Page 1

Spring 2009

rebirth on the northside the stensrud building’s fresh lease on life

from 90210 to 59801

driven wild

one step at a time

native to missoula

a missoula lawyer’s wild ride

mayor engen’s skinny story

a photographer’s journal from the road

dedicating space to contemporary native art

letter from the editor

bookmark it!


irst come the brave little foot soldiers, a full month before they should: Calves licked clean by practiced moms, optimistic ants on sunny slopes, a single buttercup. “Spring is coming,” they shiver before taking cover in barns and underground burrows. It is still February – icy, wind-blasted February – when the first chickadees call from the backyard bramble. Then come the robins, hopping between the snowbanks. And finally, sometime early in March, a postal carrier in shorts. Spring does not arrive in Missoula with the wished-for warm and breezy days, the late naturalist Kim Williams once observed. Spring is stormy; spring is wind, rain, snow and ice. You’ve just got to get out there and make the best of it. Which is why, no doubt, Missoula takes such delight in the signs of spring: A big V of geese flying over Mount Jumbo, the smell of skunk early in the morning, baby leaves uncurling on currant bushes and cottonwood trees. And why we here at magazine had such fun assembling our spring edition. Our cover story, in fact, is the quintessential story of spring: the rebirth of the Stensrud Building on Missoula’s Northside. From a dilapidated “pigeon house” of a building, architect/renovator Mark Kersting has created a beauty on North First Street – a treasure by which all others in the neighborhood are now measured. Then, too, we have Missoulian photography editor Kurt Wilson’s tribute to our wild neighbors, so many of whom return from winter’s dens and destinations this time of year. And Missoula chef Greg Patent’s tribute to springtime vegetables. And Missoulian sports editor Bob Meseroll’s ode to the flies that lure trout from spring waters. Just for fun, you’ll want to read Missoulian reporter Vince Devlin’s profile of Morgan Modine, the Missoula attorney who gained fame two decades ago by advertising his services on everything from billboards to matchbook covers. Less known – but no less colorful – is the story of his growing-up years at Hollywood High School and as a struggling actor. In between, we’ve got a fresh crop of spring books by local and regional writers, the story of Missoula Mayor John Engen’s “rebirth” as a smaller and more active person, a visit to the Missoula Art Museum’s Lynda Frost Gallery of Contemporary Native American Art and a look at the springtime fashions sprouting in the windows of several downtown boutiques. Spring is here in all its blustery splendor. I hope you’ll join us for the celebration: Summer is on the way!

Go online to throughout the spring for:

tiptoe through the trillium! Join Justin Grigg online and discover the wildflowers blooming on Missoula’s hills this spring. His blog is an interactive guidebook ,

sing and dance the season away! Joe Nickell keeps you in the know and on the go via his arts and entertainment blog, Nickellbag. com, and at

sip a bit of spring! And Kate Murphy will treat you to the loveliest wines for all those special occasions in the months ahead: Easter, graduation, Memorial Day, the summer solstice and the start of vacation season. Find her at

and just in case things go awry… Tristan Scott has the latest on crime and punishment in Missoula on his blog,, including Twitter feeds from inside the courtroom at the W.R. Grace environmental crimes trial and a weekly interactive crime map.

living, working, visiting! Each week, brings you a fresh crop of feature stories, photos, videos and slideshows celebrating the lives, work and pastimes of our family and friends in western Montana. magazine is is the the flagship flagship magazine magazine of the missoulian newspaper of the missoulian newspaper

publisher john vanstrydonck publisher stacey mueller sales & marketing director editor sherry devlin jim mcgowan art director murphy editorkate sherry devlin assistantart art director director mike kate lake murphy editor kurt wilson assistantphoto art director mike lake photodirector editorkristen kurt wilson advertising bounds online director jim mcgowan

writers timakimoff akimoff writers tim kim betsybriggeman cohen vinceflorio devlin gwen lori grannis daryl gadbow gwen florio lori grannis bob meseroll michael jamison kate murphy bob meseroll greg patent michael moore jodi rave kate murphy keila szpaller joe nickelltheroux barbara

greg patent jodi rave

photographers tom bauer michael gallacher linda thompson bauer photographers tom kurt wilson michael gallacher linda thompson

graphic design kurt diann kelly wilson megan richter chris kelly sawicki graphic design diann youa meganvang richter chris sawicki youa vang 406-523-5271

advertising sales jacque walawander

advertisingAvailable sales jacque walawander distribution in more than 160 racks in western magazine is a natural 523-5271 Montana, extension for people who read and rely on the Missoulian newspaper. Reaching 80,000 to 90,000 readers daily, long been .recognized as the most in-depth source the Missoulian has distribution Available in more than 160 thorough, racks in western Montana, of news in western magazine takes this magazineMontana. is a extension for people who read and relyaward-winning on the coveragenewspaper. another step, showing off tothe very best of daily, Missoula in wordshas andlong Missoulian Reaching 80,000 90,000 readers the Missoulian photographs. Bythe capitalizing on thein-depth Missoulian’s throughout the region been recognized as most thorough, source presence of news in western Montana. and utilizingmagazine its established chain of distribution, magazine and takes this award-winning coverage another step, showing off Web site reachand more readers inBy more placeson than other such the very best of Missoula in words photographs. capitalizing the any Missoulian’s publication in western Montana. presence throughout the region and utilizing its established chain of distribution, Missoula.

com magazine and Web site reach more readers in more places than any No such part of the publication may be reprinted without permission. other publication in western Montana.

©2009 Lee Enterprises, all rights reserved. Printed in the USA.

No part of the publication may be reprinted without permission. ©2007 Lee Enterprises, all rights reserved. Printed in the USA.

on the cover:

on Mark the Kersting cover: has spent most of his life restoring the architectural

Ryan treasures Springer of our pedals past.along Missoula’s the Clark Stensrud Fork River Building with is a delivery a glowing of example LeofPetit his work. Outre breads bound for downtown Missoula restaurants. magazine

cover photo photoby bylinda michael thompson gallacher

vol.3 no.2

inside this issue

contents spring 2009 He filled three 40-yard Dumpsters full of trash from the building. Friends filled another four as Kersting worried his banker would visit and decline to back the restoration with words like this: “Are you out of your mind? This place is fully dilapidated. It’s a pigeon house.� page 24








in season

all year long

24 30 36 42 46 50 54

9 10 12 14 16 20 64 68 74

stensrud reborn remembering the bonner mill home on the ranch one step at a time a different stage native missoula driven wild: a photo journal magazine

the way we were fashion buzz know your vino and your beer missoula cooks western montana getaway book mark flybox parting shot

the way we were

1930 pony up Marjorie Ellen Hoepfner stands with her pony, Robin, and another horse in the early 1930s on the Wineglass Ranch, owned by the Hoepfners near Helmville.

photo courtesy of Bridget Wanderer magazine

flirtatious spring

THREADS photographs by michael gallacher



1. Coco Atelier: Diane von Furstenberg navy striped silk dress, $350. 2. Nolita: Velvet cotton and lycra draped dress, $129. Brochu Walker cotton cocoon sweater, $354. Hagar Satat beaded hemp necklace, $120. 3. Coco Atelier: Diane von Furstenberg cotton printed dress with cutout belt, $368. 4. MkLaren: Rebecca Taylor leopard-print dress, $189. Twill 22 cropped cotton jacket, color Earth (brown) $149. White Erge Scarf $29.

10 magazine



5. Coco Atelier: Francesco Biascia orange tote, $565. Trina Turk multi silk print tank, $218. Bishop denim jean, $272. 6. Nolita: 32 Flavors Modal Race slub tank, $72. Velvet cotton and lycra top, $38. Current/Elloitt destroyed skinny jean, $216. Claudia Labao Circle of Life necklace, $105. Tylie Malibu patent leather messenger bag, $562 (sale price $394)





7. C  oco Atelier: Susana Monaco cream crossback halter with detachable flower, $188. Susana Monaco cream shrunken baseball cardigan, $236. Theory denim spring trouser $246 8. Coco Atelier: Sanctuary ruffle denim jacket, $182. Theory brown short sleeve turtleneck, $72. Billy Blues khaki roll-crop cargo, $176. 9. MkLaren: Erge tunic/dress, color: Pearl (cream with black and grey accents) $89. Twill 22 twill motorcycle jacket, black, $199. Frye boots, Campus, $279.







10. Coco Atelier: Trina Turk long silk print halter dress, $398. 11. MkLaren: Juicy Couture terry suit, color: blue, top $98, pants $118. Juicy Couture terry dress, color: sweet pea (light pink), $118. Prayer scarf, $38. 12. MkLaren: Frye boots, Carson pull-on, $328. 13: MkLaren: Juicy Couture long terry beach dress, color: Puddle, $168. Echo scarf, color: blue paisley, $38. magazine


know your vino

the answer is simple: wine club by kate murphy photos by linda thompson

Start a wine club: Nothing contributes more significantly to your wine experience than tasting. It’s kind of like learning to dance; it’s helpful to know the popular styles of dance, but to become proficient there’s no substitute for practice. A wine club is the perfect way to practice and exercise your senses, while sharing opinions that shape and strengthen each individual’s appreciation.

12 magazine


feel as though I am meeting more and more people who, as they drink their wine, want to better understand it, whether that entails knowing more about the grape, the region, the vintage or the winemaker. I’ve also noticed that our retail stores and restaurants are offering more thoughtful selections from around the world, hoping to enhance wine experiences. So how do you become more knowledgeable and make the best choices with so many different types of wines from which to choose? My answer is simple: wine club. In all my years of tasting, traveling and research, little has proved more valuable than coming together with a group of friends and meeting as a wine club. The concept is similar to that of a book club. Sure, you can enjoy a novel on your own. But getting together with a group of people to discuss that book can enhance your appreciation and understanding of the story. A wine club works exactly the same way. Nothing contributes more significantly to your wine experience than tasting. It’s kind of like learning to dance; it’s helpful to know the popular styles of dance, but to become proficient there’s no substitute

for practice. A wine club is the perfect way to practice and exercise your senses, while sharing opinions that shape and strengthen each individual’s appreciation. It is also a great way to experience the different styles of wine without having to pay for them all on your own, since everyone contributes to the pot. (What I’ve found most interesting – and surprising – is that in most cases, the most expensive bottle is not the best wine. Believe me when I say this is a painful lesson I have had to learn several times.) Furthermore, a wine club will also help you grow out of your comfort zone by experiencing varietals or regions you might not have tried for one reason or another – possibly a lack of knowledge or being intimidated, or because you didn’t like the label – shame on you!


ere are some guidelines that will help you organize a wine club that is not only fun, but educational. Select a leader to get things going and plan the meetings. Having someone in charge will help keep the meetings organized, focused and continuous. This person, however, should be open to the ideas of club members to ensure everyone is inspired and learning. Organize your members. Not every member has to be a wine expert, just a wine enthusiast. Generally speaking, eight to 12 is considered the optimum number of members. This size of group is large enough to promote spontaneous interaction and small enough to be manageable. This is also an opportunity to grow your social circle, so think about inviting new friends outside your immediate circle. Also, remember that once the wine flows, voices tend to get louder, which can make it more difficult to focus on the purpose of wine club if you have too many members.

Choose a date and time for the get-together. My suggestion is once a

month, keeping in mind that even this can seem frequent. Also, if possible, hold meetings at the same time on the same day each month. This will help members plan ahead. If most club members cannot make it, consider changing the date. However, you will have instances when there are schedule conflicts and not everyone can be there. More wine for you! Pick a site for the tasting. You may have one place where you meet monthly that is conducive to your needs. However, a good alternative is to rotate houses, having each member host a meeting at his or her home. This way, one person isn’t stuck with all the cleanup every month. Regardless, it

continued on page 71 magazine


and your beer

Pamela Kaye, co-owner of Stevensville’s new Blacksmith Brewing Co., held a branding party shortly after opening the tasting room and invited area ranchers to burn their brands into the rustic furniture.

old roots, new brew by timothy alex akimoff photos by kurt wilson

14 magazine


TEVENSVILLE – Montana breweries have come of age in the past 15 years. Now they’re giving birth to the next generation. This spring, we honor the birth of Montana’s newest brewery. Situated in the state’s oldest established community, Blacksmith Brewing Co. has a sweeping view of the Bitterroot Mountains from its Main Street location in Stevensville.

