Roundup, Montana, editorial work for Montana Quarterly

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.

Montana Editorial Photographer Roundup04

And community describes Roundup pretty well. This is Dottie, who greets visitors to Carla Gosman’s Bull Mountain Trading Company in downtown Roundup.

Montana Editorial Photographer Roundup05

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.

Montana Editorial Photographer Roundup03

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.”

Montana Editorial Photographer Roundup02

“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.

Montana Editorial Photographer Roundup07

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.

Montana Editorial Photographer Roundup08


Montana Editorial Photographer Roundup06

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.

Montana Editorial Photographer Roundup01


#montanaphotographer #editorialphotographer #roundupmontana #ruralphotograph


Montana Winter Storm Horses

Killing time during my daughter’s cello lesson not long ago, I found some horses enjoying an early-winter snowfall. A magical place, this Bozeman.

Montana Fine Art Photographer Horses Snow Bozeman04

Montana Fine Art Photographer Horses Snow Bozeman02

Montana Fine Art Photographer Horses Snow Bozeman01


#Montanaphotographer #BozemanMontana #Horses #Winter #Snowfall

Glendive, Montana, Oil Spill

Montana Photographer Glendive Oil Spill06

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.

Montana Photographer Glendive Oil Spill07

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.

Montana Photographer Glendive Oil Spill04

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.

Montana Photographer Glendive Oil Spill05

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.

Montana Photographer Glendive Oil Spill02

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.

Montana Photographer Glendive Oil Spill03


#MontanaPhotographer #GlendiveOilspill #MontanaNews


Bozeman, Montana, biathletes


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.


#Montanaphotographer #Biathlonphoto #Montanawinter


Bismarck, North Dakota, Winter Solstice Fishing


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.


Best wishes


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.

Best in the world


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.




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 445 other followers