How Can You Tell?

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

All day long we’ve been driving in Montana, which is cowboy country and mining country. To assist folks in distinguishing these from say the Midwest kind of country which also may have horses and cows, here are some distinguishing marks and features of cowboy country. You know you’re in cowboy country when you see:

• Cattleguards at the freeway entrances. Now, I grew up on a cattle ranch, and just about every rancher had a cattleguard at the main ranch entrance. It’s made of steel or wood beams with gaps in between them so that people or cars can pass over, but cattle can’t.

cattleguardHowever, until today I’ve never in my life seen a cattleguard at a freeway entrance … must be cowboy country. However, the best guide to whether it’s cowboy country or not are the want ads … here were some clues from today’s local newspaper:

• The first three sections in the want ad of the local paper are “Horses”, “Livestock”, and “Pets”. Don’t want to waste time going through ads for furniture to get to the good stuff, I guess.

• The largest section in the want ads is “Farm and Ranch Equipment” … followed closely by “Guns”.

• The first two ads in the “Miscellaneous For Sale” section of the local paper are for sausage stuffing machines … definitely cowboy country.

• There are advertisements like “LIFE SIZE Tom Mountain Lion Mounted on a Rock $550″.

• The “Homes For Sale” section of the want ads includes trailers.

• You can be sure that you’re in cowboy country when the “Antiques” section of your newspaper offers you the unparalleled opportunity to buy an “Antique Manure Spreader, Built Early 1900″, for only $800 …

antique manure spreader• And the final clue that we’re in cowboy country? The fact that the day after the finals of the FIFA World Soccer Cup, there was no mention of soccer in the paper anywhere … quite refreshing, actually.

How about signs that it’s mining country? Well, big holes in the ground in the middle of cities are kind of a clue … here’s a giant open-pit mine in the city of Butte, Montana, which sprung up on the place called the “Richest Hill In The World” because of the precious metals taken out of it …

butte mineThe next clue was the name of the biggest bank building in town …

butte bankYeah, that’s mining country.

Then you have the fact that about one bar in three in Butte is an Irish pub … given the number of early miners who were from Ireland, I suppose that’s no surprise.

Finally, I learned that you can tell a mining town from other towns by their preferred choice of anaesthetics …

overland ryeToday was another day when the emergent phenomena controlled the temperature. It was clear in the morning. Then when it got hot, we got cumulus clouds to reflect much of the solar energy back to outer space. And finally, as the earth heated even more, we got a whole complex of thunderstorms, with cold rain and winds that knocked the temperature right back down again.

storm over montanaWe’re in Missoula, Montana tonight. Tomorrow, we roll north to Flathead Lake, and the next day to Whitefish to see David Raitt and the Baja Boogie Band …

My best to all of you, dear friends, and my sincere hope that your lives are as full of antique manure spreaders and Overland Rye Whiskey as is mine,

w.

 

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84 thoughts on “How Can You Tell?

  1. Love your account Willis. I spent the first 19 summers of my life on the West Shore of Flathead Lake. (largest body of fresh water West of the Missippi) ….oh to be 19 again, on a warm summer evening on the lake.

  2. “LIFE SIZE Tom Mountain Lion Mounted on a Rock…”

    Doesn’t it make you wonder the cowboy who did this without being torn up?

  3. Why have a cattle guard at a freeway entrance when there is no fencing to stop the cattle from walking on the road anyway? Cattle guards are kind of pointless if they are not part of a fence.

  4. Well, despite Joel Shore’s “overwhelming evidence” protestations on another recent thread, I think we can safely say that the cAGW “conjecture without any evidence” is going to be laid to rest in the same place, metaphorically speaking, as the antique manure spreader.

  5. If you ever get a chance to see the Berkeley Pit in Butte, it’s impressive. It looks like a huge lake of rootbeer.
    It’s an EPA superfund site, and I got to see it up close and personal while working on an adjunct project with my university. One novel approach to clean it up was to “mine” the water for metals using acid-loving metal-munchin’ bugs, some species of which we were working with.

  6. ahh keep up the daily dose Willis most enjoyable.
    Love that fading ad for rye – i assume they mean the liquid, not the grain…

    And, as for the “richest hill in the world title” ? might be a few contenders there, I would say South Africa, South America parts of Asia and my own homeland of Oz might be in the running…..