Brewer Mike Howard started his selection of beer with a light product he calls Brickhouse Blonde. Though it looks older than its age, Blacksmith Brewing Co. was born in an old, run-down smithy in October 2008. “I saw this dumpy building and everybody thought I was crazy, because the place was a pit,” co-owner Pamela Kaye said. Incidentally, Kaye found her love of craft breweries and her inspiration at Bitter Root Brewing in Hamilton, where she worked for seven years. In the dust and debris of 100 years of history, Kaye saw something special for the community. “I just saw a need for it here in Stevensville,” Kaye said. “A good clean place, good people, good conversation, the community thing.” Being an artist and visualizing the old smithy turned into a modern tap room that pays homage to its historical roots, Kaye needed someone to build her dream and someone to brew up the elixir that would bring people in. “It took an artist, a builder and a brewer,” Kaye said. “It took all three of us.” The builder is Eric Hayes, an area contractor with a knack for restoration work. The brewer, Mike Howard, is a product of Big Sky Brewing Co., which gives Blacksmith Brewing Co. a great pedigree in the world of Montana craft breweries.


alk into the wood-and-iron interior with the hundreds of old brands burned into weathered wood, and get a view of the Bitterroot Valley in another era. Kaye hosted a branding party, where hundreds of ranchers old and new brought out their symbols of ownership and adorned the walls of the brewery. Howard, in the way of a smart brewer, introduced the town of Stevensville to

craft brew starting with a beer he calls Brickhouse Blonde. It’s light, and it isn’t a far cry from the more familiar beers available in area grocery stores – though it is a lot more flavorful. “It’s funny, because I told Mike to brew a light beer,” Kaye said. “You have to train the public to taste and to learn what they like. Once you get them in the door, you can say, here, try this amber, and they do, and pretty soon they’re drinking the porters.” Today, locals line up at the bar and at tables and enjoy a range of craft brews, from strong porters to a dark Black Iron IPA. “They’re just coming out of the woodwork to have a place to go,” Kaye said. “People want the community stuff, they want to come out and visit.” Kaye’s excitement at co-owning a brewery is evident in her behind-the-bar demeanor, which is a combination of waitress, best friend, mom and confident small business owner. When she received a call from the state Liquor Control Division that her license was ready, she had them fax it so she could open by 4 p.m. on a Friday last October. “I had no glasswear, so I went and bought four cases of Mason jars,” Kaye said. “I only had two beers, but I turned that little open sign around and people just showed up.” Tim Akimoff is an online reporter and videographer for the Missoulian and Join the conversation about craft beers at his blog, Kurt Wilson is the Missoulian’s photography and multimedia editor. He can be reached at (406) 523-5244 or at magazine


missoula cooks

flavors of spring: spinach and radishes by greg patent photos by tom bauer

Many different radish varieties exist, but the bright red globe-shaped ones are the most common here, and – surprise! – they are delicious cooked.

16 magazine

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche, recipe on page 18.

Let us be your framing experts.


lthough vegetables in general are great sources of nutrition – we all know they’re packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants – I focus on their taste rather than their touted health benefits. Spinach, for example, is loaded with lutein, which is good for our eyes, and good to know, but this isn’t why we eat spinach, is it? We eat it because, raw or cooked, it tastes good. Buttered spinach, spinach quiche, wilted spinach salads – all are standards of American cookery. Mushrooms elevate spinach to a new level of taste because mushrooms are the source of umami, the so-called fifth taste that contributes meaty flavors to foods. In the quiche here, cheese also adds a level of umami. The result is a main dish to satisfy just about everybody. Another spring vegetable, one we all know but in most cases don’t know what to do with, except to munch it raw, is the radish. Many different radish varieties exist, but the bright red globe-shaped ones are the most common here, and – surprise! – they are delicious cooked. A peppery raw radish becomes sweet when cooked and pairs well with cream sauces, dill, chives, or just about any herb. The Creamed Radishes are a revelation, and once you discover how good a cooked radish can be, you may make this dish a regular part of your repertoire. Greg Patent is a food writer and columnist for the Missoulian and Magazine. He also co-hosts a weekly show about food with Jon Jackson on KUFM Sundays at 11:50 a.m. His cookbook, “A Baker’s Odyssey,” was nominated for a 2008 James Beard Award and won the Cordon d’Or Academy Award. His brand new cookbook, “Montana Cooking,” celebrates the foods of our state. Visit Greg’s Web site at You can write to him at Tom Bauer is a photographer for the Missoulian. Reach him at (406) 523-5270 or by e-mail at

123 South Ave • 728-5500





ind the Good Choices “sunower” in the Good Food Store aisles and discover budget-friendly prices on the organic and natural favorites you always want, and need, to have in the cupboard – top brand everyday staples that now are more affordable than ever. So make Good Choices. You’ll savor the quality. And pocket real savings. | 1600 S. 3rd St. West | 541-FOOD magazine


spinach and mushroom quiche


his quiche celebrates some of spring’s freshest flavors, spinach and mushrooms. The crust, made in part with whole wheat flour, adds a nutty complement to the cheese. You can bake the crust the day before and keep it covered at room temperature. The spinach-and-mushroom filling may also be made a day ahead and refrigerated. When you want to serve the quiche, make the custard, fill the quiche, and bake. You’ll have dinner on the table in less than an hour. Serve with the Creamed Radishes.


or the pastry, measure the flours by scooping dry measuring cups into the flour containers, filling them to overflowing, and sweeping off the excess with a narrow metal spatula or straight edge. To make the pastry in a food processor, put the metal blade into the work bowl and add all the flours and salt. Process 5 seconds. Add the vegetable shortening and process 5 seconds. Add the butter and pulse four times for 1 second each. Scrape the work bowl. In a measuring cup with a spout, combine the ice water and vinegar. While pulsing rapidly, gradually add the liquid through the feed tube, and continue pulsing until the dough forms several large clumps but does not gather into a ball. This may take 20 or more pulses. Feel the dough. If it seems wet enough to cohere when you press the pieces together, remove the dough from the work bowl, and form it into a 5-inch disc. If the dough seems dry, add 1 teaspoon ice water to the dough in the work bowl and pulse to incorporate. Test dough again to see if it will hold together

18 magazine

when pressed. Repeat, if necessary. Wrap the dough securely in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour or up to two days. To make the pastry by hand, place the three flours in a large mixing bowl, stir with a fork to combine well, and stir in the salt. Add the shortening and work it rapidly into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture is the consistency of fine meal. Add the butter, and cut it in with a pastry blender until the particles resemble small peas. Combine the ice water and vinegar and sprinkle it into the flour while tossing lightly with a fork. Keep tossing and stirring until the mixture is moistened and gathers into a ball. If necessary, add more ice water by droplets. Remove the dough from the bowl, place it on a sheet of plastic wrap, and pat it gently to form a 5inch disc. Wrap and refrigerate for one hour or up to two days. On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled pastry into a 13-inch circle. Fit it loosely into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim away excess pastry with scissors, leaving 1/2-inch of overhang. Fold the pastry edge back on itself and press together to form a high-standing rim. This is important because there is a generous amount of filling. Flute the edge and refrigerate the crust for 30 minutes or longer. With an oven rack in the center position, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. To partially bake the crust, line the shell with a square of aluminum foil, pressing it gently on the bottom and sides. Fill with dried beans or rice and place the pastry in the oven. Bake 20 minutes, until the pastry is set and edges begin to brown. Remove the pie pan from the oven and carefully remove the foil and beans or rice. Return the crust to the oven and bake about 5 minutes more, just until the bottom is set. If pastry puffs up during this time, prick gently in several places with a fork. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.


or the filling, cut the mushrooms in half and slice each half thinly. Have the shallot ready. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil (reserve remaining 1 tablespoon) and the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the shallot and stir a few seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring for 5 to 8 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and begin to brown.

Whole wheat pastry 1/2 cup whole wheat flour 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 1/3 cup cake flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into three pieces 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, refrigerator temperature, cut into eight equal pieces 4 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed 1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Season with salt and pepper to taste and scrape mushrooms into a bowl. Set skillet aside. Put the spinach and water into a large pot. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is completely cooked and wilted. Drain in a colander. When cool enough to handle, squeeze gently to remove most of the liquid and chop spinach coarsely. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the mushroom cooking skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and stir to heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the cooked mushrooms. Remove the pan from the heat and cool until warm. Stir in the shredded cheese. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until the yolks and whites are thoroughly combined. Whisk in 1/2 teaspoon salt, the half and half, and Tabasco. When ready to bake, adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the spinach and mushroom filling loosely in the pie shell-don’t pack it down-and pour in the egg mixture. Pie shell will be very full. Bake about 45 minutes, or until custard is set and top is flecked with brown. Cool on a wire rack 10-15 minutes before serving.

Filling 8 ounces small mushrooms, white or brown (I use the brown crimini) 1 large shallot, minced 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon butter Salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed 12 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves, pre-washed 1 cup water 1/2 cup finely chopped onion 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Jarlsberg cheese (3 ounces) 4 large eggs 1 1/4 cups half and half or whole milk Pinch of cayenne pepper or a few drops of Tabasco

Creamed radishes 3 bunches red radishes 1 1/2 tablespoons butter 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon sweet paprika 1 1/2 cups half and half or whole milk or a combination, very hot Salt to taste 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco or big pinch of cayenne 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, snipped fresh chives, or flat-leaf parsley


reamed radishes make a terrific side dish to serve with the quiche. People who’ve never eaten a cooked radish will be surprised by how good they taste. Trim the roots and stem ends off the radishes and rinse radishes thoroughly. Cut radishes into quarters. (Wash the greens and use them in a soup or stir-fry). Put the radishes into a large saucepan and add enough water to cover. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons salt and bring the water to the simmer. Cook, uncovered, at a slow boil, until the radishes are tender, about 10 minutes. The radishes will take on a translucent look and the skins will have lost their bright red color. Don’t overcook or radishes will turn mushy. Drain and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When bubbly, stir in the flour. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes without browning the flour. Stir in the paprika. Remove pan from the heat and add the hot liquid all at once. Whisk briskly, and return pan to medium heat. Bring to the simmer, and cook 2 minutes, stirring. Add salt to taste and Tabasco or cayenne. Taste carefully and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Stir in the dill, chives or parsley, and the radishes. Heat until piping hot and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Makes 6 servings. magazine


western montana getaway

natural wonder by timothy alex akimoff photos by tom bauer map by ken barnedt

Hikers cross the swinging bridge over the Kootenai River just downstream from Kootenai Falls. The trek offers a spectacular view of the river and its crystal clear water.


IBBY – The roar carries through acres of dampening cedar boughs, though no hint of the deluge is visible from the highway. And the sound of Kootenai Falls is just the first impression in a fast-forming love affair with a natural element. Recently named one of “11 Places to See Before They Disappear” by Frommer’s, a travel Web site and book publisher, Kootenai Falls is a monument to the natural

order, joining such man-made wonders as the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids of Giza and Babylon on the list. It’s easy to see why a natural wonder like the last major waterfall on a Northwest river not tapped for electricity would appeal to people.

continued on page 23 magazine


Kootenai Falls spills over flat rock shelves, and viewing opportunities abound along the river.

Visiting Kootenai Falls Getting there: From Kalispell, take U.S. Highway 2 toward Libby. Kootenai Falls is located between Libby and Troy at milepost 21. When to visit: The falls can be viewed any time of year, though the steep switchback trail may be treacherously icy in winter. High river flows make for more spectacular viewing conditions, but the falls are beautiful any time of year. What to do there: A switchback and a metal bridge over the train tracks make for a short jaunt to the falls, where

22 magazine

numerous viewing and photography opportunities exist on the flat rock shelves. Picnicking opportunities abound, as do opportunities to view wildlife and watch kayakers play in the water. Visitors can hike around the falls, as well as visit a long swinging bridge downriver from the falls. Signs point the way toward both the falls and the swinging bridge, and the trails are generally in good condition. There are many exploring opportunities around the bridge and the falls, but conditions in the river are considered dangerous. Signs

warn visitors of the possibility of extreme and even fatal danger from undercurrents and structures in the river where a person might become trapped. The water is exceptionally clear, and visitors can see rock overhangs in the river below. Kootenai Falls is a perfect stop on a tour of western Montana’s beautiful and remote wilderness areas, including the Yaak River Valley and the Cabinet Mountains. Opportunities for recreational activities like fishing, camping, hiking, skiing and hunting are plentiful in the region.

“Kootenai Falls is a special place,� Lincoln County Commissioner Tony Berget said. “Every time I go, it means a lot to me.� Despite the attention drawn to it by Frommer’s, Berget maintains that Kootenai Falls is in no danger of disappearing. “They’re saying they’re going to put a dam on it,� Berget said. “And it’s just not true; there is no way today.� But degradation of wetlands on the Idaho portion of the Kootenai River and other dams have contributed to worries about the river’s 485-mile-long course and the species that live in and along it. “It’s not a one-issue thing,� Berget said. “There is a lot more to it.� White sturgeon, a land-locked variety of the species found in this river, have ceased to spawn and, unless younger fish reach the spawning age, some scientists believe they could become extinct in less than 30 years. Popularized as “The Gauntlet� in the movie “The River Wild,� Kootenai Falls still thunders as a sacred place to the Kootenai Indian Tribe, as a spiritual place that probably carries as much meaning for them as construction of a white-marble tomb did to a Mughal emperor in India. And while not as stately as the Pyramids of Giza, the terraces overflowing with icy white river water are humbling in their own way. From high above the swinging bridge, the turgid river, green and clear beyond reason, flows west toward Idaho and back into Canada before spilling into the Columbia River. It is difficult to imagine it disappearing altogether, as it must have been to the people who watched Celilo Falls disappear behind The Dalles on the Columbia River. But it’s not hard to imagine why the Kootenai River’s falls made Frommer’s list. To see the list: micro/2008/11_places_to_see_before_they_ disappear

Amazing Low Rates

and no other services to order!

