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You won’t get through Montana without seeing huckleberry products. These little gems are made into preserves, candies, syrups, candles lotions and soaps. The huckleberry is very similar to the blueberry, and incredibly sweet and tart at the same time. They have a long history in the northwest. The Native Americans used them as an important source of food, drink, and rich dyes. Because of the huckleberry’s unique flavor and challenge to harvest it has become one of Montana’s hottest commodities and the main ingredient in one of the state’s fastest growing industries.

The huckleberry that grows in the mountains and forests of Montana is special. The berries only grow in the wild on bushes. They won’t bear fruit when transplanted or grown commercially, and availability varies year by year according to the whims of Mother Nature. In order to harvest huckleberries, pickers must go into the high mountain, Montana back country to find the bushes. “Bearing” in mind that huckleberries are a favorite food of grizzly bears, picking these tasty morsels isn’t just hard, but can be darn hazardous.

No one knows just why huckleberry bushes reproduce or what makes one patch of berries good picking one year and not the next. To really enjoy huckleberries for yourself try some of the wonderful products that you’ll see sold throughout the state. During the summer you can often find a special treat of fresh huckleberries for sale at the local farmers markets.

Excerpted from "The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia". For
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On This Date in Montana--March 24, 1978

Congress establishes the Absarokee-Beartooth Wilderness area. This remote and rugged alpine wilderness comprises the largest single expanse of land above 10,000 feet in the lower 48 states. The entire area covers over a million acres and includes two national forests. 28 peaks over 12,000 feet tower over more than 950 lakes and nine major drainages.

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