12 Signs You’re in Eastern Montana

As you probably know, the mentality and culture of Eastern Montana is far different from that of Western Montana. Some might even say the two regions should be different states…but that’s another story for another day. If you ever get lost in The Last Best Place, here are 12 signs you might be anywhere East of Bozeman.

1. The vehicle of choice is a nice big diesel truck

trucks

Ford F-250 to be exact.

2. The most popular hair style is the Snooki bump (even before Snooki made it popular)

Hair bump

Pretty sure Snooki should be throwing some props to Montana for her signature style.

3. You’re fashionable if you wear a camo coat, Wranglers, a plaid shirt, baseball cap, and Oakley shades. #RedneckSelfie anyone?

Redneck Selfie

The best part is that I wrote the description before I found the photo. The Duck Dynasty poster in the background is just an added bonus.  Classic!

4. You’re still expecting more snow and cold weather in April

April Snow

Ya know that meme of Montana getting all 4 seasons in one day? Yeah, this is an example of that.

5. You start chewing tobacco at the ripe age of 13

Chew

Isn’t that SO cute?!

6. Getting an MIP is a normal part of high school

Jack Daniels

Seriously, the police should just write you a ticket as you enter your first day of high school.

7. It’s perfectly common to leave your cars running and unlocked at the grocery store during winter

Parking lot

…you probably even know which car belongs to who!

8. Your morning latte costs at least $5, and you can only get it at 2 locations in town

The latte art is seriously pushing it over here.

9. You pick up a Scandinavian accent while visiting

Every. Single. Time.  It’s like you’re living out the movie Fargo.

10. Local Lutefisk dinners are the most popular events of the year

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Lutefisk Dinner

Yummmmm. Who doesn’t love lye-soaked fish that’s been boiled and smothered in melted butter?

11. You can count on two hands the number of businesses in your town

Circle Main Street

Okay, it might only take one hand. (Actual Main Street in Circle, MT)

12. Your idea of a fancy date is going to your local café for spaghetti and meatballs… and you might even wear your nice Carhartt jeans!

Carhartt

Srsly.

13. BONUS: You can visit North America’s smallest TV/radio station (KXGN)

KXGN

TV channel 5 or 1400 AM on the radio dial (’cause we’re still reppin’ the AM frequency). Total market: ~5,000

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Dog Balances Montana’s Greatness on His Head

We all love Montana for one reason or another. This is Bear he was born and raised in Montana, Bear loves everything about Montana, but most of all he loves balancing his favorite things about Montana on his head.

 Fishing:

Montana is known for it’s amazing fishing and has built local cultures around the fishing lifestyle. Whether it is tossing a line out of a boat on Canyon Ferry or wading out up to your giblets rippin’ lip on the in the waters of Madison River , Montana is truly a fisherman’s paradise.

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Beer:

Montanans love their beer more than most and Bear is no exception. The atmosphere of a Montana brewery is often hard to beat, not to mention you can bring your dog, and what is not to love about dogs and beer?

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Rivers:

Montana’s rivers and lakes provide endless opportunity for adventures. Especially when all the snow melts and the whitewater rafting and kayaking begins, and if that is not your cup of tea, floating in the old inner tube is a Montana pastime and a sure way to have a good time.Bear hasn’t quite mastered the kayak yet but he does pretty good for not having thumbs.

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Wildlife:

There are few places that offer the scenery and wildlife of Montana, which often can be discovered just minutes out of town. With Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, Montana is a sure to provide unrivaled experiences and memories. The wildlife in Montana is hard to find anywhere else and just like any Montanan, Bear loves it all Except cats, Bear hates cats. (and yes this isn’t technically balancing, but a goose on a dogs head is pretty great)

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Good People:

There is a reason people love Montanans…we rock. Ok yes, every village has a an idiot or two but Montanans are truly the kindest, most unselfish bunch of hippies, yuppies, hillbillies, and misfits one could cram into one great state. Bear especially loves the Montana girls in boots.

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Hunting:

If a great buck or bull is what you’re after Montana is the place to go.Trophy animals grow in Montana faster than our hatred for Justin Beiber.

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Class:

We Montanans are not only a kind and unselfish bunch, but were classy too. Whether is red solo cup wine glasses, daisy dukes on men, Hoagieville stains on our sweatpants, or the ever present “Montana” musk of a downtown bar, Montana knows how to keep it classy.