Tim Akimoff is an online reporter for the Missoulian and Reach him at (406) 523-5246 or at Tom Bauer is a photographer for the Missoulian. Reach him at (406) 523-5270 or at $IDYOUKNOWTHATWITH"2)$'%-!88YOUDONTNEEDTOSIGNUP FORANYOTHERSERVICESTOGETOURAMAZINGLOWRATE)TSJUSTWHAT YOUWANT HIGHSPEED)NTERNET

Plus, be sure to ask about BRIDGEMAXX Voice!

For more information:


PROMOCODEMISSOULIAN HIGH SPEED WIRELESS INTERNET BridgeMAXX® wireless internet is a service of DigitalBridge Communications Corp.® ©2007 DigitalBridge Communications Corp.® All rights reserved. magazine


by Keila Szpaller

photos by Michael Gallacher

Above: Mark Kersting’s work ethic and attention to detail gave new life to one of Missoula’s architectural treasures. Kersting spent thousands of dollars and countless hours painstakingly restoring this turn-of-the-century Northside landmark. Right: The Stensrud shares the block with homeWORD’s Gold Dust apartments, blending architectural designs that span a century but complement one another.

24 magazine

or decades, Merlin Stensrud stashed junk and antiques in the old brick building carrying his name in one of Missoula’s rougher neighborhoods. In 1998, the life of the eccentric Stensrud collided with the life of Mark Kersting, a man versed in historical restoration. The men, neighbors but not contemporaries, sat on a porch stoop and talked one day. Stensrud wanted to sell Kersting the building, and the older man turned to Kersting with a proclamation about their encounter and the sale of the hurting edifice. “I think I’ve been waiting for you.” Ten years later, Stensrud the building is more alive and lively than it has been at least since a grocer sold goods out of it in the 1920s. Kersting, the man honored with the task of her restoration, has his eyes trained on another dilapidated structure around the corner in the same railroad neighborhood. Stensrud the man is dead, but he didn’t pass without seeing the old gal polished up and

returned to splendor. “I sold to the right guy.” The right guy encountered a lot of wrong problems in the monumental endeavor. Even getting to Missoula took Kersting a couple tries. He first arrived in 1996 from Kansas City, Mo. He’d honed his craft in Missouri, learning the skills involved in historical restoration: the plastering, wiring, wood stripping, plumbing. For nine months, he presented his portfolio to architects in Missoula. The accolades came in droves, but the only salary offer that came with them led Kersting to do an about-face. “The wage was so ridiculously low for my skill level that I basically went back to Missouri,” he said. Missoula is a vortex, though, and it pulled Kersting back after he tried real estate in Missouri and learned life behind a desk didn’t suit him. That second time in the Garden City, he met Merlin Stensrud. Their paths crossed because Kersting had found a place to live on the Northside. It was just behind the Stensrud Building, magazine


and Kersting had been fixing it up. The old man, skeptical of the younger generation’s ability to work, had been watching Kersting sweat and dirty his hands there. Kersting’s abilities and work ethic impressed him. The conversation on the porch happened, and eventually, so did a sale. It’s how one day, Kersting ended up training his Milwaukee heat gun on a baseboard in the Stensrud at 314 N. First St. and wondering what he’d gotten himself into.


thers wondered, too. The brick and wood building is big, two stories plus a full basement. The main floor alone is 1,800 square feet, and every square inch of wood needed to be stripped and restained. That didn’t include the apartments, kitchen and bathroom upstairs, the wooden stairs leading up to them or the basement below. It didn’t include the mountains of trash Kersting needed to remove from the building to even begin the restoration. The 5-foot-7 man planned to do the bulk of the work himself and by hand, and skeptics told him he couldn’t pull it off. The man, though, disagreed: “I’m from Missouri. It’s the Show Me State.”

26 magazine


o he started to show them. He filled three 40-yard Dumpsters full of trash from the building. Friends filled another four as Kersting worried his banker would visit and decline to back the restoration with words like this: “Are you out of your mind? This place is fully dilapidated. It’s a pigeon house.” But the financing came and the work continued. Kersting did big things along the way. He lifted the building off its foundation and reset it, and the movement made the creaky structure pop and snap. He hired people to plant a beam and posts on the main floor. He took care of details, too. Inch by inch, he scrubbed off old paint. When inspiration hit, he painted a yellow and green design onto a rounded bar that pushes out across the building above the door. Those things weren’t completed by the eve of the new millennium, but Kersting and his friends partied anyway. “The floor? It was full of coal dust and grease and grime. But we pulled off an incredible party,” he said. Then the summer of 2000 came. The heat had scorched Missoula to crispy and Kersting needed to put a new roof on the structure. His friends joked with him: “Take the roof off your building so it will rain.”

LEFT: Large arched windows give the upstairs living space an open, airy feel. The original wood floor, once covered with grease and coal dust, has been returned to betterthan-original splendor. Top Right: “I had one of the most unique opportunities you could ever imagine,” Kersting said of the restoration process Bottom Right: With the exception of multiple coats of paint and grime and years of deferred maintenance, Merlin Stensrud had left the original building intact. It was up to Kersting, shown in this 1999 Missoulian photo, to remove the layers of time.

Kersting peeled off the roof and covered it with sheets, and sure enough, two days later it rained. Water poured in, filling and refilling a 55-gallon drum. Kersting emptied bucket after bucket and reminded himself of Pinocchio waging battle against endless water. The rain kept coming. “It was raining inside the building,” Kersting said.


ome say Kersting incubated that corner of the neighborhood. The purchase had given him control of five adjacent lots, and he didn’t want just anyone next door to the masterpiece restoration. When one developer offered to build a storage facility there, Kersting said no. The businessman tried to sweeten the deal with a promise the storage units would be “Japanese style.” Again, Kersting said no. Instead, he gave homeWORD a green light to build The Gold Dust, affordable housing units. In late May 2001, the bulk of the work was done on the Stensrud and Kersting and some friends popped a bottle of champagne. Experts had helped with things like installing posts on the main floor. Mostly, though, the restoration had been done by

The 5-foot-7 man planned to do the bulk of the work himself and by hand, and skeptics told him he couldn’t pull it off. The man, though, disagreed: “I’m from Missouri. It’s the Show Me State.” magazine


Whether it was bringing luster back to the original woodwork or sanding years of wear from the floors, Kersting did much of the work himself. The main room on the street level is decorated with antiques and relics from the lives that have shared the Stensrud building’s history.

Kersting and a five-person crew working roughly one year. Kersting estimates it’s a $1 million job done for less than $250,000. Today, setting foot onto the main floor feels like entering the ballroom of an old cruise ship. Kersting has filled the Stensrud with antiques and charm, relics that once belonged to the former owner and some from his own family history. A 1940s radio that belonged to Merlin Stensrud sits on a table in back, and a clock bearing his name hangs on a post. Stensrud was a skilled sign painter, and one of his signs hangs near the entrance: “Ansco photo supplies, films, chemicals gyko paper.” An old coal stove weighing 700 pounds sits on the main floor, too. It has a 1905 patent date, and some antiques, like the stove, were original to the building. Others came with Kersting from

28 magazine

Kansas City or belonged to his family, like his grandmother’s dinette. Kersting has rented out the space as a community center because he wants the general public to enjoy it. Some visitors evidently have enjoyed themselves so much, they helped themselves to his belongings. A $4,000 Afghan rug disappeared, and so did a medallion that belonged to his grandfather. He’d like those items returned. Those guests are exceptions, though. Most people respect the space, and many who rent it invite Kersting to their parties. The moments he spends watching them gather and celebrate bring him reward. Missoula is a modest town, he says, and fine places are sometimes out of reach for families. So to see children in awe of the

building – or even riding their tricycles through it – satisfies him. He’s grateful to the people who cherish the place, and also to those who made the restoration possible. Merlin Stensrud, who offered him a treasure, a blank canvas so many artists crave. First Security Bank, Community Bank Missoula, and his landlady, Sandy Mitchell, who supported the restoration financially. “I had one of the most unique opportunities you could ever imagine,” Kersting said. He leases out apartments on the second floor, and he himself lives in an apartment attached to the back of the building on the main floor. One day, he noticed some people slowly driving by the Stensrud. He waved, and they turned out to be Merlin Stensrud’s relatives. Kersting invited them in for a tour, and he remembers they cried as he took them through.

Keila Szpaller covers City Hall for the Missoulian. She can be reached at 523-5262 or at Michael Gallacher is a photographer for the Missoulian. He can be reached at 523-5270 or at magazine


1886–2008 remembering bonner mill Written by KIM BRIGGEMAN


n the early weeks of autumn in 1890, a Missoula Gazette reporter identified only as W. ventured 10 miles upstream to the 4-year-old sawmill on the lower Blackfoot River. “It is an interesting sight to see this mill working,” the reporter wrote when he returned. “The great whistle booms, the men jump to their places, the saws begin to revolve, with a low hum at first, which becomes a shriek and roar, drowning your efforts to talk.” For the next century and change, the process of making trees into lumber and stulls; plywood and laggin’; prefabricated homes and, during the First World War, even airplanes hummed and shrieked and roar. “The Bonner lumber manufacturing plant represents one of western Montana’s institutions of progress,” said a Sunday Missoulian report in 1937. “It has been in operation for more than 50 years. This is believed an American record for operation of a major mill at one location.” The saws stopped revolving 71 years later, in 2008. The mill’s impact on the state, national and international front is still being analyzed. Suffice it to say it was huge. For much its history, corporate bigwigs from the East Coast and, at the end, Oregon, called the shots from afar. Entire lives were lived just down the street from the mill, sometimes with nary a peek into the inner workings of the mill, a world of mystifying noises, grand machinery, and a vernacular comprehended by only a select few. It was a world of dry kilns and hot ponds; of jitneys, chippers, stackers, conveyors, scarfing machines; of “precision end trimmer operators” and the infamous green chain; 2-by-4s and hog fuel; of millwrights planers and on. When outsiders did invade the inner sanctum, politics, economics or conservationist leanings didn’t matter. They were uniformly struck with the sheer enormity of it all. The mill complex spread over an area of nearly 320 acres and over time included dozens of buildings for vehicles, horses, machinery, a box factory, a planing mill, the large warehouse, not to mention the sawmill, stull mill, plywood plants and stud mills. Since 1963 the landmark structure was a towering planer storage building near Highway 200 that covered seven acres, but it was only one of a handful of immense buildings constructed by the Anaconda Forest Products Division and successors in the next three decades.

“Entire lives were lived just down the street from the mill, sometimes with nary a peek into the inner workings of the mill.”

They were called river hogs and they were responsible for keeping the logs flowing on the Blackfoot River until they reached their destination at the Bonner mill.

Those who packed their lunch buckets and walked or drove to work each day, ever-reminded of production quotas and safety regulations and the other banalities of their lives, most often found themselves too busy making ends meet and too tired at the end of a long shift to spend time reflecting on their workaday world. Paul Zarzyski, these days the self-dubbed “Polish hobo-rodeo-poet of the American West” tried his hand at it. He worked at the Bonner mill between quarters at the University of Montana in the 1970s, the early, riproaring years of U.S. Plywood/Champion International. A quarter moon sinks a keen edge/ into a clearcut mountain,/ and the only stars are sawdust /your crosscut sprays against the dark, he wrote. And: These hours fester in your head, / too much caffeine, tobacco juice, / the peaveys that stab your flesh / in bad dreams you have all day. magazine


With more than 150 years of combined service at the Bonner mill, Gene Nulliner, Rudi Miller, Glenn Smith and Art Bailey, from left, have a lot of fond memories of their time there.

Photo by Michael Gallacher


or the past few years, Missoula County has been known for its great lumber industry, each year hundreds of millions of feet being shipped to different parts of the territory,” reported the Weekly Missoulian on Oct. 30, 1889. “The largest mill in the territory, as well as between Wisconsin and the coast, is the Blackfoot mill located about six miles east of Missoula on the Blackfoot River. At this mill during the operating season about 150 men are employed, and the great quantity of lumber turned out is shown by the report of the mill from April 1 to October 1 of this year, the enormous amount of 24 million feet. The capacity of the mill is over 150,000 feet per day.” By 1890, Montana had become a state, branch railroad lines were expanding by the mile and Butte mines were keeping the lumber mills frantically busy producing stulls and “lagging”, the props and 2-by-6 planks that lined the hundreds of miles of shaft under the Mining City. At least 25 lumber mills were sawing away in western Montana. They were owned by three or four different companies, the largest being the Big Blackfoot Milling, which covered the lion’s share of the Bitterroot lumber and some of the area in the lower Clark Fork region, in what’s now Mineral County. The chief mill, however, was in a company town near the mouth of the Blackfoot, named five years earlier when it became a flag station on the Northern Pacific line for merchant and budding railroad magnate Edward L. Bonner, co-owner of the first mill.

