It was a treat to be assigned to do a profile of Roundup, Montana, with writer Jennifer Groneberg for Montana Quarterly magazine’s winter issue. Jennifer lives with her husband, Tom, and their three boys on a ranch outside Roundup so she has a unique perspective on the community.
And community describes Roundup pretty well. This is Dottie, who greets visitors to Carla Gosman’s Bull Mountain Trading Company in downtown Roundup.
Carla has been on both the giving and receiving ends of Roundup’s community spirit. Her store sells gifts and also has a museum in the back.
And the Friends of the Library are central to Jennifer’s community. Rose Emily Blum, left, says, “Most people think of community as the people you run into when you go to town. Ranching expands that definition of community. It’s who you worry about when there’s a flood or a fire. It’s who you call to check up on.”
“The river shapes Roundup,” Blum says of the Musselshell. And the river is a bittersweet neighbor. It flooded in 2011 and again in 2014, submerging crops, businesses and houses, causing more than $10 million in damages in 2011 alone.
The town was originally founded on the spot Tracy’s Mecca Bar and it’s working phone booth now occupy, at the confluence of Half-breed Creek and the Musselshell. Nan Witzel says her mother-in-law, Terry Witzel, is responsible for preserving several of the buildings that date to the old townsite. When coal was discovered nearby and the railroad arrived in 1908, the town moved across the Musselshell to its present location. Now Roundup is the home of about 1,800 people. Many of the old buildings still stand, but they’ve been repurposed for more 21st-century markets.
Drive to Roundup from Billings, 50 miles to the south, and you’ll pass three cemeteries reflecting Roundup’s mining and agricultural heritage. You’ll also pass the Bull Mountain coal mine, still in operation, and plenty of small farms and ranches.
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Many of you may have heard that 40,000 gallons of oil were spilled from a pipeline about 6 miles up the Yellowstone River from the town of Glendive, Mont., way on the eastern edge of our state. Having nothing better to do, I took an 800-mile drive to and from Glendive yesterday to see what I could.
Perhaps 60 miles downstream of the spill, near Crane, Mont., workers setting up some kind of spill containment on the Yellowstone, having to cut through the ice to get at the water. Closer to Glendive, at the Intake dam, game wardens from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks told me they could smell oil coming from the river for the first time after the spill, but had not noticed any visible evidence of contamination.
In town, any of the 6,000 Glendive residents who cared to could receive two gallons of bottled water, per person, per day to use until the city water supply — coming directly out of the river and just a few miles downstream from the spill — was declared safe. The Associated Press reports that water was being tested Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, and hopes were high that it would be once again safe to drink from the taps of Glendive.
Annette Tauscher said she got her two gallons Wednesday as a precaution, since she hadn’t noticed any smell or funny taste from the tap water she and her cat share. “If no one else is drinking the water, then I’d better not,” she said. Other residents in Glendive were on wells and said they were unaffected by the spill.
Still, Bridger Pipeline’s Glendive station, shown here on the western edge of town along the Yellowstone, has a lot of questions to answer. And the Yellowstone, mostly frozen for now as it flows through Glendive, may yet have damage to assess when the thaw comes.
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Kari Swenson has a story many already know: How as a young, promising biathlete in 1984, she was abducted by a father and son who called themselves mountain men and spirited off into the wilderness. How she was rescued only after a man had been killed and she had been shot in the chest, left chained to a tree.
But read Alan Kesselheim’s story in the winter issue of Montana Quarterly, and you’ll find out much more. You’ll read how two years of rehabilitation were necessary for Swenson to return to the top echelon of biathlon. How she’s now a respected veterinarian in the Bozeman, Montana, area. And how she is coaching young prospective biathletes as part of the Bridger Biathlon Club. And much, much more. It’s definitely worth a read.
Sabine Love is one of the members under Swenson’s tutelage.
Swenson leads a group up the Bohart Ranch ski course.
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The recent Winter Solstice found my family and I headed east toward my parents’ home in Chicago.
On the way into Bismarck, we spied the frozen Sweetbriar Lake, upon which several people were standing hunched expectantly over holes in the ice.
I went back to the lake at about sunset and met these guys who had made plans to fish well into one of the longest nights of the year, hoping to hook walleyes.
I hope they had fun. I headed back to the hotel.
Happy Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, Solstice, whatever holiday(s) you choose to be celebrating this time of year. May we all learn to live together in peace, treating each other with kindness and dignity.
That said, our card may need some explanation: Our daughter, Katie, is 16 this year and really loves science — physics in particular. The object she’s pictured with is called a Newton’s cradle and demonstrates the physics principle of conservation of energy. My dad likes to say, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I think that’s pretty much the same idea.
We’ve got one more card to do with Katie. We promised her she would be done when she finishes high school. She’s been a great sport these last 16 years. Thanks, Peanut.
Bozeman was the site for the 2014 International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation’s Ice Climbing World Cup and it was amazing to watch some of the best climbers in the world compete for UIAA World Cup medals.
Perhaps the biggest moment was when American Kendra Stitch won the women’s speed climb event, breaking a long streak of Russian dominance. The events were held in downtown Bozeman, which was ice-free, so climbers worked their way up walls constructed of plywood.
The men’s event was won by Russian Nikolai Kuzovlev.
I have earned my living by making photographs for more than 20 years, mostly for newspapers and magazines. I've authored a few coffee-table books and won my share of awards.
I believe a successful picture is one in which the viewer sees themselves.
The more we see ourselves in other people and in other places, the more we will cherish those people and places. But we must trust the truth we feel.
Truth resonates character. Character resonates truth. When we perceive true character, that generates trust.
Done well, photography speaks universally and authentically, overcoming barriers of language and culture and trust. So I choose photography to share true character of people and places.
I want people to see themselves in the people and places I photograph.
I want people to realize we all have more in common than in conflict.
I've just published a book, Montana: Real Place, Real People. It celebrates the true and authentic people and places writer Al Kesselheim and I have come across in our travels through this wonderful state.
I give a motivational speech called, "Be Who You Is." It's about the authentic, genuine character that I've discovered and been inspired by over the last decade.
My favorite color is orange and I like canoeing, classical trumpet and Nordic skiing. I love farmers and ranchers, even though I grew up in Chicago and I'm allergic to pretty much everything with four legs.