  7. You’re in David Thompson country—I did two books on the man. You should see his name everywhere

  8. “Antique Manure Spreader, for only $800 …”
    ___________________
    Don’t sell yerself short, gotta be worth more than that.
    jajaja

  9. If you get a chance drive up the east shore of flathead lake. The cherry orchards should be just ripening now near Big Fork. Yumm!

  10. Truthseeker says:July 15, 2014 at 6:21 pm: Why have a cattle guard at a freeway entrance when there is no fencing to stop the cattle from walking on the road anyway?

    There usually is. A couple strands of barb wire. If you aren’t used to seeing it, you might’ve overlooked it.

  11. Cattle stops, or cattle grids (also found in sheep country) are found all over Australia on main roads, including on National Route 1 which circles the country, more or less. While the cattle stations may be fenced at the roadside, in many parts of the country they are not, and the grids are there at the boundaries of stations to stop stock escaping to the neighbours’ properties. Where I live at the moment, stock wander on the highway all the time, which can be quite scary, especially at night. The speed limit is 110km/hr but many drivers go faster. Aside from goats (feral) there are sheep and cattle, plus the scariest of all, because they are so unpredictable and come in multiples, kangaroos. Then there is the occasional emu or camel….

  12. You were in Anaconda country Willis. Anaconda was the name of the company that developed and owned the mine. And the main product was copper. In later years, Anaconda deveoped a mine in Chile even bigger than the Butte operation. However Chile nationalized this mine in about 1970. This really was the beginning of the end for Anaconda which no longer exists.

  13. PaulH says:
    July 15, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    We wouldn’t want Al Gore to sit on that antique manure spreader, now would we? ;-)
    ****************************************************************************************************************
    Al Gore IS an antique manure spreader :))))

  14. “Richest Hill In The World”. A miner’s form of hockeystick.

    Might be true except that about 10,000 others claim the same thing. Kalgoorlie claimed to be the richest mile in the world, Hill End the richest quarter mile in the world, and Mount Morgan the richest mine in the world, all of these in Australia. I suppose the ‘richest’ is like ‘unprecedented’, is really depends on how much you exaggerate. I prefer Ecclestiastes, ‘There is nothing new under the sun’.

    What did Mark Twain say ‘A mine is a hole in the ground with a liar on top’.

  15. I remember reading a 70’s edition of the Wallowa County Chieftain obituary column. It started off solemn enough but then went on to describe the family reunion that happened after the funeral and that a “good time was had by all”. Priceless.

  16. I hiked up the hillside to the big M behind the Univ. of Montana when I was in Missoula in 1974. The hill was a bit odd, the face I was climbing was all grassland, another face was forested. Soon after I got home, an issue of Science News arrived with an aerial photograph of that hill. The article associated with it talked about glacial Lake Missoula and the huge floods that were released when the glacial dam failed. It turns out the grassy side of the hill had lost its topsoil in the floods. The water drained to the west, creating the scablands of eastern Washington and scouring out the Columbia River Valley.

    The SN article was about the similarity of that terrain and some on Mars, the implication being that Mars had floods too, a very long time ago.

    http://hugefloods.com/LakeMissoula.html

    http://hugefloods.com/Scablands.html

  17. I vote for “Rum Jungle ” uranium mine in OZ. I have a friend who chased the uranium there,wrote a book “The Uranium Hunters” years ago,and has great stories to tell. I have uranium ore samples he brought back to NZ around 1952.

  18. Carl “Bear” Bussjaeger says:
    July 15, 2014 at 7:05 pm
    ———————————————————
    I am just looking at the picture. I am not seeing any fence attached to the cattle guard shown.

  19. @enxtim: That approbation was given to Butte in the late 1800’s-early 1900’s when Butte, MT was the largest producer of Copper ore in the world. In 1902 nearly 20% of the copper produced in the US came from Butte. Over 21 Billion pounds of Copper (as well as significant amounts of silver, gold, manganese, zinc, lead and molybdenum) came out of the Butte Mining District during the period 1880-2004. Truly an astounding amount of metal. I think think the case can be made that it was “The Richest Hill on Earth”.

  20. I thank the cowboys for the meat they put on my plate! They are the real environmentalists. Beautiful country up there.

  21. Overland Rye; sounds downright tasty. Unfortunately, I’ve never heard of it before; I wonder if it is strictly local?

