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In This Issue:

Montana: A Treasure Trove of Trivia
By Kristin E. Hill

View of the Beartooth Plateau from the Beartooth Highway.

With 147,046 square miles of mountains, rivers, forests, prairies, farmland, and sagebrush, Montana has aptly earned its nickname as the “Treasure State.” For visitors and those lucky enough to live in America’s fourth largest state, Montana’s diverse terrain offers a treasure trove of adventure, culture, and small-town friendliness accompanied by tons of trivia amassed over nearly 120 years of statehood.

Montana’s Landscape and Roads

  • Approximately 12,000 miles of roads span Montana’s landscape, many of which were original Native American and migrating buffalo routes. 
  • With 63% of the state’s land involved in farming, Montana ranks second only to Texas in the amount of cultivated land.
  • Only Alaska, California, and Texas boast more land than Montana.
  • The distance from Chicago to New York City is roughly equivalent to the distance from one end of Montana to the other.
  • Boasting Montana’s fifty highest points, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness is also recognized as the continental U.S.’ largest single expanse of land above 10,000 feet.
  • Montana really is a crowded place when you do the math; per square mile there are 1.4 elk, 1.4 antelope, 3.3 deer, 896 fish, and about 6 people.
  • The town of Alzada in Montana’s southeast corner is actually closer to the Texas panhandle than it is to the northwestern community of Yaak. Nearly 800 miles separate the two Montana towns.
  • Many of the famous scenes for the movie “A River Runs Through It” were filmed on the Gallatin River in southwestern Montana’s Gallatin Canyon, even though the film’s story actually centers upon Montana’s Blackfoot River.
  • Nicknamed the “richest hill on Earth,” Butte has produced over twenty-one billion pounds of copper, ninety million ounces of silver, ninety million pounds of molybdenum, and three million ounces of gold.
  • Montana’s state flower, the Bitterroot, can live for more than a year without water. The flower is so unique that it can even be revived after being dried and pressed!
  • Fort Peck Lake boasts 1,600 miles of shoreline, the same number of total miles comprising California’s coastal front.
  • Measuring in with 124 shoreline miles and 188 square surface miles, Flathead Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Great Lakes.
  • Montana’s wilderness areas comprise a total of 3,442,416 acres of land, nearly the same size as the state of Connecticut.
  • The world’s shortest river runs its course in Montana. Just outside Great Falls, the Roe River flows 201 feet from Giant Springs into the Missouri River.
  • Giant Springs is the world’s largest freshwater spring. Located in Great Falls and carbon dated at 3,000 years old, the spring pumps 7.9 million gallons of water every hour.


Other Interesting Montana Trivia

  • Billings is frequently nicknamed the “Wall Street of the West.” At the Billings’ public Auction Yards, over $150 million in livestock is sold annually.
  • Born in Cardwell, Montana, Chet Huntley became a famous newscaster and was the driving force behind the establishment of the renowned Big Sky Ski Resort.
  • In Anaconda, the smelter smokestack is the world’s largest free-standing masonry structure. A car could drive around the smokestack’s rim, and even more impressively, the Washington Monument could fit inside with plenty of room to spare!
  • During the 1880s, Helena boasted more than fifty millionaires – more millionaires per capita than any other U.S. community at that time!
  • The Pine Butte Swamp Nature Preserve near Choteau provided North America’s first fossilized dinosaur eggs. The discovery proved that some dinosaurs were motherly and tended their nests and babies.
  • The Gideons placed their first bibles in 1908 in the Superior Hotel in Superior, Montana. They have now traveled across the world, placing bibles in thousands of hotels.
  • On August 20 and 21, 1910, one of America’s largest forest fires in history burned three million acres across Idaho and Montana. Hurricane winds blew fireballs across the mountains with smoke turning the sky dark as far east as Colorado.

For more fascinating and strange Montana trivia, check out “The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia”!

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The Bozeman Cemetery

Excerpted from “The Ultimate Montana Atlas & Travel Encyclopedia”

John Bozeman is certainly the most notable personage laid to rest in the Bozeman cemetery.