32 magazine

Bonner, for whom Bonners Ferry in Idaho is also named, was many things, but he wasn’t a lumber man. That title fell his former clerk and current business partner, Andrew B. Hammond, and especially Hammond’s brothers. Henry Hammond managed the mill and employed 300 men in the autumn of 1890, paying them $1,000 a day. Another 200 were in the timber camps on the Big Blackfoot, under the direction of George Hammond. The culture that was the lumber products industry was already established in western Montana. It would sustain thousands upon thousands of lives over the next century plus, while culling billions of board feet from the forests of the Blackfoot and Clark Fork drainages. That’s what “W.” was attempting to portray in 1890, in the florid language for which the Missoula Gazette was known. His was the first known description of the mill operation in Bonner, and it was a doozy. “The logs that have journeyed down the river have reached here after many a severe bump and bruise, and there they lay, their scaly backs exposed, rolling in the pond like a herd of leviathans. But not long here do they rest. They are nosed around to an endless spiked chain, treacherously running down into the black depths of the pond, which seizes them and drags them up an incline to the mill. “Once there two sturdy Irishmen hook them

“When I started out in logging in 1964, they threw you a hard hat and said, ‘Go to work.’ That was your training period,” Art Bailey

A lumber grader checks the finished product in this Anaconda Company publicity photo from 1963.

and heave them off, and suddenly a great steel-clad finger is thrust up in their midst and throws them on to the carriage, a lever is pressed, the shining saws gleam and flash, and the lever is touched and away they go, the circling disc of steel shivering with its frightful velocity plunges into their resinous flanks shrieking like a fiend, the sawdust, the very heart’s blood of the log, spurting up in a stream. “All the songs the tree has learned of the wind in the hills, all the melodies treasured up in the years of its growth since its bushy babyhood go up in one long wail of agonizing distress. Backward and forward it flies, moaning out its life, the fresh, fragrant boards falling from its sides till nothing is left. “Then the angry saw screams like a raging maniac till it is satisfied with another victim. Then these boards are hurried away on rollers down the long mill, edged, sized and trimmed and out into the yard, where they are piled in great pyramids, long avenues, squares and blocks are formed, through which you can wander, scenting the piney fragrance of the forest destined to become a city. W.”


illis Ross was born in Eau Claire, Wisc., in 1886, the year the Montana mill went on-line. He arrived in Bonner in 1905 and landed a job at the mill thanks to his older brother Eugene, the head filer.


“Willis’ entire life from that day on has been centered around Bonner, Montana, and the Anaconda Copper & Mining Company,” said a 1959 profile in the newsletter of the Oregonbased Armstrong Manufacturing Company, when Ross’ retired. Willis took over as head filer in 1908, and with little interruption spent the next 53 years at it. The writer remarked on the head filer’s “spry step ... through the mill.” “He is exceptionally sharp and alert. He sees everything that goes on in the mill. His ears are attuned to the noise of the mill and can detect an off-beat sound that spells trouble even though it may be buried deep among the multitude of the industrial noises of a modern saw mill. At 72, he uses glasses only to read or look at something closely.” Ross almost didn’t make it to retirement. “In 1934, I was lining up the tracks for the carriage when suddenly a leaking valve released the carriage,” he said. “It caught me hard and pinned me down tight. When they got me out and to a hospital the survey of the damage read like a body and fender shop’s repair report. All the ribs and the shoulder on my left side were broken. My back was broken in three places. And among other internal injuries, my heart had been pushed over to the right side. “Well, here I am today,” he concluded, “and I feel as good as I ever did. I believe my heart actually moved back all by itself to the left side where it belongs.”


to lumber in the bonner sawmill

A lumber grader checks the finished product in this Anaconda Company publicity photo from 1963.

When Cal Bonnet arrived at the Bonner lumber mill in September 1960, he was fresh out of the Army. The Anaconda Company of Butte signed his paychecks for the first 12 years, until it sold the plant to U.S. Plywood/Champion International. Like everyone else, Bonnet was laid off that spring of 1972, but he got a call at the end of summer, asking him back. So began Bonnet’s career of more than two decades as the lead millwright at the Bonner sawmill, a separate operation from the plywood plant that would become the largest in North America. Bonnet described the seemingly convoluted path a log followed from hot pond to a stack of ready-to-ship lumber: After it was debarked by pressurized water outside the sawmill, the log was kicked into the hot pond and up a “bull chain” into the sawmill. An operator, or in later years an electronic scanner, routed it to one of three carriages, depending on its size. The scanner, Bonnet said, “was our first introduction to the computer era.”

34 magazine

“Shotguns” – steam cylinders 30 or 40 feet long and 10 or 12 inches in diameter – powered the three carriages, which were the main processing machines. “The carriages were used to set the log to the thickness that the sawyer wanted and transported through the band saw to make the desired cut,” said Bonnet. A sawyer used a steam-operated log turner to position the log on the carriage. The band saw’s first pass “opened” the log with a thin cut, and the slab created was dispensed to the chipper via a conveyor. The next time through the saw, the log was cut to the desired thickness but was still a rounded log. On to the edger, which removed the curved edges and cut the piece to width – 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 inches. After a 90- or 180-degree turn of the board by the sawyer, the process began again. Next the squared-up “cant” was sent to a gang saw, which had multiple saws (and was later replaced with a set of twin band saws.) Those saws would cut the cant into a number of boards, which proceeded on a


afety was always an issue at the mill, never more so than on the river drives of the late 1800s and early 1900s. In 1905, some 25 million feet of logs were floated the 11 miles from McNamara Landing to Bonner, and it was considered one of the “cleanest” in years. Few logs were left along the river bank after high water. But it didn’t come easily. A jam occurred just above the mill. “The logs piled many feet high and for a time it was feared that the jam would take out the bridge across the stream near Bonner,” the Daily Missoulian reported. Twenty-five men worked day and night to break the jam, “and dynamite was freely used.” On the morning of June 9, the key log was found and blown out. Thousands of logs broke loose and headed toward the holding pond behind the mill dam. “Some of the rivermen were in extremely ticklish places at the time the break came, but they all escaped without injury, although some of them had close calls in getting away,” the paper said. “When I started out in logging in 1964, they threw you a hard hat and said, ‘Go to work.’ That was your training period,” said Art Bailey, who spent 40 years in the woods and at the Bonner mill. “After that time frame, we got into a lot of safety issues and safety meetings and safety regulations – eye protection, ear protection, and the list goes on and on. And I’ve got to say, I think that was for the better.”

Bailey was around the machinery, be it state of the art or over the hill, every day. Even he marvels at the “double-end dogger” that Champion brought in during its years from 1972 to 1993. Every four seconds the two-armed saw squared three sides of a log. It was equipped with an optimizer, Bailey said, which “Xrayed” each log before it went into the dogger and centered the machine to get the most productive cut. “That optimizer would take a picture of a log that fast, and run the log to get the most material out of it,” he said. “It was totally amazing to sit and watch on the screen, and they had a screen in the lunchroom. (It) would show you the next log that was about to come up, and it would tell you what they were going to cut out of that log, what were the different variations of that log … “That was an amazing piece of history and technology there.”


or much of its history, the mill was a snoose-chewing, macho line of work. Some of that changed with the times. You still saw the bulge of a Copenhagen can in back pockets, right to the bitter end. But when Bailey started in the early 1960s, what few female workers there were could be found only in the office. “That changed dramatically as time went on and a new generation, so to speak, came in,” he said. “There were a lot of women who came into the plant site and worked side by side – a lot

continued on page 72

May of 2008 signaled the end of the road for the Bonner mill when Stimson Lumber Co. closed the doors for good. When this photo was taken around 1910, Bonner was a thriving lumber town.

conveyor to the transfer table. There they were transported to trim saws, which cut them to a length that would produce a quality board. Next came the green chain, where the wood had its first human contact – at least until the green chain became computerized too. There the boards were sorted and stacked according to wood species, thickness, width, length and grade, then sent to the stacker, a machine with two arms that picked up a layer of boards and lay it neatly in a pile. Each layer was topped by three or four stickers to allow an air space. Kiln buggies transported the wood over small railroad-type tracks and stopped inside the steam-heated dry kiln until the wood was sufficiently sapped of moisture. The lumber was cooled outside, a lumber unstacker removed the stickers and, for much of the sawmill’s lifetime, the load was transferred to a dry chain and restacked by hand onto a bunk. A straddle buggy picked up the bunk and hauled it to the planer, where the boards were planed to finished products. Still the journey still wasn’t over. Sometimes the planed

Blade sharpeners pose for a photograph around 1910.

lumber was stored outside or in “standup sheds” to prevent warping. Other times the boards went straight to the shipping department, where they were hand-stacked into railroad boxcars or loaded onto a truck via fork lift. “This system of processing lumber remained until the sawmill was shut down (in 1988) to build a new stud mill and planing mill,” Bonnet said. “The reason that the sawmill was shut down was that the old carriage system was becoming inefficient handling the logs as they were getting smaller. “The new plywood plant that was constructed was using the larger and higher-quality logs to make plywood. That left the sawmill with a smaller and lower-quality log. There were plenty of small logs that required a different type manufacturing process. The (criterion) for a new mill was to utilize state-of-the-art computers to control scanning optimization, volume, recovery and minimize manpower to operate the new mill, and to utilize the smaller logs that were available.” magazine



home on the

by Lori Grannis


photos by Linda Thompson

erched at the end of a stylish Ralph Lauren houndstooth-check sofa, Colleen Powers sits beneath an enormous timber ceiling beam, illumined by rays of sunlight pouring in from the windows behind. Floor-to-ceiling burlap fiber drapes capture and frame the heart of a valley beyond, steeped in Western history and unspeakable beauty. The view is what first inspired Ranch Club owners John and Colleen Powers to begin the painstaking process of carefully

36 magazine

crafting a community of luxury club lodge homes that will eventually sit at the edge of 340 acres of rolling hills and an 18-hole links-style golf course, located off Mullan Road in Missoula. But it’s those mountain ranges, looming large in the distance, that the couple say they are actually selling. “It’s one of the few (local) places where you see wide open spaces – you don’t see those in Grant Creek, in the Rattlesnake, or in Miller Creek,” says Colleen Powers. “If you think about it, there are really only a few places in town where you can see all the way from Sleeping Woman Peak to

Snowbowl, to Mount Jumbo and Sentinel, (over) to Blue Mountain,” says John Powers, running an index finger through the air across the length of the home. The couple, who purchased the course and adjacent land from Washington Corp. three years ago, say they never realized just how stunning these views actually were until they began to spend time here. “I think it’s absolutely remarkable – you just don’t capture views like this in many places,” she says. On the outside, this lodge home takes the shape of a place out West. Big beams meld Western style with Craftsman angle.

Adjacent to the 18-hole championship golf course at the Ranch Club sits a new 4,800square-foot model home, part of the owner’s vision of a community of luxury club lodge homes.