    Of course when the next ice age starts rolling in and wheat doesn’t cooperate, growing rye will be a fair substitute; with some side benefits. I hope that it doesn’t affect corn too much, sure hate to give up bourbon.

    I always thought that one of the best ways to locate people out West was to look for trees. Some planted for shade and others planted in a row to break up the wind and snows.

  22. Happy trails, Willis!

    I always enjoy your unique perceptions of the world around you in whatever part of the world you’re in at the moment.

  23. Around 1920, the Mount Morgan gold/copper mine in Australia had the reputation for the world’s biggest gold mine. This is a credible claim. We operated the mine and several others in the 1970-1990 period and I often read the past Annual Reports held in the Directors’ Quarters, during evenings of visits.
    The mine operated for about 100 years.
    Of those who became wealthy shareholders, there was William Knox D’Arcy who went on to find oil in Persia and caused the origin of British Petroleum; and Walter & Eliza Hall, whose name now accompanies one of the more highly regarded of the world’s medical research institutes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Knox_D%27Arcy

    http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hall-walter-russell-454

    ……………
    We miners prefer to have people realise that the benefits of national income enhancement using new wealth such as minerals can often outweigh the admitted (but usually tiny) damage caused by mining. In simple words, taken overall, the benefits far, far exceed the detriment to society.

  24. Willis, the city of Silver Star, an hour plus west of Bozeman, has a one man museum of mining equipment (and a lot of other interesting junk like a dredge from the Panama Canal) that will interest anyone with an appreciation of machinery. LLoyd owns and runs the place, in his 80’s.
    There is something special about that part of the country and the people who call it home.

  25. Love Montana
    Great Falls is about 6 hours south of Calgary
    We have been down to Helena too which is also beautiful.
    If you have the chance come north to Glacier National / Waterton National parks which straddle the border between Montana and Alberta
    Beautiful Country

  26. Heading east?
    Make sure you keep count of the number of signs you see for “Wall Drug”
    (^_^)

  27. Grew up on a cattle ranch,huh? Maybe you know why the women are always the ones that want to put the bands on the bull calves?

  28. Anaconda deveoped a mine in Chile even bigger than the Butte operation. However Chile nationalized this mine in about 1970. This really was the beginning of the end for Anaconda which no longer exists.

    Francisco D’Anconia, anyone?

  29. I was doing some research on Farmall F-12 tractors, (my brother is restoring a 1938 steel wheel) i found a video of 85’yr old James Gall of Reserve, KS. who owns the oldest known F-12 one of 25 pre-production test models. He has 117 antique rare tractors, also a large collection of plows and manure spreaders, that one is definitely an oldie.

  30. Great road story Willis. Is there anything better than road trippin’?

    Got pulled over for speeding outside Butte a few years back. The officer had never heard of “Manitoba”, bless his heart.
    His cruiser also had a distinctive bovine air about it. He had to haul a calf in the back of his car previous to pulling me over. Gotta love the rural living.
    He told me he had been waiting for me all morning. I said I got there as fast as I could.
    Once he stopped laughing, he let me off with a warning.

  31. Truthseeker says:
    July 15, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Why have a cattle guard at a freeway entrance when there is no fencing to stop the cattle from walking on the road anyway? Cattle guards are kind of pointless if they are not part of a fence.

    Indeed there are fences, both at the entrances and all along the sides of the freeways.

    w.

  32. @ David Ball, I’m Albertan now but from Saskatchewan, try getting almost any American to say it let alone spell it. Way too funny, most think you are from some obscure east European country in the mountains near Rendoosia or Grimzimistan. Then there’s also the wield pause when you say you are from Regina. Lol

  33. Not sure if it is still the case but back in my college years speeding tickets in Montana were $5 for “wasting natural resources”.

    Idaho has cattle guards at most freeway entrances although instead of metal they are usually parallel painted white lines about 6 inches wide spaced 6 inch apart spanning across the road. Cattle will balk at crossing the lines.

  34. Re Willis Eschenbach says: July 15, 2014 at 9:33 pm
    Re Truthseeker says: July 15, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Cattle guards (or not) might depend on whether the area through which the freeway passes is defined as open range or closed range. For example, here is an excerpt from Oregon regulations:

    http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/AHID/pages/livestock_id/openclosed_range.aspx

    Loose livestock
    Question: Somebody´s livestock is running loose on my property. What can I do about it?