There are few plots of land n Montana that have as much history buried in them as the Bozeman Cemetery. The stories of the individuals buried here—their dreams, achievements, and failures—give us a rich picture of not only Bozeman’s history, but also the history of the West. Here are the stories of a select few.

John Bozeman
b. 1835 in Georgia d. 1867
When gold was discovered in Colorado, John Bozeman left Georgia in 1860 and headed West, leaving a wife and three children behind. By 1862 Bozeman had traveled to the gold strike in Bannack in what was to become Montana Territory.

The 1860s were turbulent years in Montana’s history. The successive gold strikes brought thousands of fortune seekers within weeks of each discovery. The rich mining camps were terrorized by thieves and murderers; vigilante committees were organized. Meanwhile, the steady stream of wagon trains through Indian hunting grounds convinced the Sioux and Cheyenne that they must fight to keep their land. Back in the States the Civil War raged, creating tensions between Montana’s Northern and Southern emigrants as well as between Southerners who were Confederate Army veterans and those who had avoided military service. It was indeed, the Wild West.

The mining camps of Bannack and Alder Gulch (Virginia City) were dependent on potatoes and flour freighted in from Salt Lake City 400 miles away. The immensely fertile Gallatin Valley was only 60 miles from Virginia City, and it was here in 1863 that John Bozeman conceived the idea of starting a farming community that could supply the miners. Bozeman guided several wagon trains into the area on a trail that shortened the trip by almost two weeks. Over time, it became known as the Bozeman Trail, but after 1864 his energy went into fostering the growth of his town site.

John Bozeman did not fit the typical image of the frontiersman in fringed buckskins. Various contemporaries described him as over six-feet tall, strong, brave, handsome, kind, stalwart, and tireless, with “the looks and ways of a manly man.” He was a Southern gentleman, a well dressed Beau Brummel, and no doubt a heart throb.

He was murdered in 1867, only three years after the establishment of the town of Bozeman. While on a trip with Tom Cover to solicit business for the town’s flour mill, he was shot on the banks of the Yellowstone River. The accepted story has been that he was murdered by Blackfeet Indians, but inconsistencies in the information have over time resulted in a mystery that variously points the finger of blame at Tom Cover (an interesting individual who was himself murdered under mysterious circumstances years later) or at a jealous husband of one of the few women in town.

John Bozeman’s death insured the survival of his town. Fear of Indian attacks led to the establishment in 1867 of Fort Ellis three miles east of the town which provided both protection and a ready market for Bozeman’s farms and merchants. Bozeman’s remains were returned to the town three years later. His friend, fellow Georgian William McKenzie, died in 1913 and is buried next to him.

Nelson Story
b. 1838 in Ohio d. 1926

Ellen Trent Story
b. 1844 in Kansas d. 1924
Nelson and Ellen met and married in Kansas before coming to Bannack and Alder Gulch in 1863. Nineteen-year-old Ellen baked pies and bread to sell to the miners while Nelson operated a store and mined a claim from which he took $40,000 in gold.

It was in Alder Gulch that Story’s famous participation in frontier justice took place. Road agent (robber) George Ives had been charged with murder by an informal judge and jury. A crowd of several thousand spectators gathered as darkness fell. Ives stood on a packing box with a noose around his neck. A rescue party of his friends stood up with their guns, but “quick as thought” Story pulled the box (or kicked it, depending on whose version you hear) out from under Ives and he was hanged.

The Storys decided to settle in Bozeman and Ellen stayed there in 1866 while Nelson went down to Texas to drive his famous herd of 3,000 longhorns and a wagon train up to Montana. Not only did he fight his way through thousands of hostile Indians, but he also had to outwit the U.S. Army who wanted to turn back the expedition for its own safety. Story had to sneak 3,000 longhorns past the troops in the dark. These cattle that were driven into the Gallatin Valley formed the nucleus for Montana’s cattle industry.

Ellen gave birth to seven children. Three sons and one daughter survived. Nelson’s successes in cattle, a flour mill and other business ventures enabled them to build a 17 room mansion in the 1880s. This exquisite building was torn down in 1938. Marble columns from the mansion were salvaged to decorate the family plot.

The Ellen Theatre on Main Street was named for Mrs. Story. Nelson Story was instrumental in bringing Montana State College to Bozeman. Both lived long and productive lives and were major figures in building the Bozeman community.

