Sunday, November 8, 2009

Big Skies Are Calling Me

Magnet # 87: Flag, Map of Montana

Material: Acrylic

Purchased By: Greg

Today marks the 120th anniversary of the day Montana became a state in 1889. This came after years of the territory growing following the Louisiana Purchase. Gold and the developing railroad system played major roles in bringing American settlers to the area. The final Native American conflicts, like the Battle of the Little Bighorn, had played out there by that time. By then, quite a few ranchers had settled the land. Changes to the Homesteading act in the early twentieth century would bring many new settlers to the state, often young couples in search of forty acres near the mountains and rivers. Many of their descendants have remained on their land to this day.

Montana is nicknamed "Big Sky Country," and with good reason. It's filled with beautiful, scenic views of mountains and valleys, particularly in areas like Glacier National park and Yellowstone National Park, part of which is located in Montana. It's also the fourth largest state in the Union, and one of the least populated, so it's a good spot to visit if you want a chance of being alone to appreciate large areas of undeveloped nature. Montana was once known as "The Treasure State" because of the wealth of gold, silver, and copper it contained. Nowadays, visitors to the state can stop by some ghost towns left over from when these minerals were mined. There's also another kind of digging going on in the state - unearthing dinosaur fossils. There have been so many finds in the state that there is a Montana Dinosaur Trail with 15 stops and, in some places, tourists can even dig. Another popular tourist destination is the Little Bighorn National Monument, once the site of Custer's famous Last Stand. Those looking for more urban areas can visit growing cities like Billings, Bozeman, and Helena, the state capitol. Whatever tourists choose to do, I don't think there's a lack of options in this state.

It's weird - although I've never been anywhere near Montana, I've kept having brushes with it over the past ten years or so. A former roommate of mine had lived there most of her life and told me tales about the state, including how it takes about three hours to get anywhere there, and all the celebrities she and her family had seen in the state. Apparently, its remote beauty has made it popular with the Hollywood crowd. My friend Lindsay has a cabin in her family that was her grandfather's and talks about taking a trip there every so often. And an old coworker used to say we should head up there in particular, even though she had no connection to the state I knew about. My job even has me working remotely with the state. So just what is it about Montana? I guess I may have to go there someday, as it seems to almost be reaching out to me. But it will have to be during warmer times - I have no interest in spending time in a state that is one of the coldest in the Union during winter. Until then, I'll have to go on other's words on what a majestic place Montana is.

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