Digging up millions of years of Montana
We really dig this story. Get it?
Dinosaur dig revealing insights to Montana 103 million years ago
By Brett French
In a region of Montana known for a 1960s fossil discovery that forever altered paleontologists’ concepts of dinosaurs, Michael D’Emic may have unearthed the bones of three new species — one a mammal, another a crocodile and the third a dinosaur.
“What’s really cool about the site is we’re getting a big picture of the ecosystem,” D’Emic said in a telephone interview from his home in Stony Brook, N.Y., where he teaches anatomical sciences at Stony Brook University. “We’re finding stuff that died in a flood, and a few seasons before, all collected in one area.”
D’Emic is waiting to collect more bones from the specimens before he names or describes the new fossils.
“He doesn’t want to say anything until he knows more,” said Greg Liggett, paleontologist for the Bureau of Land Management in Billings.
In 1964 in the same region of the Bighorn Basin, south of Billings, John Ostrom of Yale University discovered the deadly curved talon of a dinosaur later named deinonychus, or “terrible claw” — a smaller, feathered version of the fierce velociraptors made popular in the movie “Jurassic Park.” Ostrom’s research into the dinosaur’s skeletal structure was the first to relate the animals more closely to birds than lizards and to defy earlier concepts of dinosaurs as slow and stupid.
“It kind of started us on the whole dinosaur revolution of the past 50 years,” Liggett said.
Liggett, who oversees the granting of permits to dig on BLM lands in his region, said the layer of rock D’Emic has targeted to chisel into is not as readily accessible in other parts of the continent.
“I’m working one of the few sites still producing a lot of material, but logistically it’s difficult,” D’Emic said.
Read the rest of the story here
Top Reader Photos: Smoky skies and summer fun
We’ve been seeing more than our fair share of smoky skies across Montana lately.
First: We’re hoping all those firefighters working to contain the wildfire are staying safe. Never can say thanks enough to those folks.
Second: Despite the smoke, we’ve been treated to a bunch of stunning sunsets and sunrises through the smog. You’ll see a shot here of that, thanks to Robin K. Ha’o.
We’ve also got a great set of Top Reader photos to share. Including some rodeo and crystal clear night skies.
Sillver Dollar marks 80 years of family ownership
Here’s a great Montana story out of Missoula.
The Martellos have owned and operated the Silver Dollar Bar there for 80 years.
There’s no one better the Missoulian reporter Kim Briggeman to tell us more about that impressive history:
Family memory doesn’t stretch back far enough to explain why an Italian immigrant and railroad worker opened a bar on Woody Street in late 1935.
Benjamin Martello purchased one of the county’s early liquor licenses after Prohibition and set up shop less than a block from the Northern Pacific tracks, in what’s now a parking lot between the red-brick Brunswick Building and the Missoula Public Defenders building.
It was the last year the Peace Dollar was minted in the U.S. Martello called his new establishment the Silver Dollar Bar.
After World War II, he and son Domenic moved the business across Woody Street and just down the block to 307 W. Railroad St. There the “Dollar” has remained and so have the Martellos.
Ben sold the bar to Domenic in 1960. When Domenic died of a heart attack at age 50 in 1974, ownership went to his wife Mary and their three children.
“We inherited it and my mother said, ‘Why don’t we just sell it?’ ” said Ben Martello, their only son and a Missoula optician at the time. “I said, ‘Let me try it for a while and at least make it to 50 years.’
“That (1985) was my goal then. Now we’ve been here 80. I’ve surpassed my goal.”
Read the rest of the story here.
New book tells the nighttime story of Glacier
Here’s a beautiful story about a photography who captures the best of Glacier National Park – at night:
Glacier Park’s nighttime stories come alive in new photo book
By Rob Chaney
To see Glacier National Park like John Ashley does, you don’t have to be a mountaineer or a tour bus driver.
You just have to stay awake. All night long.
Landscape photographers lecture one another about the “golden hours” around sunrise and sunset, when the sun skims the horizon and alpenglow gleams on the mountain peaks.
Ashley’s biological clock ticks to very different rhythms, like moon cycles and magnetic storm pulses. Any Glacier visitor treasures snapping a photo of a grizzly bear. Ashley holds out for comets.
“The image on the cover is one of Comet Lovejoy,” Ashley said from his home in Kila, where he’s launching the publication of “Glacier National Park After Dark – Sunset to Sunrise in a Beloved Montana Wilderness.” “That comet was only visible during the month of December 2013, and there were only three nights that were something less than 100 percent cloud cover. Those three nights, the temperature was 10 below, 11 below and 21 below zero. I was out all three nights, and I never saw another photographer on any of those nights.”
That could be because a photographer had to linger four hours on the subzero shore of Lake McDonald hoping that a night fog would clear. But then, Comet Lovejoy only passes by once ever 14,011 years.
Numbers and calculations hold considerable sway over Ashley’s art.
He schedules his photo forays by the appearance of meteor showers, the seasonal aspect of constellations, and when those features might line up with park landmarks such as lookout towers, lake valleys or significant mountains.
Read the rest of the story here
Where to get ‘After Dark’
Glacier National Park After Dark: Sunset to Sunrise in a Beloved Montana Wilderness is available directly from author John Ashley through his website,johnashleyfineart.com and wherever Montana natural history books are sold.