James D.Chesnut
b. 1834 in Ohio d. 1886
The life of James Chesnut was full of adventure. At the age of 19 he left for the California gold fields by steamer, but the boat exploded, killing 100 people. James escaped with only a slight scald. In San Francisco, after doing well in several merchandising enterprises, the 19-year-old Chesnut joined up with the audacious military adventurer, William Walker.

The prevailing mood of the times was that American civilization had a right and duty to expand itself; the lines between idealism and piracy were blurred. To the Hispanic South there were people to be liberated and great fortunes to be made in silver, gold and cattle ranching. As part of Walker’s illegal Independence Brigade, Chesnut was one of 300 mercenaries to invade and conquer without a shot, the small, sleepy, coastal towns of Western Mexico. Walker proclaimed himself President of the Republic of Lower California and led his ill-equipped army on a rugged march to “liberate” mineral-rich Sonora. The brutal landscape and lack of food took its toll in desertions and death. The group never reached Sonora. All that remained of Walker’s army were 34 men who surrendered at the U.S. border and returned to San Francisco.

A year later, Chesnut chose not to accompany Walker on his next venture, the bloody and successful invasion of Nicaragua, where he made himself President. Instead, Chesnut exchanged all his valuables for $7,000 in gold, and booked passage on a steamer bound for New York. The launch that was taking him to the steamer sank, and while 38 people drowned, Chesnut swam back to shore, hired a diver, retrieved his gold and boarded the steamer in time for departure.

Later, during the Kansas border wars, Chesnut was arrested and jailed for high treason. When the Civil War began, he worked at the unique job of enlisting Indians and blacks for the Union Army. He enlisted a regiment of Delaware Indians and himself commanded a regiment of black troops, achieving the rank of Colonel.

In 1867, he came to Montana and discovered coal in the Rocky Canyon Trail Creek area. For 15 years he developed his coal mining enterprise, benefiting the growth of the community. Chesnut liked to say that the coal in his claim ran all the way down to China, thereby making the famous coal mines of England an infringement on his rights. Coal was welcomed since wood was becoming scarce and high priced. But stove grates were not suited to coal, and the Colonel had difficulty promoting his product. The small town of Chestnut was named for him, however the name was misspelled.

Chesnut owned extensive real estate, including the Chesnut Corner, an elegantly appointed saloon, complete with a reading room and a club room in back. This club room was Bozeman’s nerve center, where its leading male citizens discussed public problems and their genial host encouraged new enterprises for the rapidly growing town. The large upstairs floor was a social center, and in summer the Fort Ellis band played from its balcony on Main street. Although Chesnut was the focus of several romantic stories, he never married.

“Lady” Mary Blackmore
b. in England d. 1872
The sad story of ‘Lady’ Mary Blackmore and her husband William is part of Bozeman’s lore. In 1872 they came from England to visit Yellowstone, stopping in Bozeman on their way because Lady Mary had become suddenly ill. She died of peritonitis at General Lester Willson’s home and was buried on five acres purchased by ‘Lord’ Blackmore and given to the town for use as a cemetery.

Further investigation reveals that ‘Lord’ Blackmore was in fact not a lord, although he did expect to be knighted. It was Emma Willson who started referring to them as ‘Lord’ and ‘Lady.’ William Blackmore was, however, an extraordinary man. He had become quite wealthy working as a middle man between English investors and promoters in the American West. He and Mary lived on an extensive estate where they entertained a dazzling array of guests including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Charlotte Bronte, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and “Mark Twain”. The beautiful Mary was a London social leader and an intimate of Queen Victoria. William had made several trips to the U.S., and from all evidence he loved the West. He had provided generous financial assistance to photographer William Jackson, artist Thomas Moran, and explorer Dr. Ferdinand Hayden. He had a deep interest in anthropology and in Native American life and customs. His fourth trip to the U.S. in 1872 was to check on investments in the Southwest, as well as to join Hayden on his expedition to The Yellowstone. Mary and a nephew accompanied him on this trip, and the couple agreed that if either should die on their travels they would be buried where they died. Dr. Hayden named Mt. Blackmore in Mary’s honor. Looking south from the grave site the mountain’s pyramid-shaped peak can be seen. Hayden also named a newly discovered mineral Blackmorite in William’s honor. In 1878 Blackmore’s American investments brought him to financial ruin. In the library of his estate he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

