montana photograph Radersburg

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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The old Radersburg School is the center of community activity. Though recently refurbished, it still bears scars from a 1959 earthquake.

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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.

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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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