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April 10, 2007
Montana Nuggets Newsletter


In This Issue:

• Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park
• 5 Things You Might Not Know About Lewis and Clark
• On This Day… April 3, 1996
• Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia
• 1790s History Mystery Stones
• Featured Product from The Gift Corral — Pinecone Bookends

 

Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park

Springtime in Montana, the shoulder season, the time of year when we walk around in shorts and T-shirts one day and shovel 8 inches of snow the next. In a spring blizzard we stubbornly put out patio furniture on our decks, because we just know we’ll be enjoying it tomorrow. If cabin fever has you looking for signs of life, it’s time to head to Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park.

Its denizens, black-tailed prairie dogs, also are welcoming spring, looking for the first green shoots of vegetation to push up through the snow. This rodent reservation is an actual “town” complete with its own exit off the interstate a few miles east of Big Timber. It has neighborhoods, a social structure, and even crime.
Although there are many of these towns across central and eastern Montana, Greycliff has the most accessible and easily viewed residents. Pull up to an active mound, and the dogs will disappear, but within a few minutes curiosity wins out. The black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) is native and unique to North America and colonizes primarily grazing lands from Canada to the Southwest.
So many other animals depend on prairie dogs for food and shelter that if the dogs were to disappear it would be devastating to eagles, hawks, foxes, and black-footed ferrets. They’d also be missed by burrowing owls, badgers, and rattlesnakes, who frequently move into abandoned burrows. The mountain plover uses the town’s gravelly habitat for nesting.
Each burrow is surrounded by a mound of dirt that serves as a handy lookout against danger. A soaring golden eagle, for example, will cause the “watch dog” to go into action: he twitches his tail and signals the others with a series of high-pitched “barks,” earning the species its name. The rules apply to locals as well: no dog may stray into another’s territory or it will be chased away.
Greycliff exists because of Livingston wildlife photographer Edward Boehm, who was instrumental in preserving the site when the interstate was built. Assisting was The Nature Conservancy, the Montana Department of Highways, and Fish, Wildlife & Parks. As at any of Montana’s state parks, signs warn you to keep your pets on a leash, which is especially important here because prairie dogs carry fleas, which in turn transmit plague (not likely a problem, but it nearly wiped out a colony at the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge). Besides, loose dogs harass wildlife and ruin the experience for others. Please obey the signs that ask you to not feed the prairie dogs! No matter how cute or hungry they appear, breadcrumbs or your well-meaning popcorn wreaks havoc with their digestive system and habituates them to humans, making them less wild. Your good intentions could kill them, and lord knows they’ve already got their hands full with interstate traffic.

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5 Things You Might Not Know About Lewis and Clark

1. What was the total cost of the entire Lewis and Clark expedition?
$38,000.*
*
Which works out to $669,650 by today's standards. Still a heck of a deal for an expedition like that. (Conversion by measureworth.com) Footnote by Ultimate Press

2. How long did it take Lewis and Clark to portage the eighteen miles around the five waterfalls of Great Falls?
Thirty-two days.

3. How much did Lewis earn for his efforts during the trip?
Forty dollars per month. Clark earned $25 per month; the privates earned $5 per month, and Sacajawea and York earned nothing.

4. Approximately how old was Sacajawea when she and her infant son joined the Lewis and Clark party?
Fifteen or sixteen.

5. How many years after the Lewis and Clark expedition ended did it take William Clark to receive the promotion Lewis promised him, from lieutenant to captain?
195 years. It was awarded by President Bill Clinton.

From “Montana Trivia” by Janet Spencer, published by Riverbend Publishing
$10 + $2 S & H Call toll free 866-787-2363
Montana Quizzes available free to any publication, contact Janet@TriviaQueen.com

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On This Day…April 3, 1996

Theodore Kaczynski, the so-called Unabomber, is arrested by the FBI at his cabin outside of Lincoln, Montana. Kaczynski is charged with crafting and planting at least 16 mail bombs over 18 years, killing 3 people and injuring more than 20. Kaczynski is described as a hermit by some Lincoln locals, “a nice guy.” With the FBI came the media, swarming into Montana and questioning many in the area.

Kaczynski was a math genius with academic papers published and considered to be on tenure-track, before leaving the academic world. His madness, genius, trial, guilt and innocence are still debated, with books published about him; references made to his life in works on the brain and psychology; and websites dedicated to his life, writings and discussions of his case.

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Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia

Spring is here and summer is close upon us! The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia can help you plan a vacation, a weekend trip, a day hike, or even your move to Montana!

This best-selling volume offers more information than dozens of other guidebooks combined and has received rave reviews from both Montana residents and individuals from across the U.S.

Not just a reference guide to big-name attractions, this must-have book also uncovers some of the hidden treasures and historical sites that make Montana so special. Learn about scenic drives, fishing holes, mountain hikes, and museums while gaining access to hundreds of hotels, restaurants, outfitters, and much, much more.

The book also includes special extensive sections on both Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks! Order your copy today, and discover all that this Treasure state has to offer!

Get it Now!

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1790s History Mystery Stones

In 1956, four miles northeast of Wibaux, a farmer noticed some curious stones he was clearing from his fields. The stones had carved in them the names of Dean, Mead, Neil, Pike and Watson, and included a minister and two women. All of the stones have two crosses engraved on them also say “1791, June 18, killed in the raid”. James Mead’s stone states he was killed in 1790, and Rev. Neil’s has four crosses on it. Why the mystery? Who were these people and what were they doing here years before Lewis & Clark explored the area? Scholars have attempted to solve the mystery, but haven’t found anything conclusive. None of the names were found in the records of the Hudson Bay Company or in any of the Canadian fur companies during that period. Were they even trappers? What explanation is their for the women and the minister? And who survived to carve the stones?

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Montana Gift Corral

Looking to bring a symbol of Montana into your home? Searching for that perfect western gift or souvenir? Then don't miss the huge selection of quality-crafted items at the Montana Gift Corral. The Montana Gift Corral prides itself on offering sensational products by talented and creative artists with store locations in Bozeman and at Gallatin Field Airport. Can't make it to Montana? The Montana Gift Corral offers a full selection of their signature products online. Visitors will find handmade bath and body products, Moose Drool novelty items, whimsical bear and moose figurines, stuffed animals, wood carvings, Christmas ornaments reflecting the Montana spirit, clothing, antler art, handcrafted jewelry, gourmet foods (including Montana's famed huckleberry products!), Montana silversmith items, household décor items ranging from lamps to rustic furniture to picture frames, and much, much more!  Shop Now!

Featured Product

A beautiful way to display your books, this set features a natural feel and would be at home in any rustic décor. Add Pinecone Votive Candleholder for an outstanding nature gift. At the River’s Edge is available under the “Other Books” category. 6” long, 4” wide, 7-1/2” tall. Original price: $30.00, Sale price: $22.50 Buy This Item

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