Henry T.P. Comstock
b. 1820 in Canada d. 1870
Henry Comstock, nicknamed “Old Pancake” was said to have enough badness in him for three men. Lazy and conniving, he was making a meager living in 1859 mining for gold in western Nevada. When two naive Irish immigrants made a strike, Old Pancake showed up, said that the land was his (it wasn’t), and demanded partnerships for himself and a friend if he were to allow the Irishmen to continue digging.

The odd-looking gold that came from the claim was soon discovered to be mostly silver. Comstock was a loudmouth and talked about “his” discovery and “his” claim so much that it became known as the Comstock Lode. The four prospectors sold out to a developer, and Comstock received $11,000 for his share. As was typical of the times, none of the discoverers held onto an interest in the mine that was to become the single greatest mineral strike in history, producing 400 million dollars in precious metals. The developers who took over the claim became phenomenally wealthy; many of the great American fortunes were founded with revenues from the mines in the Comstock Lode. Comstock quickly spent his money. Drifting and demented, he ended up in Bozeman where he lived in a shack just off the east end of Main Street. Dead broke and lonely, he committed suicide by shooting himself.

Monroe “Beaver” Nelson
b. 1861 in Iowa d. 1932

Frank “Doc” Nelson
b. 1867 in Montana d. 1964
Beaver and Doc were two of the seven children of John and Lavine Nelson. The couple came to the Gallatin Valley in 1864, just in time for the arrival of their son Pike, one of the first white children born in the area. Monroe “Beaver” Nelson was a boy at the time, but grew up to become foreman of the Two Dot Willson Cattle Co. Kid Curry of Butch Cassidy’s “Hole in the Wall Gang” and the Logan boys rode under Beaver, as did Charlie Russell, who proclaimed Nelson the most ideal cowboy he had ever known and used him as the subject for many of his paintings.

In 1879, while drinking with two other cowboys at the Headquarters Saloon on Main Street, Beaver was involved in one of Bozeman’s biggest shoot-outs. One of the cowboys drinking with Beaver got into a fight with a local trouble maker, beat him up, and ran him out of the saloon. The trouble maker sneaked back in and shot him in the back. The dying cowboy, Beaver, and the other cowboy all spun around and fired at the trouble maker. The cowboy and the trouble maker both hit the floor dead.

In another incident Beaver and his younger brother Doc witnessed the famous Lewistown shootout in which Rattlesnake Jake and three others were killed. Elsewhere in Montana, Doc was also around when a cowboy got into a gunfight and accidentally shot the local schoolmarm. This made the boys in town so mad that they hanged the cowboy and shot his body full of lead. The schoolmarm survived.

Doc had been a little boy of three when his father took him to see some friends who had just returned from the Rosebud Expedition. One of the men had a bloody mass of fresh Sioux scalps hung on a wire which he whirled through the air at the petrified child. At age 11, Doc helped on a drive of 1,000 head of cattle. At 14 he met 16-year-old Charlie Russell on another cattle drive and for several years the two wrangled for big brother Beaver’s cattle outfit. One morning, Doc and an ornery pony bucked right through the cook’s fire and became the subject of C.M. Russell’s popular painting “Bronc to Breakfast.” This image is engraved on Doc’s tombstone, and Doc is in the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Chester R. “Chet” Huntley
b. 1911 in Montana d. 1974
Chet Huntley was born in the Cardwell Railroad Depot where his father worked as a telegrapher. In 1929, he came to Montana State College to study entomology, later transferring to the University of Washington. After getting a start in radio broadcasting, he went to Los Angeles where he eventually worked for all three television networks—CBS, ABC and NBC. During the nationally televised political conventions of 1956, he was teamed with David Brinkley. The two became a popular news team which lasted until Huntley quit in 1970. The Huntley/Brinkley Report won every major TV news award, including 7 Emmy awards. When Chet Huntley resigned from NBC, he returned to Montana to develop Big Sky, Inc., of Montana, a resort and ski complex in Gallatin Canyon. He died a few years later from lung cancer.