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The Mystery of the UM Pumpkin Man

University of Montana Main Hall Pumpkin Man

 

UM_pumpkin

You may already know about the elusive University of Montana clock tower pumpkin that appears every year. If you’re not familiar, here’s the scoop: every year since students can remember, someone (or something) waits until Halloween comes around so they (or it) can put a pumpkin on top of The University of Montana’s Main Hall clock tower. The pumpkin is somehow pierced through the needle at the highest point of the clock tower, like an olive through a toothpick.

There have only been two public sources of someone interacting with the party responsible for this amazing feat, which I know of. Jesse Spaulding’s 2010 documentary on the subject showed him speaking with an individual that claimed to be “the pumpkin man,” but the truth is yet to be known (pictured below). The other instance was in 2004 when one of these crafty pranksters was apparently arrested.

Jesse Spaulding Pumpkin Man3 years ago, I had the privilege of meeting someone that was responsible for this tradition. It was a slightly brisk spring night on the oval when we met. Some friends and I sat on the grass after playing ultimate Frisbee with some people we just met, as easily as it is to do in Missoula. I struck up a conversation with one of the new players, Pete, and we started talking about how we got to the University of Montana. After a few minutes we then started talking about what outdoor sports Missoula was really good for. Pete (his name has been changed for the sake of this story) began to go into his passion for climbing, and had tons of intense stories from all kinds of climates. Ice climbing, bouldering, mountaineering, he was on a level that my once in a while climbing attempt at The Rec Center just couldn’t touch.

Since we were on The Oval, I randomly thought of the infamous pumpkin tradition on the Main Hall clock tower. How did someone manage to climb up there? At that point I’d been going to school for a few years to realize that the pumpkin prank was a recurring event. Unexpectedly, Pete started talking about how it could be done, and exactly how he thinks the pumpkin reached such heights. He skirted around the subject a little bit but then began explaining in detail how these pumpkin ninjas manage to climb up that high successfully every year. I think he knew that I was catching on. Nobody close by could hear our conversation, and so he asked if I wouldn’t spread around the information he revealed to me. He then explained in detail about how he was once apart of the secret rotating team of expert climbers that helped continue this mysterious tradition. 

I didn’t know any of them before someone tapped my shoulder by the Rec Center climbing wall. This guy just came up and asked if I wanted to be apart of a cool project that him and some friends were working on, and my skills were needed. The next thing I knew, I’m being told all about how this crazy Halloween tradition is done every year. And for some reason I was attracted to the idea.”

It was hard to believe what I was hearing. It sounded like something from The Skulls the way he described it. Were these people just another secret society that fit right in with all the other ones in American history? Pete then elaborated on the details of how their system worked, year after year:

“It worked like this, every year: One year someone in the group is the main climber, the one in charge of actually putting the pumpkin on top of the clock tower. Someone else belay’s the one climbing up to make sure that if they fall they’re going to be ok. The next year the previous person that was climbing rotates out and a new person is put into the rotation as the one that belays. Others in the group watch for security and make sure the perfect time is picked to avoid security. The people involved are constantly changing.”

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“My first year doing it as the climber, it was unbelievable. The most surreal memory was actually climbing up the clock face on Main hall. It felt just like that scene in Peter Pan. I had my legs on the minute hand, while trying to get a grip on the ledge above with the help of the hour hand that was then pointed straight up at 12. This just happened to be the time that we picked, its not always happening when the hour hand is at 12, or even on Halloween. “

This is most of what I can remember from my conversation with Pete, and I’m pretty astonished that he even told me this much. I really only believed him because of how much detail he was able to go into. I don’t think I’ve seen him since, but then again he’s probably passed the pumpkin torch down to another expert climber to further this unique tradition at The University of Montana.

Montana is weird. Here are 10 reasons why.