    Answer: A lot depends on whether your property is in an Open Range area or a Livestock District. (See definitions below.

    If you´re in an open range area and don´t want other people´s livestock on your property, you must build adequate fences or have natural barriers to keep livestock out.
    If you´re in a livestock district, the animal owner is required to keep the animals on their property.
    [end excerpt]
    My understanding is that if the area is closed range and you hit the cow, it’s the cow’s owner’s fault. In open range, if you hit the cow, you just bought the cow, but you can’t keep it.

  35. Missoula is also the home of Mountain Press Publishing Company, publisher of the Roadside Geology series including R. G. of the Yellowstone Country. These highly recommended booklets are great if you want to understand the geological history of common roads through various states and a few specific areas. I made sure to visit all the less common geothermal areas mentioned in the book when I went to Yellowstone a few years back.

    I grew up a few miles from the Burlingame Gulch (near where the Walla Walla river empties into the Columbia) which shows the many mud layers of the Missoula ice age floods. We called it the “Little Grand Canyon” and I even hiked into it once with a friend, but didn’t understand what caused it until many years later. I find it amazing they never did a field trip in school or even talked about such things in science class.

    The man who discovered the ice age floods, J. Harlen Bretz, was trained in Geology with a PhD but was teaching high school in Seattle when he started to study Eastern Washington and the areas beyond. He came to the conclusion that about 14,000 years ago, a glacial dam would back up water 950 feet deep over the present town of Missoula and then break lose sending a wall of water across Washington and into the Columbia. When it hit Portland it was restricted and would flood all the way up the Willamette Valley to Eugene where I live now. It did this over and over about every 55 years for about 2000 years.

    When he first proposed this at The Geological Society of Washington D. C. meeting in 1927, the Eastern geologists laughed at him and told him it could never have happened. There was a bias in geology then that all processes that formed landscapes had to be slow, gradually wearing the mountains into sand on the beach. For a cataclysm of biblical proportions to present itself was considered a great heresy at the time. Only time was on Bretz’s side and he finally won the argument, although it took 50 years and Bretz was 90 when his ideas were finally accepted.

    Does any of this sound familiar?

    Willis, hope you have a few cold ones at the Bulldog in Whitefish. I spent some time there while installing robots at Columbia Falls near by.

  36. Montana rural folks like to “control” their own. You will signs to that effect on properties as you drive through rural Montana.
    It is a statement of independence, derision of federal gun control, and generally an expression to control one’s life free of the federal government interference.
    Al Gore, Joe Biden, and Barack Obama are not too popular with the Montana folks who display “I control my own” signs.

    P.S. the Montana road-side farmer’s cherry stands are not to be missed.

  37. Thanks Willis.
    I’ve seen horses and bird-dogs navigate cattle guards. I’ve seen cattle guards painted on asphalt with white paint.
    There is usually a fence associated with these things, but also there is a passage way on one side (with a gate) to allow cattle and the horses to pass as needed. Like so:

    http://ontwolanes.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/cattle_guard.jpg?w=640&h=478

    –———————————–

    Ric Werme says:
    July 15, 2014 at 8:00 pm
    “. . . creating the scablands of eastern Washington and scouring out the Columbia River Valley.

    The Columbia River pre-dates the floods and the Valley ended up being a depository for much of the soil and rock removed from the landscape to the east. What didn’t stay went on to the Pacific Ocean.
    An Introduction to the Ice Age Floods

    http://www.iafi.org/

  38. In the Kimberley Region of Western Australia, station country, we have an occasional cattle grid across Highway 1, with adjoining fences long gone. Fences are gradually being built along the highway to try and prevent the many casualties each year from cars hitting livestock. I have had many close shaves at night, but lots of travelers have been less fortunate.

  39. Truthseeker is worried about the lack of fences. I’m still waiting for Mel Brooks to explain “the boom gate in the desert” scene from the movie Blazing Saddles. And i thought that was an original idea.

  40. If you are interested in the history of Montana’s “Richest Hill on Earth” (also touted as “A mile high and a mile deep”), there is a wonderful book first published in 1935, when many of those who knew what happened were still living. Check out _The War of the Copper Kings_, by C.B. Glasscock. It reads like a novel, but it’s all real. It’s still in print and available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.