Inside, it’s a world apart – of Parisian elegance and simplicity, and American creature comforts: a craft room, a wine cellar and a state-of-the-art media room for the latest in toy-tech gadgetry. In the home’s great room, a formidable stack of limestone bricks form the main fireplace – one of four in the home. The stuff of ancient temples, these asymmetrical blocks sit as medieval edifices divided by a well-worn sinker-log pulled from the Blackfoot River at the Bonner sawmill site. In this grand mantle’s center, a stark, bleached-white deer skull and antlers is perched up high. At first glance, it’s a magazine


LEFT: Ranch Club co-owner Colleen Powers sits in the model home’s living room. Below: Many of the home’s bathrooms feature modern fixtures mixed with an earthy palette.

well-acquainted icon of Western design. Upon closer inspection, this trophy is more metaphor than icon. This whimsical white faux rendition of a deer, formed less as a dead-ringer for wildlife than as an expression of a designer’s whimsical view of taxidermy, is pure composite, and just one of many playful points of view courtesy of interior designer Kim Arnot.


s lead designer for the high-end lodge homes Arnot, who also owns Red Rooster Trading in Missoula, spent the better part of a year fitting this 4,800-square-foot model with dozens of

details. Some are pure polish – influenced by European jaunts. Still others lend either staunch practicality or pure flights of fancy. All reflect Arnot’s proclivity for melding classic technique with parodoxical and quirky elemental flourishes. “Don’t you just love that deer?” she bubbles. For utility, turn-of-the-century pushbutton light switch plates – sourced from historical renovation circles – hearken to history, and lend a stylish but pragmatic air to rooms just beyond 8-foot-tall solid alderwood doors. A slick, elegant aesthetic begins to emerge at the edge of utility. From the

master suite’s stainless steel fireplace to ceramic tiles in the master bath – embossed to emulate horn-backed alligator hide. The ultra-modern tub filler above a stand-alone tub, delivers a blast of bath water from the ceiling above, while the barrel-vaulted marble shower ceiling was fashioned after Colleen Powers’ favorite hotel: London’s Dorchester Hotel. These touches of refinement and grace leave potential buyers to drift enchanted through this house, intrigued that they could ever find a home in Missoula anything like this. “It’s a great selling point that someone is looking out for you in all of these small

details,” says Powers. For that, she says, her longtime friend brings enormous value to the project.


rnot, who has fashioned residential and commercial interiors in western Montana for more than a decade, also introduced the couple to renowned Kalispell architect Nick Fullerton. Fullerton, a regular fixture in Architectural Digest, helped shape the Powers’ concept for the Montana exteriors the couple say they wanted the lodges to have, then fashioned floor plans with flow and function not routinely found in area homes this size. “It’s the kind of place that people say they come here to buy, or even see, and can’t,” says Powers of the rugged Western exterior which features traditional Crafstman gallows brackets and large beams. It fulfills what people expect to see in Montana and she says people get excited when they tour the model home. Fullerton’s original homes and lodge renovations can be seen throughout Montana and beyond, and have garnered coveted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certifications, and sustainability and smart growth building nods. Fullerton says the theme of a home is more or less just a thread to remind everyone of its roots, but it is a home’s attention to detail that he says “truly engages.” The smallest of these lodges is a 2,700square-foot home featuring a main floor and basement, beginning at $950,000. A 3,300-square-foot midsize lodge features main and upper floors, while this 4,800square-foot model is slated to be the community’s largest. Many assume a home with more than 4,000 square feet would seem cavernous. In this case, its casual flow and design, coupled with exquisite detailing, leave it more in the range of cozy and inviting. Color palettes of serene hues – gray, sand, terra cotta, mud – tell a story of relaxed and graceful living, while materials sourced from all over the world (limestone, marble, onyx and Celtic metal artifacts) tie together their organic relationships and intimate feel.


life’s front door

Wayne-Dalton of Missoula 5657 Alloy South, Missoula, MT 59808 406-728-6243


olleen Powers ushers a tour across hewn fir floors, stained a custom color, past stainless steel Wolf and Subzero kitchen appliances, and up the stairs to a family room and den with yet another sweeping view of God’s country. More than a bucolic escape, situated magazine


Top Photo: An oversized egress window lined with limestone offers ample light to a basement den. Left: Copper gutters line the exterior roofline of the home.

TOP RIGHT: Generous burlap curtains gather on the hewn-fir wood floors beneath windows.

BOTTOM RIGHT: Each bathroom in the model home showcases a different theme down to the tiling.

Parisian elegance and simplicity, and American creature comforts.

five miles out from the city’s center, what John and Colleen Powers hope potential home buyers will feel here is a real sense of community. It’s the kind of place they have worked to make “hard to leave.” “All of the amenities that surround residents here, we think will offer the most value,” says John Powers. In addition to the 18-hole championship course, amenities slated will include a fitness facility, a pool area, and a fully operating social event barn for private gatherings. But John and Colleen Powers also envision it will include an ever-expanding list of services and conveniences for residents, such as dry-cleaning pickup, door-to-door auto services and car detailing, dog walking, security and access to fine dining. Golf enthusiasts will find a haven here. Purchase will include a waiver of the club’s normal $7,500 initiation fee, and a full year of complimentary monthly membership dues. For those who don’t drive and putt, a waiver of the community’s social club membership fee, and a year of dues, will be afforded. “We think it’s the kind of community that is a safe place for families, and so much more than just a series of next-door neighbors,” said Colleen Powers. People will actually have a chance to know one another here, she says.

Lori Grannis is a Missoulian food columnist, and frequently contributes to magazine. She may be reached at (406) 360-8788 or Missoulian photographer Linda Thompson can be reached at (406) 523-5270 or by e-mail at magazine




by Gwen Florio photos by Tom Bauer


ust over a year ago, if someone had wanted to describe Mayor John Engen’s life in cinematic terms, “Dead Man Walking” pretty much summed things up. Except that the “walking” part would have been a stretch. The mayor is a big guy, 6-foot-2, but even his large frame labored under the weight of more than 425 pounds. People generally assess their weight these days by calculating their body-mass index, a ratio of height to weight. Normal weight people fall into a BMI range of 18.5 to 24.9. People are considered overweight between a BMI of 25 and 29.9, obese if their BMI is over 30. Engen’s BMI at that time? 54.6. “I was teetering on the edge” of a gastric bypass, the socalled stomach-stapling surgery that severely limits how much a person can eat. It’s a drastic solution, performed only on the morbidly obese, the key word here being “morbid.”

42 magazine

at a


Engen wasn’t teetering on the edge of surgery, he was teetering on the edge of death. The mayor rarely misses an opportunity to crack wise, but it’s hard to smile when he talks about those days: “I had a lot of folks around concerned that I was going to die from being a fattie.” That, as they say, was then. Sticking with the tortured movie metaphors, a film about Engen these days might feature the mayor donning a cape and bursting from a phone booth – kids, ask your parents – to reveal his new identity: “Marathon Man!” (OK, Half-Marathon Man, but nobody’s made a movie called that yet.) In the last year, the mayor has peeled an entire adult human being away from his frame, losing 140 pounds. When he says he did it one step at a time, Engen isn’t just talking

Missoula Mayor John Engen walks with his dog Patches on a trail near his Upper Rattlesnake neighborhood. Walking has been the main exercise in Engen’s weightloss regimen. magazine


about turning his back on eggs and cheese, replacing burgers with salads, beer with – oh, wait. The mayor still drinks beer, and none of that light stuff, either. A man can only give up so much. Just as important, the man who once struggled through the walk from Council Chambers next door to Sean Kelly’s, his favorite watering hole, now strides the trails around his Upper Rattlesnake neighborhood, easily keeping up with his long-legged greyhound, Patches. Last year, less than six months into his weight-loss program, Engen walked what might be termed an accidental half-marathon when Youth Homes’ Kim Anderson signed him up for that portion of the Missoula Marathon. Engen expected to limp along for maybe three or four miles, only to find himself, about 4 1/2 hours later, at the finish line – “last in my age group,” he announces. There’s nothing accidental about this year’s participation. On July 12, Engen will be there of his own volition. And, given those brisk hourlong strolls around the Rattlesnake or, when it’s open, on the slopes of Mount Jumbo – “Downhill is

44 magazine

better than up” – the mayor is no longer likely to be last.


ere’s the thing. If Engen can do it, you can, too. “Marathon” conjures up legions of Lycra-clad wraiths, the sort of humorless exercise drill sergeants who talk of time and distance and resting heart rates while the rest of us reach past them to grab the next doughnut. Half-marathon isn’t much better. We’re talking a scooch over 13 miles, people. When was the last time you hoofed it from, say, your morning latte stop at Break Espresso, out to Costco on Reserve to graze the food samples, then down to the Carmike Village 6 at the other end of Reserve to catch a movie (with the big tub of popcorn), then back on up Higgins and over to Sean Kelly’s for a well-deserved pint – but wait! You’re still short three miles, which would take you back out to Reserve again, at which point you might just be tempted to walk out into the middle of traffic and end your misery. You get the idea. Even walking, as Engen did last year and will do again this

year, it’s a good long ways, especially for a doughnut-snagging couch potato such as yourself. A humble reminder: When Engen entered last year’s sports marathon, he was 120 pounds away from his former “fattie” self, but was still almost certainly bigger – and surely in worse physical shape – than you. And he did it. The mayor doesn’t jog, let alone flatout run. He doesn’t pump iron. He doesn’t stomp along on a treadmill with earbuds trailing wires across his sweats. The mayor’s no dummy. He doesn’t like that stuff, just like you don’t. He just … walks. One step at a time, on nice days and not so nice, often accompanied by his wife, Tracy, and Patches the rescue greyhound and, these days, the new rescue dog, Odie, a so-called Labra-doodle. Companionship is helpful. For starters, it distracts you from the fact that what you’re doing is exercise – which, let’s face it, a sane person such as yourself realizes is Not. Much. Fun. – and turns it into a social occasion. Pathetic and friendless? Run Wild Missoula, the group that sponsors the

He just ... walks. One step at a time, on nice days and not so nice ...

At one point, Engen weighed more than 425 pounds. He’s since peeled away 140 pounds from his 6-foot-2 frame, walked a half-marathon and plans to walk the Missoula Half-Marathon again this year.

Missoula Marathon and Half-Marathon, has training sessions for both the marathon and half-marathon. Still need incentive? Ignore the fact that you’ll almost certainly feel better, look better and be in better health. Concentrate instead on kids whose problems put your own in clear and immediate perspective. The mayor walked the half-marathon last year as part of a team that collected pledges, ultimately earning more than $40,000, to benefit Youth Homes, a nonprofit that helps about 180 troubled young people who live in group homes and foster homes around western Montana. With the help of a grant from Montana Rail Link, Youth Homes will pay marathon or half-marathon entry fees for anyone willing to walk for pledges for their cause. Youth Homes also will pay for the training sessions with Run Wild. In return, they ask that each team member shoot for $1,000 in pledges. Last year, 41 people raised $41,000. This year, they’re hoping to collect $75,000. For incentive, each team member will be given the story of one of the children

r"8"3%8*//*/( .0/5"/" ."%&.&"%8*/&'30. -0$"-)0/&:#&33*&4 r(3&"5(*'545"45*/(300.

1345 US HWY. 93 N. #5 ď ľ VICTOR, MT 406.363.6323

served by Youth Homes. “When we struggle with training, these kids wake up every day having to do a lot of work as well, but theirs is emotional and mental,� said Anderson, Youth Homes’ development director. You can be part of that team by contacting Youth Homes’ community relations coordinator Ramey Kodahek, 721-2704, ext. 240, and by getting a form at Forms must be turned in by May 15. That first step, as Engen will tell you, is the hardest. Because the part on July 12 is easy. All you have to do is follow the big guy. He’ll walk you on home. Gwen Florio, the Missoulian’s city editor, can be reached at 523-5268, or by e-mail at Tom Bauer is a photographer for the Missoulian. Reach him at (406) 523-5270 or at magazine


• from 90210 to 59801

A Different Stage

by vince devlin photos by michael gallacher

Morgan Modine serenades his wife Rhea and dog Chicha at the family home in Missoula recently. Morgan and Rhea Modine have some wild stories to tell about their journey through life. From Morgan’s ill-fated attempt at an acting career to Rhea’s job as a talent scout for “The Gong Show.”

46 magazine


organ Modine’s show business career was short-lived in one sense. In another, it’s never really ended. Every time he goes to trial, the longtime Missoula attorney says he feels like he’s preparing for and co-starring in his own production. There’s a sell-out crowd of 12 in the jury box, and often a tough critic behind the bench. “I love trials,” Modine says. “They’re like doing improv. You never know what you’re going to face. You get butterflies beforehand, and when you finish one, there’s this exhilaration – my own dopamine high, I guess.” Modine’s own acting career was largely limited to commercials, guest spots in a few television dramas – “The Outsider,” “Medical Center” and “Marcus Welby, M.D.” – and one line in a major motion picture, 1973’s “Executive Action,” which starred Burt Lancaster. He played an airline employee in the film. “Stuttgart, Gate 18,” Modine told a band of snipers scrambling to exit the country after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, in one of

the first films to present a conspiracy theory in the death of the president. Eventually Modine left show business to his younger cousin, actor Matthew Modine, who has made a successful career of it for more than a quarter of a century. But Modine was still a few years from moving to Montana, enrolling in law school, and opening his own practice after graduation. The time leading up to that was, to say the least, interesting.


orn in Ventura, Calif., in 1947, Modine was the son of a school administrator and nurse who grew up among the children of stars, and stars in the making. He graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1965, alongside future actors Richard Dreyfuss and Albert Brooks. In high school, Modine dated Deana Martin, daughter of Dean Martin, and Missy Montgomery, daughter of George Montgomery and Dinah Shore. Palled around with Melinda Marx, daughter of Groucho Marx. Remembers the prom queen was Julie Cobb, daughter of Lee J. Cobb. “We were all just kids in high school, and they blended in with the rest of us,” Modine says. His own mother, who suffered from congenital heart problems, died when Modine was 11. Following a trip back to New York to visit his sister, stage actress Nola Fairbanks, Wylder Modine returned to California with a surprise for his sons Ralph and Morgan: a new wife. “I think my father just enjoyed being married,” Modine says. Alice was a New York socialite. Nola Fairbanks called on her to fill in when the show girl Fairbanks had initially set her brother up with on a blind date cancelled. It was a whirlwind romance that led to Alice returning to California with Wylder Modine. “Beverly Hills was Alice’s doing,” Modine says. “She needed to be where the action was,” and so Wylder moved his kids and

Who could resist a guy who drove a Nash Metropolitan and sang “Mammy” at a “Music Man” audition?