Reprinted with permission from “Who’s Who in the Bozeman Cemetery—A Guide to Historic Gravesites” The Bozarts Press. Copyright 1987 by Anne Garner.

Name that State Trivia

From “Montana Trivia” by Janet Spencer, Riverbend Publishing

Click here to order Montana Trivia book

From “Montana Trivia” by Janet Spencer, Riverbend Publishing


Q. This state is the only state that has more hiking trails than Montana’s 15,000 miles of trails.

A. California.


Q. This state is the only state that has a higher highway fatality rate than Montana.

A. Mississippi. 49% of highway deaths in Montana are due to alcohol.


Q. These two states bordering Montana are the only states that have more pick-up trucks per capita than Montana’s 361 trucks for every 1,000 residents.

A. North and South Dakota.


Q. More tourists come to Montana from this state than any other place.

A. California- followed by Washington and Texas.


Q. This state is the only state that has a higher per capita rate of private airplane ownership than Montana.

A. Alaska.

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Recipe From
The Yellowstone National Park Cookbook

By Durrae Johanek, Riverbend Publishing

Click here to order "The Yellowstone National Park Cookbook" or view other Gift Corral Books

While this Yellowstone cookbook contains an interview of a chef and several of his recipes, it also offers dishes from such well-known park personas as the wolf project leader, a park ranger, and many others. Some recipes are pulled from inherited family cookbooks, and some come with special directions for doctoring according to personal taste. Featuring an eclectic mix of represented styles and cultures, this unique cookbook guarantees you'll find something delicious to make and someone interesting to meet on every page.

Mama Bear's Lasagna

By Carl Sheehan, The Potter at Old Faithful

If you’ve visited Yellowstone and picked up a distinctive piece of pottery, chances are you’re already familiar with Old Faithful Lodge’s resident potter, Carl Sheehan. For years, Carl has created trademark pottery in his studio at the lodge’s gift shop, inspired by Yellowstone’s landscape and its diverse wildlife. Although he frequently works seven days a week during the busy tourist season, Carl still finds time to coach coed softball, dream of a Yellowstone art trust, and cook some amazing meals with his family. If you’re looking for a new lasagna recipe or are simply craving some down-home comfort food, look no further than Carl’s scrumptious “Mama Bear’s Lasagna.”



1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. dried basil
Dash salt
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 / 2 cup dry red wine/cooking sherry
10 to 12 ounces lasagna noodles, cooked
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups ricotta or cottage cheese
1 / 2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. parsley flakes
1 / 2 tsp. salt
1 / 8 tsp. pepper
1 pound part-skim grated mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 375. Brown sausage and beef; drain fat. Add garlic, basil, salt, tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and wine/sherry. Simmer uncovered 30 minutes, stirring often. Beat eggs and add ricotta/cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, parsley flakes, salt, and pepper. Spread small amount of sauce in bottom of 13x9x2 inch pan to prevent sticking. Layer 3 or 4 lasagna noodles, a third of ricotta/cottage cheese mixture, a third of the mozzarella, and a third of the meat sauce. Repeat two more times and top with sprinkle of Parmesan. Bake 30 minutes or until bubbly.

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Featured Books

The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia - Yellowstone Gateway Edition

by Michael Dougherty, Heidi Pfeil-Dougherty and Kristin Hill

Click here for price and order information and to view more Ultimate Press products

Includes complete guide to Yellowstone National Park — Complete information on the Montana gateway area from Virginia City to Red Lodge — 73 maps: highway, city and town, tours, specialty — All restaurants — All Motels — All public campgrounds — All private campgrounds — All Forest Service cabins — Travel and relocation information — Airports — Fishery information — Lewis & Clark points of interest — Public golf courses — Museums and historical sites — Historical information — Hot springs — Hikes — Cross-Country Ski Trails — Downhill ski area information — Scenic drives and sidetrips — Ghost towns — Attractions — Adventure — Hundreds of photographs — Weather information — Information on all cities and towns — Directory of schools, churches, government offices, municipal offices, businesses and more!

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