  41. In Utah, where the cattle guards are also painted on the road, you must say “Vrump…vrump” when passing over there.
    I also had a horse who refused to cross the painted lines at stop signs and traffic lights during parades…practically had to dismount and drag him across.

  42. Hi Willis, I shamelessly linked to one of your articles (Parrot fish as national birds) here, http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11293566

    The comments are what I expected. Gandalf is the resident RC troll, along with Forward Thinker. Sam Judd tries at times to be reasonable, but the catastrophic alarmism always creeps in.

    Enjoy your holiday, I was through Big Sky country years ago, mind blowing is my main impression still.

  43. Missoula feels like a port city like Duluth, at the edge of a great lake…. Which it once was, in fact, before ancient Lake Missoula scoured out the Columbia scablands of eastern Washington, after the last ice age http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glacial_Lake_Missoula

    Willis, all of the signposts you write about the West are true, valid and authentic. Like Ric Werme, I also hiked up the “M” to the East of the University of Montana campus, but this month in 1997, auditioning the history department for my prospective application for the master’s there.

    What you’ve perhaps missed are the clankity-clank-clank of all the one-armed bandits of Montana in public places like bars – small stakes gambling is a revenue stream for Montana state government. (Or has this changed since I last visited.) And the unfinished floors of the bars.

    Back in the 1990s, the ‘over 21 only’ drinking age was only casually enforced. I recall giving rides home for a few falling down drunk coeds, and when the police noticed our antics, they never asked to see our IDs.

    If you go to Glacier NP, do spend time at on the shores of Lake McDonald – the atmosphere of the Northern Rockies definitely starts around there. It reminds me of the Great North Woods around the Great Lakes – Lake McDonald is the only place in the Rockies where I’ve experienced the feel that Eastern forest land.

  44. From your cattleguard story I can tell that you have never been to the Alps, either…. Where there is one at about every turn of the road in many places…

  45. There are more Cornishmen down mines than Irish.

    In a bar in West Yellowstone, Montana, i saw ”All guns must be checked at the bar”. Sounds like common sense to me.

  46. I’ve heard that you know you’re in cowboy country when your wife is bigger than your pickup…

  47. greymouser70 says:
    July 15, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    @enxtim: That approbation was given to Butte in the late 1800′s-early 1900′s when Butte, MT was the largest producer of Copper ore in the world. In 1902 nearly 20% of the copper produced in the US came from Butte. Over 21 Billion pounds of Copper (as well as significant amounts of silver, gold, manganese, zinc, lead and molybdenum) came out of the Butte Mining District during the period 1880-2004. Truly an astounding amount of metal. I think think the case can be made that it was “The Richest Hill on Earth”.

    It is unlikely that the massive copper mine in Butte would even make it into the top 10 largest producers in the world.

    The clear winner is the Witwatersrand Basin in South Africa. Over 50% of all the gold ever mined comes from this one area.

    A distant second might be the Sudbury Basin which has over 20 mines, most would be considered world class on their own. The largest, the Frood-Stobie complex has produced over 30 billion equivalent pounds of copper (mostly nickel with copper and platinum-palladium). Creighton mine, located within the same basin is about the size of Butte by dollar value of metal mined. Then there are over 18 more, all within an 80 km basin.

    Then there is the massive Norilsk nickel mine in Russia. Over 1 billion tonnes of nickel, copper and precious metals. Easily two Buttes and still in production.

    Then the massive Grasberg Deposit, the world’s largest gold mine and third largest copper mine currently in production. The massive concentrator processes 230,000 tonnes per day of material.

    The Carlin Trend in Nevada, for example, has produced more than 50 million ounces of gold. The mine at Butte would be about 45 million equivalent gold ounces ($1,300 Au oz and $3.00 Cu lbs).

    World class, but barely top 10.

  48. In line with the picture of the Metal Bank, there is a small town in the UP of Michigan named Trout Lake that once had a bank named Snow Bank. Nice sense of humor.

  49. Willis, when you are in Missoula, you will want to sample a local brew, Moose Drool beer.

    And be very careful about following defensive driving techniques when traveling north from Missoula on Highway 93 towards Flathead Lake.

    The unofficial state motto of Montana is “drive free or die.”

  50. In my many trips across Montana, looking out at the prairie grasslands of the majority if the east/north side, I have wondered how many acres it would take to feed a vegetarian. Let’s all thank the cattle for spending the time to convert the nutrient / protein poor grass into rich health meat.