• new wife into the glitzy community and commuted 20 miles to his job in Calabasas. Alice, meantime, opened a West Coast office for Lufthansa Airlines, which didn’t even fly into or out of California. Her job: to entice movie producers to use footage of Lufthansa jets in scenes that showed airplanes taking off, landing or flying in exchange for free tickets. “An early version of product-placement,” Modine says. Modine wrapped his time in high school around a year in the Philippines with his father, as Peace Corps volunteers. The Philippines were memorable for many reasons, not the least of which was the series of rabies shots Modine received after being bitten by “some kind of wildcat that got trapped in the house where we were living.” His time at Beverly Hills High, meantime, wasn’t much different than most people’s high school experiences, save for the fact that some of his friends had very famous parents. “I do remember once, when I was at Dean Martin’s house, and one of Deanna’s younger brothers, Dino, fired off a gun in the house,” Modine says. “That was kind of a wild one.”

Otherwise, Modine’s excitement came a few miles from Beverly Hills, on the Pacific Ocean. The release of the film “Gidget” in 1959 revived a sport that had all but disappeared, and Modine was one of the first to hop on board, so to speak. He took up surfing, and he and his pals combed beaches from Ventura to San Diego in search of the best waves. “Surfing was just kicking in,” he says, “and by the time I was a senior, I only had to go to school half-days, so we’d leave after lunch and go surfing every day.” Now in his 60s, it’s been a while since Modine was on a surfboard. But he still rides the waves. On a trip to Florida earlier this year to visit Alice, the woman who helped to raise him after his mother’s death, Modine says he hit the ocean every day. “I go body surfing every chance I get,” he says. “Any time I see an ocean with waves, I love to get into it.”


iven where and how he grew up, it was only natural for Modine to want to get into show business, too. He began by playing in rock bands. The first, which included his brother Ralph, was called the Paranoids. The last was called The Divine Comedy, and the band wore Renaissance outfits procured through the piano player, who was dating a casting director. “But the drummer got his draft notice, the bass player came down with colon problems and I was in a motorcycle accident,” Modine says. “It pretty much wiped the band out.” Modine modeled, too. His favorite assignment: a shoot for Teen magazine, wherein he spent several hours playing on the beach with, and body-painting, bikini-clad models. “And they gave me a paycheck for it,” Modine says. He also worked as a DJ at an FM radio station in Santa Ana, “but that was not my cup of tea,” he says. “They had a very strict play list, and after you’ve listened to ‘Wooden Ship’ by Crosby, Stills and Nash for the 80th time in a week, it’s driven you kind of crazy.” Mostly, Modine drove limousines to pay the bills. As the ’60s came to a close, he and a friend, Dick McCann, hatched a plan to drive an old VW convertible from L.A. to Tierra del Fuego, at the southernmost tip of South America. It went fairly well until, in Central America, they needed money and had to sell the car. “Once we sold the VW we had problems moving between countries,” Modine says, and at the Costa Rican border, they were denied entrance. They used some of their money to purchase plane tickets and fly across Costa Rica into Panama, but by the time they reached Bolivia – several thousand miles into their journey, and several thousand miles from their destination – Modine and McCann had had enough, and parted ways. “We just said adios and started working our way back home separately,” Modine says. “We were on foot walking, hitchhiking, sleeping outside. We’d get robbed on occasion.” The combination of the ill-fated trip, and the show business career that hadn’t gone much better, convinced Modine his life needed to take a different route. This time the highway was headed for Utah.


h no, here I am again,” Modine thought once he returned to L.A. “Every cab driver in town, every waitress, they’re all waiting for their big break in show business. I was looking at the odds, and they didn’t seem good.” magazine


His uncle Mark – actor Matthew Modine’s father – ran drive-in theaters in Utah, and Morgan had spent some summers there with the family “cleaning up garbage off the lot and beating up on my younger cousin.” His uncle gave Modine a way to move to Utah, work at the Ute Drive In, and establish residency before enrolling at the University of Utah. But the show business bug was not dead. Modine chose to major in radio and television production. He also auditioned for the lead role in a university production of “The Music Man,” where he certainly stood out to the director and his assistants. “Everyone else was singing songs from ‘The Music Man,’ ” Modine says. “I came in with the sheet music for ‘Mammy’ and got down on one knee, just like Al Jolson, and sang it. Everyone was aghast.” “Everyone” included a pretty student assistant director named Rhea Bottomly, whom Modine took notice of while down on one knee. When he spied her walking down the street later, Modine offered the young college student a ride in his Nash Metropolitan. Who could resist a guy who drove a Nash Metropolitan and sang “Mammy” at a “Music Man” audition? Rhea, that’s who. “She told me no,” Modine says. “It took some convincing, but she finally got in. I never had a chance after that. My wayward days were done.” Rhea Bottomly was from Great Falls, where her father Dick served as city attorney and her grandfather, R.V. Bottomly, had been an associate justice on the Montana Supreme Court. In no particular order, Rhea and Morgan graduated, were married (in an occult shop surrounded by shrunken heads and other strange things) and headed back to Los Angeles, where Rhea found more success in show business than did Modine. While he worked in a “boiler room” selling bankrupted Arizona properties, Rhea was hired as a “talent” scout for “The Gong Show” – a sort of early and very twisted version of “American Idol” wherein the worst of the acts (and virtually all of them were pretty bad) were gonged off the show. Hosted by Chuck Barris, the show featured a panel of judges (often Jamie Farr from “M*A*S*H,” Arte Johnson of “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In” and singer Jaye P. Morgan), plus an endless stream of cockamamie regulars, such as Gene Gene the

Dancing Machine and the Unknown Comic (a standup comedian who told terribly corny jokes while wearing a paper bag over his head). Rhea even got screen time occasionally, as a member of the alleged acting troupe, the Mighty Gong Show Players, but the job was demanding. “Chuck Barris was a madman,” Modine says, “although Rhea told me to point out that he was never an assassin for the CIA,” as Barris claimed in his autobiography, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.” “Rhea was working long, hard hours, going through acts all week long and taping two to three shows on weekends, while I was spending my days going to the beach and studying for my real estate license,” he says. “We had a little apartment above Hollywood Boulevard, a freak show out on the street every night, the traffic was terrible.” It all grew very old, very quickly. With his wife in tow, Morgan Modine left L.A. again. This time, it was for good.


irst stop: Hayfork, Calif., a tiny town in northern California where brother Ralph still lives. Morgan sold a version of the American dream in Hayfork: “Your own 20 acres with a creek running through them,” he says. “Then, two years later when the people tired of it and went back to the city, you’d resell it to the next person.” Morgan and Rhea also started their family in Hayfork, where eldest son Logan was born. A home delivery. In a log cabin. Five miles from town. “It’s something that I would never recommend to anyone,” Modine says. “It seems like a fine idea until the doctor looks up and tells you, ‘The fetal heartbeat is kind of weak.’ And there you are, the baby coming, you’re way out in the sticks, and there’s nothing you can do. It’s a very scary thing.” After about three years in Hayfork, the Modines moved to Hawaii, a move they quickly came to regret. “I took a job marketing auto insurance with a firm that I would most kindly describe as ‘marginal,’ ” he says. “It was run by a friend and the friend’s father, who was later indicted on some sort of charges, but they would fight all the time, and I mean bash each other up against walls. It was very stressful – and Rhea was eight months pregnant.”

• Rhea and Morgan have been married for 32

years and have lived most of that time in Missoula.

48 magazine

His time at Beverly Hills High wasn’t much different than most people’s high school experiences...

With another son, Austin, about to be born, the Modines returned to the mainland, this time to Rhea’s hometown of Great Falls. Where, Modine points out, Austin was born in a hospital. Modine was surrounded by lawyers once he landed in Montana: Rhea’s father, her grandfather, her brother, their brother-in-law. Montana seemed like a good place, and the law seemed like a very possible career choice. Eighteen years after he graduated from Beverly Hills High, Morgan Modine enrolled in law school in Missoula. Rhea returned to college too, to obtain her master’s degree in counseling.


s soon as he graduated from UM, Modine arguably became one of Missoula’s best known attorneys. “I have never played well in large groups, and I knew once I graduated I would hang out my own shingle” rather than join an established firm, Modine says. But that’s tough, opening your own firm fresh out of law school, with nary a client on your rolls. “You offer cheap divorces – there are always divorces,” Modine says. “It’s a way to get started.” He also turned to his show business roots and his undergraduate degree in radio and television production. Suddenly, attorney Morgan Modine was everywhere – on television and print ads, on billboards, on matchbook covers, on flyers he tacked up on supermarket bulletin boards – offering his help to anyone seeking an attorney. He called his firm “Action Law,” so it would appear first in the phone book. It was nearly a quarter of a century ago, long before attorney advertising was commonplace. The reaction from the legal community wasn’t much different from that day when Modine dropped to one knee and belted out “Mammy” at his “Music Man” audition. Other lawyers in town were aghast. “I guess it was kind of crazy, but it worked out,” Modine says. “I mean, I was scrambling that first year, but within a year I was making a living.” He loves the law, and the legal dramas that play out in courtrooms. In one of his most memorable cases, defending a man accused of raping a woman in a nightclub booth, Modine reaffirmed testimony under oath from police officers who claimed they found the man sexually molesting a woman so intoxicated, she was unable to consent. She was so drunk, the officers said, they had to carry her out of the establishment. With the woman testifying she had virtually no recollection of the night, the prosecution’s case relied almost exclusively on the police officers. But after making them go over their sworn testimony and asking if they were sure that’s what happened, Modine then played tapes for the jury from security cameras located in the club. The tapes showed something entirely different: the woman standing on her own accord while being questioned by police, at one point returning to the table unassisted to retrieve her purse, then exiting under her own power, with one officer’s arm around her in a supportive manner. The “not guilty” verdict came back in less than two hours. “Action Law” is a thing of the past – it’s simply Modine Law Office now, a longstanding Missoula firm buried deep in the Yellow Pages. Modine no longer has to practice family law, which can get very messy, and instead concentrates on personal injury, plaintiff work and criminal defense. Rhea, who spent years working as a counselor for Job Service and the Western Montana Mental Health Center, is now his legal assistant.

When he is not practicing law, Modine will sometimes fill in for Judge Don Louden at Missoula Municipal Court.

“I love trials,” Modine says. “They’re like doing improv.”

• “Rhea still directs me,” he says. “I tend to get emotional, and she tells me, ‘Slow down. Be a professor.’ But every once in a while you’ll still see a Morgan Modine commercial pop up on a local television station, even though he doesn’t need to advertise any more. He still likes starring in and producing the things. “That’s show business,” Modine says. “I guess it never really leaves you.”

Vince Devlin is a reporter for the Missoulian, stationed in Polson, covering Lake and Sanders counties. He can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or by e-mail at Michael Gallacher is a photographer for the Missoulian. He can be reached at 523-5270 or at magazine



50 magazine


Left: A visitor browses the exhibit “Elk Dogs” at the Lynda Frost Gallery for Contemporary Native Art at the Missoula Art Museum. Marie Watt installs her exhibition, “Heirloom,” recently in the Missoula Art Museum’s Lynda Frost Gallery for Contemporary Native Art. A closer look at the detail of Jaune Quickto-See Smith’s lithograph “Horse Sense.”

Marie Watt’s exhibition, “Heirloom,” runs March 19 to June 27 in the Missoula Art Museum’s Lynda Frost Gallery for Contemporary Native Art.


arie Watt unraveled hundreds of feet of braided wool, the framework on which to drape a 450-foot-long wool blanket, the centerpiece of her “Heirloom” exhibition at the Missoula Art Museum. The installation piece is providing her a rare opportunity to showcase her art in a museum gallery dedicated solely to contemporary Native artists, providing year-round discussion on their work. “In my tribe and Native communities, we give away blankets to honor people for being witness to important life events,” said Watt. “In this way, it is as much of an honor to give away a blanket as it is to receive one. Ultimately, wool blankets are simple objects with stories that connect us.” Indeed, Missoula Art Museum director Laura Millin said one of the primary goals of the museum’s contemporary Native art gallery is to educate people about Native life. “We’re in Indian Country,” said Millin. “And most people don’t have an understanding of the people or the culture.” The MAM has carved out a unique place in the museum world, dedicating space to contemporary Native art. But it wasn’t an easy decision, one that rested upon a simple question: Should we, or shouldn’t we?


illin remembers many discussions among Native artists and museum officials about creating a permanent display for modern-day Native art. Would they be ghettoizing the work, slipping it off into its own little corner with a big label? Why not just intermingle the contemporary Native pieces throughout the MAM? “The Missoula Art Museum chose to make this commitment to stretch and find new Native artists and bring the Native community into the MAM,” said Molly Murphy, an Oglala artist. “Most museums are reactive, but by featuring Native artists the museum is active in the Native community.” The museum granted Murphy her first solo exhibition, propelling the artist to greater notoriety. In March 2009, the Oglala woman won Best of Show at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, one of the country’s most prestigious juried art markets. Millin said the MAM realized the advantages of opening the gallery. To begin, it will increase the museum’s Indian collection and acquisitions. It will also provide an opportunity to advance scholarship on the MAM Native art collection. Furthermore, the gallery will expand the museum’s relationship with Native people. magazine


Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s pastel on paper titled “Betsy,” from the collection of Sharon Alexander, hangs in the MAM show “Elk Dogs,” focusing on horse imagery by contemporary Native American artists.

