• Portfolio: A Century of Stories

    Photography of Thomas Lee


    That’s the word photographer Thomas Lee uses to describe the Montana ranching and farming families that have worked their land – year after year, generation after generation – for 10 decades or more.

    Lee, who has traveled Montana for more than 20 years making images from across the state, looks at it this way: “To stick with something for six weeks is said to be all that’s needed to form a habit,” Lee said. “These days, to have a job for 10 years is something of an achievement. To spend an entire lifetime on something is remarkable, and to spend multiple lifetimes in dogged determination is downright admirable.”

    Consider this, Lee continued, Montana has been a state for 125 years this November. It was named a territory just a generation earlier. People have been ranching and farming this country for about as long, but we all know that times and ideas change, evolve. “New generations are born with their own ambitions,” Lee said. “When a ranch or farm stays in one family over a span of 10 decades or more, it’s to be celebrated.”

    It’s in that spirit that Lee presents the images of three Montana families that have earned special Montana Historical Society recognition through the organization’s Montana Centennial Farm and Ranch Program.

    Out of 28 families honored so far, Lee found that the Armstrongs, the Mercers and the Bangs prove that a century spent on the same patch of ground will always yield its share of stories.


    To view the entire Montana centennial ranches photo portfolio, find this issue on newsstands now. To read more about Montana all year, subscribe now.

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