  51. At Rolling Hills Ranch in northeast Arizona, there’s a railroad spur through the ranch that’s killed several head. If the railroad repair crews leave the gate open, some cattle can get in, climb the 15′ embankment, and lick the tracks.

    There’s a switch up there that uses the rails as a ground, so there’s a tiny bit of current going through the tracks. Once the cattle “taste” the buzz of electricity in the tracks, the get addicted to it, so if the gate is open, they’re eager to get up onto the tracks.

    It was described to me as, “If there’s a contest between a cow and a train, the train generally wins.”

  52. Second that recommendation on Moose Drool beer, also one of my favorites when I visit Montana. Had to put up with all types of kidding from the Coors Lite drinkers in my group.

  53. johnmarshall @ July 16, 2014 at 3:30 am

    My folks owned a country bar in Northern Wisconsin. We allowed folks to bring their guns in so they wouldn’t risk one being stolen. During hunting season, we’d have quite an arsenal leaning in the corner by the door.

    I remember taking my rifle to school for hunter’s safety classes (storing it in my locker – and on the bus to and from school). Now-a-days, that would be discouraged.

  54. How can you tell the difference between a Male and Female in Cowboy country:
    The Male has two rings in his blue jeans back pockets and the Female only has one. (Copenhagen chew)
    When discussing how hard it rained it is always referenced to a cow peeing on a flat rock.
    Love Eastern Oregon! It’s so quite it’s defining, no blue pollution from lights so the night sky touches the ground.

  55. Have friends up that way, several others have visited in the last couple years.
    Lolo Peak. Rattlesnake National Park. Glacier. Kalispell. Smokejumper school. Athletic medicine clinic. Paper-making plant (phew!, though that may have been closed). Bees. Cherries. The people at the Missoulian offices (Lee publishing) see the big M every day.

    And Calgary Stampede (room-mate/Control Data system analyst colleague back in the day and a friend of a friend now live there).

    Cattle-guards are all over the place, if you know to look: Florida (e.g. a block or two from the National High Magnetic Field Lab which is on part of what used to be the university’s dairy farm), Missouri, Ohio… just not so many right at the inter-state high-way. I seem to recall 1 or 2 over-passes or special exits in MT or the Dakotas, just so some farmer/rancher could continue to get from one part of his land to another when they built the road through it. (I once read that Missouri produces more cattle than Texas or Montana due to the water supply, richer soil or some such.)

  56. The miners had their choice of bars in Butte. The red light district was pretty famous as well The Metals Bank in Butte is now a brew pub…You can eat and drink in the old bank vault. How’s that for recycling? And around the corner is a distillery.

  57. Steve from Rockwood says:
    Perhaps I should have emphasized the word was. At the turn of the century (1900), Butte was “the Richest Hill on Earth”. All of this mineral wealth came out of a district that was approximately 2mi X 4mi in size. Keep in mind that Bingham Canyon began large scale mining in 1906. Butte at that point had already been in production for over 20 years.

  58. Alan Robertson says:
    July 15, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    “Antique Manure Spreader, for only $800 …”
    ___________________
    Don’t sell yerself short, gotta be worth more than that.
    jajaja
    ————————————————-
    Yeah, and you’re not that old either.
    cn

  59. James Gibbons says: July 16, 2014 at 7:25 am Second that recommendation on Moose Drool beer, also one of my favorites when I visit Montana. Had to put up with all types of kidding from the Coors Lite drinkers in my group.

    Right on with that opinion. If you are going to all the trouble of driving to Missoula, Montana, for the experience of living life in a more intense and pleasurable way, then why on earth would you put up with a much inferior beer such as Coors Lite when you got there? (Or any Coors product, for that matter, when you can have Moose Drool instead?)

  60. Chuck Nolan says:
    July 16, 2014 at 9:49 am

    “Antique Manure Spreader, for only $800 …”

    The problem is finding enough antique manure to spread, that stuff is hard to come by.

    w.

  61. <blockquoteWillis Eschenbach says:
    July 16, 2014 at 10:06 am
    Chuck Nolan says:
    July 16, 2014 at 9:49 am

    “Antique Manure Spreader, for only $800 …”

    The problem is finding enough antique manure to spread, that stuff is hard to come by.

    w.