52 magazine


t’s one matter to have a great idea. But great ideas typically need solid financial backing. That’s where the museum’s board chairman, Marshall Delano, stepped in. While he supported the idea philosophically, the financial adviser also supported it with a generous donation. It ensured that a multimillion-dollar MAM remodel included an area to showcase Native talent. “I wanted to make sure one of the galleries was dedicated to Indian art,” said Delano, noting a dearth of gallery space in regional museums. “Unlike Santa Fe, where was the nice place for Indian artists to show their work?” Certainly, there had to be a better place than the state fair or selling art from the trunk of a car, he added. The MAM’s Native gallery now bears the name of a Salish woman, Lynda Frost. The naming comes in honor of the Salish tribe, which has made the Bitterroot and Clark Fork valleys a home for the last 10,000 years. Frost said the space gives Natives a place to call their own. Museum representatives are now

working on building a permanent endowment for the Lynda Frost Gallery, which has been available for Native exhibitions since the MAM remodel was completed about two years ago. “It isn’t just some pass through space,” said Millin. It’s in a prominent place. It’s been a real joy for us.” One of the first Native people to salute the gallery was Salish artist Juane Quick-To-See Smith, an internationally acclaimed painter who has had more than 80 solo exhibitions, lectured at more than 170 universities and earned three honorary doctorates. She has since donated more than 100 pieces of her art to the MAM’s permanent Native art collection. “She’s passing the word,” said Delano. “We’re the place.” Said Millin: “We’re in it for the long haul. It’s part of our vision to educate.”


att, a renowned artist living in Portland, Ore., embraces the exhibition area, giving her the opportunity to share her ideas and work. Her “Heirloom” exhibition provokes

cultural and universal themes sure to provoke discussion. “Freud considered blankets as ‘transitional’ objects, but I like to consider how these humble pieces of cloth are transformational,” said Watt. “Blankets are a part of how we are received into the world and also how we depart this world. Blankets are used for warmth and shelter. Children use them for hiding and to construct impromptu forts. A blanket is a catcher of dreams and ledger of secrets.” Jodi Rave is the Native American reporter for the Missoulian. She can be reached at 800-366-7186 or Or read her blog at Kurt Wilson is the Missoulian’s photography and multimedia editor. He can be reached at (406) 523-5244 or at Missoulian photographer Linda Thompson can be reached at (406) 523-5270 or by e-mail at

THE 2010 GLK STARTING AT Your Authorized Mercedes-Benz Dealer

3115 West Broadway, Missoula 721-4000 •

33 35,,900 900*

$$ magazine


A photo journal of wildlife seen from the road by kurt wilson

Montana Highway 382, October 1992 Ed Becker races his motorcycle between Perma and Hot Springs with Goosey out front. The goose, abandoned by its parents as an embryo, was hatched out by the family’s chickens and raised by hand in the farmhouse. It would follow the Beckers everywhere, including this brisk morning ride.

54 magazine magazine


U.S. Highway 93 South, November 2006 Their horns briefly locked during a fight for the attention of a nearby ewe, two bighorn rams play out a dance that has taken place for centuries in the wilds of western Montana. The battles between rams during the rut are among nature’s most exciting displays of strength and power.

56 magazine

Red Sleep Mountain Loop, May 2003 Framed in a drizzling rain on the windshield, a bison crosses the road on the National Bison Range. The photograph paired with a story in the Missoulian detailing the stormy relationship the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes were having at the time over management of the range. magazine


Tower-Roosevelt to Canyon Road, October 1996 On the morning following the first winter storm of the season in Yellowstone National Park, a coyote leaps through the air to capture a mouse under the blanket of snow.

58 magazine

U.S. Highway 93 North, February 2008 A large herd of elk gathers on the snowy slopes of the foothills of the Whitefish Range as another snowstorm blows across the mountains near Eureka. magazine


Cedar Ridge Road, August 2003 A pair of fawns peer out of the summer foliage in the O’Brien Creek drainage just outside of the burned area after a forest fire scorched much of the nearby landscape.

60 magazine

Beneath the Higgins Avenue Bridge, February 2009 A bald eagle lifts off of the ice on the Clark Fork River near downtown Missoula with a goldeneye firmly grasped in its talons. The eagle was one of two hunting the river and both appeared to have killed the diving ducks. magazine


pic by The Design Co-op

on the Hip Strip 521 S. Higgins 721-4777 Mon-Sat 10-7 Sun 11-4

your first choice for fabulousness fresh, contemporary and creative clothing, footwear and accessories check out our fashion blog at


atural Health

Bath & Body Products • Gift Certificates

china woods from the Orient

716 dickens • toole ave at the tracks • 550.2511 thursday - sunday 11 - 5 •

Professional Grooming & Training


Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Go Fetch?


Books & Candles Natural Makeup

.gofetchDOG.c ww


find it


Aromatherapy Flower Essences

Meadowsweet Herbs

180 S. 3rd W. • 728-0543 • Mon-Fri 10-6 • Sat 11-5

517 S Higgins • 627 Woody St • North Reserve • 728-BARK Professional Grooming & Training Now Offered at our North Reserve Location.

1 Free Ride with coupon exp. 6.30.09 value up to $1.50 (no cash value)

A Carousel for Missoula is the Place to



There is no better place in Missoula for GREAT AUTHENTIC Mexican Food.

Family OwnED


September through may • open 11am-5:30pm June through auguSt • open 11am-7:00pm 101 Carousel Dr. in Caras park • 406-549-8382

El Cazador Downtown • 728-3657 • 101 S. Higgins

ntown Free Estimates on Window Coverings

741 S Higgins • 542-8993 • 9:30-5:30 M-Sat.

live thoughtfully. 829 s higgins 406.543.1179 Fill Your Toybox with green toys!


Corner of 5th and Higgins

good for 15% off any one toy COFFEE FOR

FREE THINKERS MOOSE CREEK MERCANTILE Decor to make your home feel like a cabin or your cabin feel like home.

Furniture • Lighting Quilts • Artwork Kitchen Accessories • Gifts 314 N. HIGGINS • 549-5375

BUTTERFLY HERBS Coffees, Teas & the Unusual 232 N HIGGINS AVE • DOWNTOWN

book mark

new books a sure sign of spring in missoula


he days are getting longer, the sun is shining more, and Missoula’s streets are seeing more bicycles. What do you look for as a sign of spring? Seed catalogs? Prom dresses in the stores? Hiking trails clear of snow? Birds? Flowers? At the bookstore, it’s the arrival of late summer and fall catalogs. This listing of spring books features titles to be published between March and June, and was compiled using publisher catalogs, a few advance reading copies, and chance meetings with several authors and publishers. arch is the month that spring officially arrives, at least on the calendar. It’s a month of basketball madness, women’s history and eggs. Books Montanans may want to know about include:


64 magazine

“One Square Inch of Silence: One Man’s Search for Natural Silence in a Noisy World,” by Gordon Hempton and John Grossmann, Free Press It is said that noise is the new secondhand smoke. Would you recognize natural silence? Gordon Hempton, an acoustic ecologist and sound recordist, established what he calls “One Square Inch of Silence” in Olympic National Park’s Hoh Rain Forest in 2005, which he believes is the quietest spot in America. Hempton takes us aboard a 1964 VW bus on an eccentric road trip that zigzags here and there to enable him to introduce us to various people – both professionals and ordinary folks – whom he enlists to tell part of the story. Bill Worf, the founder of Wilderness Watch, is Gordon’s Montana guide, in a chapter called “Endangered Quiet Beauty.” Why

by barbara theroux photo illustration by linda thompson

isn’t natural quiet part of the ecological agenda? From rainforest to urban center, from rugged mountains to Midwestern prairie, the Earth is speaking. The book includes a CD of nature sounds. “How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction Doesn’t Have to Be Forever,” by Jack Horner and James Gorman, Dutton Montana paleontologist Jack Horner takes readers all over the globe to reveal a new science that trumps science fiction: how humans can re-create a dinosaur. In the 1980s, Horner began using CAT scans to look inside fossilized dinosaur eggs. At North Carolina State University, Mary Schweitzer has extracted fossil molecules – proteins that survived 68 million years – from a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil excavated by Horner. At McGill

University, Hans Larsson is manipulating a chicken embryo to awaken the dinosaur within, starting by growing a tail and eventually prompting it to grow the forelimbs of a dinosaur. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Saving Creationâ&#x20AC;? by Christopher Preston, Trinity University Press â&#x20AC;&#x153;Saving Creationâ&#x20AC;? is the compelling story of Holmes Rolston III, known as the â&#x20AC;&#x153;father of environmental ethics.â&#x20AC;? Rolston is celebrated for his advocacy to protect the Earthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biodiversity and for his critical work reconciling evolutionary biology and Christianity. Christopher J. Preston conducted countless hours of personal interviews with Rolston, his family members, and his close colleagues and friends to produce this straightforward and engaging biography. Preston teaches philosophy at the University of Montana in Missoula and is a noted expert on environmental philosophy. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Lanterns on the Prairie: The Blackfeet Photographs of Walter McClintock,â&#x20AC;? edited by Steven L. Grafe with contributions by William E. Farr, Sheryl L. Smith and Darrell Robes Kipp, University of Oklahoma Press In 1896, a young easterner named Walter McClintock arrived on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. A forest survey had brought him to Montana, but a chance encounter with a part-Blackfeet scout led him instead to a career as a chronicler of Plains Indian life. This volume features biographical and interpretive essays about McClintockâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s life and work and presents more than 100 of his little-known images, which provide an irreplaceable visual record of the Blackfeet during a pivotal period in their history.


pril is a turning point; we celebrate poetry, tolerate taxes and recover from spring break. A few titles to look for: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Savages and Scoundrels: The Untold Story of Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Road to Empire through Indian Territory,â&#x20AC;? by Paul VanDevelder, Yale University Press What really happened in the early days of our nation? How was it possible for white settlers to march across the entire continent, inexorably claiming Native

American lands for themselves? Paul VanDevelder takes as his focal point the epic federal treaty ratified in 1851 at Horse Creek, formally recognizing perpetual ownership by a dozen Native American tribes of 1.1 million square miles of the American West. The astonishing and shameful story of this broken treaty â&#x20AC;&#x201C; one of 371 Indian treaties signed during the 18th and 19th centuries â&#x20AC;&#x201C; reveals a repeated pattern of fraudulent government behavior. VanDevelder is a journalist and author who lives in the Pacific Northwest. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Double Eagle,â&#x20AC;? by Sneed B. Collard III, Peachtree Publishers Young readers will be excited to know that Missoula author Sneed Collard has a new adventure that starts in the year 1862 when a Confederate ship, the Skink, is attacked by Union forces and sinks off the Alabama coast in the Gulf of Mexico. Although the ship was rumored to be carrying newly minted gold coins, no trace of the wreck and not even a single piece of Confederate gold is ever found. Fast forward to 1973. Mike is prepared for another routine summer in Pensacola with his marine biologist father. But plans suddenly change and Mike finds himself on Shipwreck Island, near the site where the Skink went down and right in the middle of a century-old mystery. â&#x20AC;&#x153;By Cold Water,â&#x20AC;? by Chris Dombrowski, Wayne State University Press Chris Dombrowskiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new collection of poetry uses natural inspirations to journey into a complex world that is both beautiful and threatened. When he describes a starfilled sky, a sheet snapping in the breeze, or the seasonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first snow, Dombrowski draws readers completely into his world, to see




how he has lived, loved, and survived in a particular place. Dombrowski has worked as a river guide, poet-in-the-schools, and teacher of creative writing at the University of Montana and at Interlochen Center for the Arts. He and his family reside in Missoula.