Montana is a one of a kind state. Most of Montana is accustom to “Arctic Vortexes” and extreme temperatures, it’s nothing new for Montanans.  Wildlife is abundant in Montana, with the largest migratory elk populations in the nation, its normal to see herds of the animals grazing on mountainsides. Most people have heard of the book Huckleberry Finn, but did you know that huckleberries are really edible berries and grow wild in Montana? Who know that there is such a thing as the world’s shortest river? We all know there were famous California gold rushes, but Montana also rushed out $32 million gold and silver in the 1800’s. International mountains and glaciers attract numerous visitors every year to Glacier National Park. The  majestic American Buffalo roams free in Montana as well as national preserved on the National Bison Range located on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Montana’s steamy, geothermic pools and geysers in Yellowstone National Park and attract many visitors every year. Have you ever thought about playing a game of golf with with a Frisbee and your dog? Montanans play this crazy game during the warmer months of the year. One more weird thing about Montana is possibility that the Swan Princess could have found her home in the south portion of the state. With all the weird things about Montana, this state is definitely a unique and one of a kind state.

It is Really Cold

Rogers Pass

With recent Arctic Vortexes rocking the nation, Montana is no stranger to the subzero temperatures. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Montana was a blistering -70, which occurred at Rogers Pass on January 20th, 1954.

Elk in Huge Numbers

Elk Beding Down

The largest migratory elk population within the northwest region of the country find their home within Montana. In between 15,000 to 20,000 elk migrate through Yellowstone National Park into the heart of the Northern Rocky Mountains in Montana every winter.

Wild About Berries

Huckleberries
One delicious, seasonal treat that grows wild in the Montana Rocky Mountains is the huckleberry. These delicious wild berries are cannot be farmed, due to the specific elevation needed for them to grow. Huckleberries are best harvested between the months of June and mid-September. Montana is the home of one of the only huckleberry businesses in the United States.

One Short River

Roe River

Did you know that there is such a thing as the world’s shortest river? The Roe River is only 201 feet in length and flows from Giant Springs to the Missouri River. The Roe River is located near Great Falls, Montana and has a foot bridge that stretches over it for easy viewing purposes.

 

Gold Rush Montana

Montana Mining Ghosttown
The famous ghost town of Elkhorn, Montana has a elevation that is over a mile high and started mining in 1872. Elkhorn mined $32 million in gold and silver. With the old 19th century buildings and mining town setting, this ghost town is a wonderful tourist attraction during the summer months.

 

International Glaciers

McDonald Lake, Glacier Nat. Park Info.
Glacier National Park in the northwestern part of Montana is the largest national park within the state with 1,583 square miles. The park stretches across the United States border into Canada, which makes it an international park. Glacier National Park is home to 68 different animal species and 277 documented bird species. Montana’s Glacier National Park has over a million national and international visitors every ten years and generates abundant amounts of revenue every year for the state .

Saving America’s Buffalo

Montana Bison

The American Buffalo were nearly driven to extinction in the late 1800’s. However, Montana ranchers worked together to preserve these magnificent creatures. Today, the National Bison Range on the Flathead Indian Reservation has about 350 head of bison, not counting the new babies that are born every year. Wild herds of buffalo roam the mountains near Yellowstone National Park and one of Montana’s slogans is “let the buffalo roam”. Montana has saved one of America’s most beautiful and astonishing animals from extinction and will continue to do so.

 

Steamy, Geothermic Goodness

(My Photo)Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone Info.
Montana’s other well-known and frequently visited national parks is Yellowstone. With the world’s largest array of geysers and geothermic pools, Yellowstone attracts numerous national and international tourist every year. At sunrise, the stream spools off the geothermic waters, spilling over the edges of Mammoth Hot Springs. It’s really a steamy show.

 

Crazy Games and Crazy Laws

Folfing Law

Montana has some very interesting laws, one of which states that the game of “Folf” cannot be played at nighttime. If you don’t know the game of “folf” is, it’s a mixture of the games Golf and Frisbee. Many Montanans play this game with a cooler of beer and man’s best friend, their dogs. However, Montana had to develop a law for this regulating this game. Montana State Ordinance 2797, 6-23-1997, states the following; ” 5-13-2: Folfing Prohibited. No person shall play or engage in the game of folf or throw a golf disc at nighttime in any area within the business improvement district that has not been sanctioned as a designated folf course by the city.”

 

Home of the Swan Princess

Trumpeter Swans

Large populations of Trumpeter Swans find their homes in Montana. With the largest population of trumpeter swans in the south portion of the state, Montana holds the largest majority of the species in the northwest region of the country. Trumpeter Swans actively bred in Montana and migrate to and from the state seasonally. Montana could be the original home of the Swan Princess.