    Coprolite should be anitque enough, but you’d have to put it through a pulverizer to make it spreadable. And granted, still somewhat rare.

  62. Willis Eschenbach says:
    July 15, 2014 at 9:33 pm
    Truthseeker says:
    July 15, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Why have a cattle guard at a freeway entrance when there is no fencing to stop the cattle from walking on the road anyway? Cattle guards are kind of pointless if they are not part of a fence.

    “Indeed there are fences, both at the entrances and all along the sides of the freeways.

    w.”

    The fence needs to be attached at the point where the cattle guard is located or the cows walk around the cattle guard and walk up the road. The picture does not show such a fence. Probably why the comment.

  63. I don’t like to disagree but the following; ‘You can be sure that you’re in cowboy country when the “Antiques” section of your newspaper offers you the unparalleled opportunity to buy an “Antique Manure Spreader, Built Early 1900″, for only $800 …’ is not necessarily a clear cut indication one is in cowboy country. One can find antique manure spreaders all over Washington D.C.

    Whoops; you’re right, I’m wrong. I forgot the price. Antique manure spreaders in Washington go for hundreds of thousands of dollars more.

    Have a good trip.

  64. Willis writes:

    You can be sure that you’re in cowboy country when the “Antiques” section of your newspaper offers you the unparalleled opportunity to buy an “Antique Manure Spreader, Built Early 1900″, for only $800 …

    Heck, I can buy a subscription to the NY Times for less than that.

  65. Little known fact: The lowest elevation in Montana is where the Kootenai River crosses the Montana-Idaho border – in far northwest Montana. Nearly everyone would bet the lowest elevation was somewhere in eastern Montana.

    Also, stand atop Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park and answer nature’s call – it could theoretically flow into three oceans – Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic.

    Willis, don’t know where you are headed after Whitefish, but consider Highway 12 over Lolo Pass into Idaho and down the Lochsa River Scenic Highway which roughly follows Lewis and Clark’s route west. One of America’s most beautiful drives. Don’t forget to stop and look UP to see mountain goats high up in the canyon.

  66. You can be sure that you’re in cowboy country when the “Antiques” section of your newspaper offers you the unparalleled opportunity to buy an “Antique Manure Spreader, Built Early 1900″

    Strictly speaking, a manure spreader shows that you’re in farming country, not cowboy country.

  67. You’re in cowboy country if you’ve become proficient at disassembling and reassembling corrals in order to cheat your 4X around locked gates. No, I’m not a rustler, please don’t shoot! LOL!

  68. “My best to all of you, dear friends, and my sincere hope that your lives are as full of antique manure spreaders and Overland Rye Whiskey as is mine – W”

    And to you Willis. No lack of the antique manure spreaders in my family, and though we generally prefer Scotch, we’ll take the Overland in a pinch. Bless you and yours and have a safe trip.

    It’s been fun to see how many readers here can claim: you know you are a cowboy when… or, you know you are a redneck when… Always a diverse and fun readership on this website.

  69. @ Steve from Rockwood: My final comment on this, All those mining districts you mentioned are much bigger than the Butte Mining District. I doubt you will find any mining district in the world as compact as the one at Butte that has produced as much mineral wealth as it has. And since the City of Butte sits on the hill that lies above the mines that were there; I think a valid case could be made that it is/was “the Richest Hill on Earth”.

  70. “And, as for the “richest hill in the world title” ? might be a few contenders there, I would say South Africa, South America parts of Asia and my own homeland of Oz might be in the running…..” –

    South Africa and many other places have certainly produced more value than Butte. But not from one single mineral district… much of the value comes in the silver, at nearly three-quarters of a billion ounces, probably #3 in the world. If you can document a single mineral district – not a combination, not a nation, etc. that compares in value to Butte’s 5 square miles, feel free to come forth. Until then, we will claim to be the Richest Hill on Earth. Even if proven wrong, Butte’s richness goes far beyond the mineral riches…. 30 nationalities and ethnicities,astonishing labor history, compelling architecture (more contributing historic properties than any National Landmark in the US)…. :)

  71. Wikipedia lists Butte, MT as historically the second greatest silver source in the USA behind the Coeur d’Alene District in Idaho. However, for a single “richest hill” one might have to consider Mt Davidson atop the Comstock Lode (Virginia City, Nevada).

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