Lilacs in the Woods? Clues to a Vanished Homestead

This lilac bush turned a family hike through the woods into a find-the-clues game of discovery. Lilacs are not native to Montana. If you find one growing in the wild you can be sure it was put there, on purpose. Perhaps by a long-ago homesteader who planted it outside a home that’s since vanished? What stories lie behind it? Not far away we found a few paving stones. And then the remainders of a foundation wall. And then apple trees. … Read More

Smokejumpers Celebrate 75 Years

Seventy-five years ago this month Earl Cooley and Rufus Robinson parachuted onto an Idaho wildfire, put it out, and then hiked 28 miles to the nearest ranger station. It was the U.S. Forest Service’s first “live” jump. Today more than 270 smokejumpers respond to fires in remote areas, relying on tools, food and water that are dropped to them by parachute.  Without their hard work—in the field and at their home bases, training, maintaining equipment, getting ready for the next jump—far … Read More