Paraglider sets Montana record with 192-mile flight
In a flight that took him further than the distance from Bozeman to Billings, Bozeman paraglider Andy Mcrae – who some say is one of the top paragliders in the world, broke a Montana record.
Mcrae flew 309 kilometers – 192 miles – in his glider. That meant he was up in the air for more than six hours.
Billings Gazette reporter Brett French explains the flight:
Mcrae’s new record was 309 kilometers – 192 miles – set as he climbed and descended many times en route from the west side of the Bridger Mountains near Maudlow to southeast of Hardin. The flight, in a craft that resembles a large parachute fitted with a harness that allows the pilot to sit suspended beneath the canopy, lasted more than 6 hours. At that rate his average speed was more than 30 mph.
“Any time you’re above 300 kilometers, that’s a tremendous flight,” said Huntley Brockie, a former student of Mcrae’s who lives in Big Sky. “Up until about five years ago that distance was unheard of. There’s maybe a dozen guys in the U.S. that could do what Andy did.”
- See video footage from Mcrae’s flight
When Mcrae hit an altitude of 14,500 he was able to cross the Crazy Mountains south of 11,214-foot Crazy Peak and continue east paralleling the Yellowstone River drainage.
“I got into a line of cumulous clouds called a cloud street where there’s rising air,” Mcrae explained. “I followed that up to about 17,000 to 17,500 feet – nice and high. I could glide to Billings from there.”
Landing south of Billings would have broken his old record. But as Mcrae descended past ZooMontana and came to the Yellowstone River, he caught another uplift.
“He had no intention of coming down,” Brockie said.
Twice more Mcrae climbed to more than 12,000 feet as he flew southeast out of Billings toward Pryor and the Crow Reservation and then soared to 14,400 feet just before reaching the Bighorn River near St. Xavier. From there his flight steadily descended, crossing Interstate 90 before finally landing just south of the Custer Battlefield National Monument. He had launched at 1:25 p.m. and extended his flight until about 7:30 p.m.
Read the rest of the story here.
Editor top picks: Features worth reading twice
We’re getting ready to send our fifth issue of 2015 to the printer. That means we’re 5/6 of the way through 2015.
How time flies.
In light of that, I took a moment to look back at all our features for 2015 so far and find a few I hope you haven’t missed – or are worth a second (third, fourth…) read.
To me, the below list represents exactly what we try to accomplish in each issue by telling the authentic story of Montana through the eyes of the people who love it.
- Over the Hill Gang, from the May/June 2015 issue: Meet the members of the longest-running hiking crew in Glacier National park.
- A World Wildlife Experience, from the November/December 2014 issue: Glasgow native Skip Erickson donates wild gift to children’s museum
- Homegrown Guitars, from the March/April 2015 issue: Sean Kochel’s guitars are made from Montana
- Best Pie in the Big Sky, from the May/June 2015 issue: A very sweet installment of our The Last Best Plates series (including a pie slideshow!)
- Woodpecker Men, from the January/February 2015 issue: Ryegate men keep unique tradition alive
More fires spark in Glacier – much of park still open
As crews continue to contain the wildfire that shut down Going-to-the-Sun Road in late July, another set of fires sparked early this week.
Most notably, the Thompson Fire near Nyack and Cold Creek “exploded” to more than 11,000 acres on Tuesday. As you can see from the photos courtesy of Nicholas Parker, it’s a big one.
But, as park officials keep noting, much of the park is open and ready to explore.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Goat Haunt
- Rockwell Falls with the Over the Hill Gang
- Mountain Pine Motel and it’s wonderful neighbors
- Many Glacier Hotel
‘Last Bus to Wisdom’: Montana events planned for release of final Doig novel
We’ve always got a suggestion on which Montana books are worth a read thanks to our book reviewer Doug Mitchell.
Doug reads a lot of books and then picks the ones he thinks you need to know about to feature in his reviews each issue. All his reviews are online here.
Earlier this summer, Doug featured Ivan Doig’s “Sweet Thunder” – including an author Q&A with the man who captured Montana so beautifully throughout his storied literary career.
We’re reviving this post and review in anticipation of the release of Doig’s final novel “Last Bus to Wisdom,” which will be available a week from today.
It was a shock to the state and his fans worldwide when Doig died in April after an eight year battle with cancer.
Just weeks before his death, Doig chatted via phone with Doug, telling him at one point “I’m a full-blown Montanan all the way back to the times of the Anaconda Company domination, and I’m from the ‘other’ Montana; the ranching Montana, the rural Montana, the outback Montana.”
If you haven’t read the entire Q&A, it’s worth a read.
Doig’s words certainly live on in a meaningful way. You can (and should) read his memoriam page.
And if you are around Montana, Washington or California next week, perhaps you can make a reading or celebration event being held for “Last Bus.” Below are the Montana events:
MONTANA BOOK AND TOY COMPANY – 7:00 PM
Off-site at the Lewis & Clark Library
120 South Last Change Gulch Street, Helena, MT 59601
Free & Open to the Public
COUNTRY BOOKSHELF – 7:00 PM
28 W Main Street, Bozeman, MT 59715
Free & Open to the Public
FACT AND FICTION – 5:00 PM
Off-site at Ten Spoon Winery
4175 Rattlesnake Drive, Missoula, MT 59802
Free & Open to the Public