Tall Tales of Montana Homesteading and Beyond

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The second biannual Public Lands Survey of registered Montana voters was commissioned by the University UM field students climbing the Boulder Batholith. Photo by Rick and Susie Graetz The Boulder Batholith A batholith is a large mass of igneous rock covering an area of at least 40 square miles.

The Boulder Batholith, small by world standards, stretches from the Helena area south to Dillon and The Bears Ears, seen from the west, loom in the distance. Bears Ears National Monument is constantly in the news, yet very few Montanans know much about it. On Wednesday, Dec.

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Gill netting for lake trout began in Quartz Lake in But when lake trout showed up, the population crashed. Translocating, or moving, bull trout upstream to Pioneer town in Scobey, a gathering of many otherwise doomed homestead-era buildings, is a must-see in northeast Montana. Photo by Rick and Susie Graetz The future seemed especially promising — so much so, in fact, that most Montana homesteaders readily heeded the calls by government officials Juvenile Bull Trout photo credit USGS Immersed in a cathedral-like forest of tall trees in the cool quiet of morning, my thoughts are interrupted upon hearing an unfamiliar sound behind me — horse hooves.

Seven children were raised in this homestead cabin north of Circle. The most significant was the Enlarged Homestead Act of , which doubled the free land available to settlers to Fall colors surround the Parker Homestead in Montana.


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Photo by Rick and Susie Graetz "As I looked across the rolling expanse of prairie, filled with the beauty of a Montana sunset, I sent up a little prayer of thanksgiving from my heart for this our very first home. Only a rectangle of prairie Flathead cherry trees dressed in their autumn finest Photo by Rick and Susie Graetz At a recent book signing, a gentleman who knew quite a bit about the Judith Basin country explained how Utica, a small town in the basin on the road into the Little Belt Mountains, received its name.

The Yellowstone River winds near Big Timber.

No one knows for certain but it is thought these mountains were named for prospectors who came north into what would become Montana from Main street of the small town of Augusta, Montana Photo by Rick and Susie Graetz Do you sometimes think the state is being inundated with new ways, and we are losing the real Montana? In some places perhaps yes, but most of the state is still the Montana we have always known and perceived. The Dauphin Rapids on the Missouri River Photo by Rick and Susie Graetz Have you ever wondered how certain Montana places, rivers and towns got their unusual or just plain unfathomable names?

Thanks to the incoming railroad across the top of the state, towns along the Hi-Line were named by the At the start of winter, horses brave a ground blizzard on the Rocky Mountain Front. Wyoming is wide, with the breadth of the plains between the Bighorns and the Grand Tetons. California is handsome, with a splendor of success.

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It takes all three adjectives to describe Wildflowers bloom in the Pryor Mountains. From the Yellowstone River Valley and the big-little town Winter blankets the Gallatin River headwaters. Mammoth Hot Springs is an extensive mass of travertine terraces that have been forming over thousands of years.

Travertine is a crystalline limestone that forms in mineral springs saturated with dissolved calcium carbonate CaCO3. The deposition of travertine at Mammoth is unique as most other The Big Snowy Mountains Photo by Rick and Susie Graetz Colors filled the entire sky and painted the many distant mountains in all manners of red, orange and purple. Arriving at the summit of Greathouse Peak in time to experience a prolonged and glorious sunset, Dave Byerly, then publisher of Because of its size it is often more like an ocean than a lake. Those of you who have been out on its rough waters during a major wind storm At that time the reserves were administered by the Department of the Interior.

In , Countless millions of years ago, as the Northern Rockies were building, slabs of Precambrian the oldest classification of Who will know where the Blackfeet cooking pits and buffalo jumps were? Who will tell their children? Grant, married to a Bannock Indian, came from Canada with many family members. They trapped for fur as one of their small incomes.

When the settlers came in, the Metis provided wood. Homesteaders in Teton County needed wood for fuel, for fence posts, corrals and log houses to prove up their claims. Driving into the mountains, Wiseman points out Metis camping spots on the Teton River, places used as they traveled into Choteau.

Those people were poor, too. Fiddling dances were about every Saturday night. They composed a lot of music themselves. The French, Scottish and Irish who married with Indians brought the fiddle. Some Metis married Blackfeet and the fiddle music fused with the drum culture. When his dad got a job with the railroad, they moved to Gilman, where Wiseman went to school in the old bank near Augusta.

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Wiseman tends the Metis cemetery up the South Fork. Only one person buried in the cemetery was white. The rest are mixed, as indeed Metis means mixed. Many of those names are reflected in the cemetery rolls. The Metis also moved often. Some who went to Washington for the fruit harvest and liked it so well they never returned to the Front. They know only pieces of their history. Wiseman put together footlockers of Metis items for schools and programs to check out. The wheels were six-feet tall, which meant it rolled easier. The cart body was four feet wide and six feet long.

The carts were entirely of wood — no nails, no screws.

Tall Tales Of Montana Homesteading And Beyond

They were made for easy disassemble to float over rivers in sections. Wiseman likes a red flag on the models he makes, representing the blood of his ancestors. The axles were left ungreased because the dirt of the prairie would cling to the grease and lock-up the axle. Grease was hard to come by anyway. The result of these ungreased wheels was a loud screech. The Metis took the infinity symbol for their flag, an older symbol than the Canadian maple leaf by years, he says. Wiseman also does school programs and takes children on the Old North Trail and to Blackfeet sights.