montana photograph Radersburg
I’ve been doing a lot of driving north out of Three Forks recently, constantly passing this sign on my way up to Helena. So I was thrilled when Montana Quarterly assigned me to follow the sign. Nine miles west of Toston, turns out Radersburg was once a thriving, bustling mining town.
Alan Smith grew up in Radersburg, son of a single father. Smith now owns the cabin his father left him, it’s walls filled with collections his father amassed in the years before his death.
Jackie Smith, 52, runs the cattle ranch she grew up on along the Missouri River just outside Radersburg city limits. “I set my own hours, I get to work outside and I don’t have to deal with too many stupid people,” she says. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Dennis Miller sorts through the meat in one of five freezers on his property. Miller and his wife, Sarah, live in a house Dennis built, and say they raise or hunt nearly everything they eat. On their place, there are turkeys, chickens, goats, milk cows, a greenhouse, a vegetable garden, incubators, and hunting dogs.
The old Radersburg School is the center of community activity. Though recently refurbished, it still bears scars from a 1959 earthquake.
One Saturday every month, current and former Radersburg residents gather at the school for a pot luck lunch and to discuss ways to preserve Radersburg.
One of Radersburg’s youngest residents speeds past a log building said to once have been a hotel in which President Ulysses S. Grant stayed.
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