell carefully chose the subjects of his art based on personal experience. He, more than any other western artist, painted what he knew with great longing and nostalgia for the cowboy way of life he lived and loved so well. In 1925, a year before his death, Russell painted “Laugh Kills Lonesome,” a tribute to this vanishing cowboy lifestyle…He painted himself into the picture as an old cowpoke stoppping by the warm and friendly circle fo a cup of coffee by an a hearty laugh at the end of a long day in the saddle.”