t’s May, it’s May the lusty month of May, where everyone runs blissfully astray.” Great words from the musical Camelot aside, it is a month of new beginnings as graduations and new sights in the outdoors lift our spirits. Perhaps some of these books will add to your pleasures: “You Can Be a Nature Detective,” by Peggy Kochanoff, Mountain Press Why do a tree’s leaves change color in autumn? How can mushrooms suddenly appear overnight? What made those tracks in the snow? “You Can Be a Nature Detective” helps you delve into these and other intriguing mysteries of the natural world. With the goal of getting kids outside and exploring, author Peggy Kochanoff uses breathtaking watercolors and informative text to spark readers’ interest in investigating the wonders of Mother Nature. “The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet,” Reif Larsen, The Penguin Press T. S. Spivet is a 12-year-old genius mapmaker who lives with his family on a ranch in Divide, Mont. His father is a silent cowboy and his mother is a scientist who for the last 20 years has been looking for a mythical species of beetle. When the Smithsonian Institution calls with news that T.S. has won a major scientific prize, T.S. embarks on a life-changing adventure. The highlight of the book are the notes, many dozens of illustrations and narrative elaborations connected to the main text via dotted lines are on nearly every page. “The Pass,” by Thomas Savage, joint publication of Riverbend Publishing and Drumlummon Institute In the Winter 2008 edition of “Montana: The Magazine of Western History,” Alan Weltzein had a wonderful article about the life and

66 magazine

times of author Thomas Savage. Best known for his acclaimed novels “The Power of the Dog” and “The Sheep Queen,” Savage was an extraordinary chronicler of the American West. “The Pass” was Savage’s first novel, written in the 1930s and originally published by Doubleday in 1944. The book, set near Savage’s hometown of Dillon, takes place around 1910 when the area is newly settled. New rancher Jess Bentley struggles against the elements, against fate, and against all odds to run a successful outfit that will be suitable for his beloved new bride, Beth, and the baby the doctor warned them they would never see. “Lost in the Meritocracy: The Undereducation of an Overachiever,” by Walter Kirn, Doubleday Walter Kirn, a peerless observer and interpreter of American life, gives us a memoir of his own long strange trip through American education. Working his way up the ladder of standardized tests, extracurricular activities and class rankings, Kirn launched himself eastward from his rural Minnesota hometown to the ivy-covered campus of Princeton University. There he found himself not in a temple of higher learning so much as an arena for gamesmanship, snobbery, social climbing, kissing up and recreational drug use, where the point of literature classes was to mirror the instructor’s critical theories and actual reading of the books under consideration was optional.


une sees spring become summer as vacation plans, farmers markets and beautiful sunsets mark our days. More spring titles to consider: “Born Wild in Montana,” photography and text by Donald M. Jones, Farcountry Press Montana is where the wild things are – baby wild things. This collection of candid and comical images by respected wildlife photographer Donald M. Jones is devoted entirely to the state’s junior residents, from red fox kits to red-necked grebe chicks, great gray owlets to black bear cubs. One of the most respected wildlife photographers in the country, Jones has spent the last 20 years viewing and photographing wildlife from the Florida Everglades to the Arctic.

His real love, however, is for his home state of Montana. “Rewilding the West,” by Richard Manning, University of California Press “The most destructive force in the American West is its commanding views, because they foster the illusion that we command.” Thus begins Richard Manning’s account of the American Plains. As he tells the story of this once-rich, now mostly empty landscape, Manning also describes a grand vision for ecological restoration, currently being set in motion, that would establish a prairie preserve larger than Yellowstone National Park, flush with wild bison, elk, bears and wolves. “The Bottom of the Sky,” by William C. Pack, Riverbend Publishing When I asked Chris Cauble at Riverbend Publishing about spring titles, he was most enthusiastic about “The Bottom of the Sky,” a debut novel that tells the story of Levi Monroe and his sister, Lam. After one sibling abandons the other, the raw and tender story travels to Wall Street, which provides the novel with its fast-paced action and suspense. Whether describing the dusty confines and eccentric customers of a Montana saloon or the ostentatious offices and fraudulent deals of corporate titans, Pack’s knowledge of these disparate worlds comes from his own life. Pack grew up in poverty in rural Montana, slept on floors and worked odd jobs until landing a tryout as a stockbroker for Merrill Lynch.


here you have it, a long list of things to occupy your varied reading tastes this spring. Thanks for reading and for continuing to share your discoveries with me. As you are reading this, I am buried in advance reading copies, looking for the next exciting mystery, biography, history or Montana tidbit to pass along. Barbara Theroux presides over Fact & Fiction Downtown, 220 N. Higgins Ave., in Missoula. She writes about and reviews books for the Missoulian and magazine. Missoulian photographer Linda Thompson can be reached at (406) 523-5270 or by e-mail at


spring fling spring fling


by bob meseroll photos by tom bauer

George Kesel has been fly fishing and tying flies since he was a teenager. Since moving to Missoula in 1999, he’s gained a reputation as one of the top fly tiers in western Montana.

eorge Kesel is a confessed “flytying geek.” He reads about a new pattern, then sits right down at his bench to tie it. The catalogs come out with new materials, he buys them, “at least in one – if not all – the different colors.” “As a fly tier you are almost necessarily a fly junkie,” said Kesel, owner of Kesel’s Four Rivers Fly Shop on Reserve Street in Missoula. “When the new materials catalogs come out, I go through them and everything that looks cool, I order at least one to take a look at it. I just enjoy it.” First, though, he tied out of necessity. Kesel started casting a fly rod when he was about 11, while growing up in Pittsburgh. His grandfather told him he

had to wait until he was 13 before he could actually venture to a stream. “He told me he would not allow me to fly-fish until I was 13 because I bugged him a lot,” Kesel said. When he reached the magic age, his grandfather sent him out with a handful of Light Cahills, a staple in East Coast fly boxes. “I went fishing for an evening hatch of the Light Cahills, and when I came back I informed my grandfather I was out of flies,” Kesel said. “He said that was a season’s supply. I said the only reason I’m home is they’re gone. My grandfather said if you care to fish tomorrow you better start tying, and so I tied my first fly on the day I made my first cast to a fish.” And he hasn’t stopped since.

continued on page 70 68 magazine





herzer’s old favorite skwala stonefly

No. 1 George Kesel begins tying Herzer’s Old Favorite skwala stonefly on a No. 10 3X long hook by tying in a foam egg sac, rear, a strand of brown floss for ribbing, and a body of hare’s ear and African goat. 5

No. 2 Then he ties in a wing of dark elk hair. No. 3 Kesel takes another clump of elk hair to use for the bullet head, trying to match the length so that when it’s folded back, it becomes a part of the wing.


No. 4 He then adds some more dubbing at the thorax before pulling the elk hair back to form the bullet head. No. 5 To finish it off, Kesel ties in several turns of grizzly hackle and brown hackle in front of the wing before tying the fly off with a whip finish. No. 6 The completed Herzer’s Old Favorite skwala stonefly. magazine



esel worked in the sporting goods industry in Pittsburgh and took a fly-tying class after college “that really rekindled my interest in a big way.” On his lunch breaks, Kesel would wander down to the local fly shop and eventually landed a part-time gig. That led to a job at a catalog store in New Boston, N.H., in 1986. After 12 years in New Hampshire, Kesel’s brother Peter talked him into moving to Missoula. He first opened his shop on Higgins Avenue in 1999, then moved it to Reserve. In the relatively short time Kesel’s been in western Montana, he’s gained a reputation as one of the top fly tiers around. He chalks it up to his many public appearances for groups like Trout Unlimited, but anyone who’s had the chance to watch – and listen – to him tie knows it’s more than that. It’s a talent, like any other. Kesel says it’s the attention to detail he loves. That probably stems from the type of fishing he most enjoys: “I enjoy matching hatches.” Give him flat water – preferably on the Bitterroot River – rising fish and a riddle to solve. “Rising fish to a specific hatch and solving that problem,” Kesel says in describing the perfect scenario. “To a fish that you’ve identified as hopefully large. I’m not going to say I always identify the large fish. I always identify them as hopefully large. “Having grown up in Pennsylvania on the limestone streams there, flat water doesn’t make me nervous. I enjoy matching hatches. I’m more baffled by bouncing water than I am by flat water.” And given his choice, he’s a dry-fly man. “That’s for sure,” Kesel said. “There’s

a lot of your upbringing in that, too. My grandfather just didn’t nymph, that just wasn’t done. Because you just didn’t nymph, I learned to streamer fish and dry-fly fish as a kid. I’m still a less than adequate nymph fisherman.”


pring on the Bitterroot River means the skwala stonefly hatch, although the western March brown, baetis and nemouras are notable hatches as well. Kesel recently took a few minutes to tie a skwala pattern, Herzer’s Old Favorite, named after Four Rivers outfitter John Herzer. “It’s his Old Favorite because when we first moved here we needed this fly in the shop because it was John’s favorite skwala,” Kesel said of the bullet-head pattern. “Then, of course, he moved on to some new favorites. Every year we always seem to drift back to the Old Favorite, the first one we tied.” Which is kind of the nature of fly tying, Kesel explained. “The fish don’t really change their habits very much, it’s the fly tiers,” Kesel said. “I’ve been selling flies since 1984 and flies go in fads just as everything else does. The resistant flies to the fads are the Adams, the hare’s ear, the pheasant tail. There are other staples, but most flies run in fads.” Kesel continues tying the fly, spinning on the dubbing, which is a mix of hare’s ear and six or seven colors of “African goat.” African goat? “You try to use a Eurasian goat or any other goat, it’s not happening,” Kesel said dryly. A friend walks in the shop to get some tying materials, and to engage the talkative Kesel in his favorite subject. “How are you Brad?” Kesel says. “Thinking of going fishing?” “Tomorrow,” Brad replies. “That’s some crazy talk,” Kesel shoots back. Kesel completes the pretty skwala pattern and clips the barb down, since he’ll put it in his own box rather than up for sale. Also in his spring box will be March browns, blue-winged olives and nemoura patterns, along with nymphs of those same species.

My grandfather just didn’t nymph, that just wasn’t done. Because you just didn’t nymph, I learned to streamer fish and dry-fly fish as a kid.

70 magazine


pring fishing can be tricky around these parts. Too cold, and the water won’t warm up enough for the hatches. Too warm, and the rivers will muddy up with runoff. “The ideal day is catching the weather after four or five days in the 50s, then you hit the cloudy day,” Kesel said. “We love the clouds, but the warmth does help move the fish. “The best part of spring fishing is there are certain times when some very large fish are moving. They are hungry; their metabolism is just starting up after four months. “And the rivers are about as low as we’re going to see them all year long, especially in the early spring when the nights are cold and the days are warm, you get great wading and that really appeals to me.” Kesel no longer ties out of necessity. It’s not the thought of the fish he’ll catch on his flies that keeps him at his vise either. Tying has become an end in itself, something tangible he can put his hands on once he’s finished. “You accumulate finished products and that makes you feel you’re accomplishing something,” Kesel said. “It’s attention to detail. When I’m tying flies there’s a great deal of attention to detail and I enjoy that. “Many of the flies I tie I take pleasure that someone else is going to take them and go catch fish with them. For me, when I sit down to tie for myself, it’s because I look in my box and say, ‘Oh, horse feathers, I have problems,’ and off I go. It has become more pragmatic, but I have not lost the love for tying.” It’s been said there are two types of flies: flies that catch fish and flies that catch fishermen. Which does Kesel tie? “What I try to do is tie flies that catch both, that have eye appeal and fish appeal,” he said. Bob Meseroll is the Missoulian’s sports editor and an avid fly-fisherman. Reach him at (406) 523-5265 or by e-mail at Tom Bauer is a photographer at the Missoulian. Reach him at (406) 523-5270 or at

Know Your Vino ...continued from page 13 is good manners to help clean before you leave. Choose the wine. This, in my opinion, is the best part of planning. There are many different ways you can handle wine selection and you can change it up as much as you like. For example, select the grape Chardonnay and assign each person the task of purchasing a Chardonnay from different regions around the world. This will help club members better understand the versatility of the grape and how climate and region affects it. Or you could select New World white wines under $15. How about having each person bring their favorite red wine or even narrowing it down to favorite Italian reds? The possibilities are endless, so don’t be afraid to be creative. Keep in mind that for tasting purposes, each pour should be about 1 to 2 ounces. This means that for 10 or fewer people, one 750-milliliter bottle should be enough. Furthermore, when trying 10 to 12 different bottles of wine, 2 ounces is plenty and hopefully you won’t find yourself passed out on your guest’s dining room floor. Drink responsibly, and do not let others drink and drive – you may want to have a designated driver on call or a taxi. Blind tasting – where the tasters don’t know which wine is in which glass – is your best bet for learning. Concealing the wine’s identity ensures you are not swayed by a wine’s reputation or label. The power of suggestion can cloud a taster’s ability to honestly evaluate a wine. Seeing the label,

whether consciously or unconsciously, can influence your impression of the wine. Blind tasting will also help you better understand the fine nuances of a wine and the characteristics of a specific grape or region. For example, you may know you are drinking a Sauvignon Blanc from California even before seeing the label, as you have learned the aromas that are distinctive to this grape and region. Use brown bags or foil to conceal your wine, and number each bottle. The wine will then be identified and judged by the number on the bottle.

No party would be complete without food, especially if selected to pair

with your wine. Food can enhance your wine experience and also help in your own food and wine pairing skills. However, because food affects the taste of wine and vice versa, my suggestion is to do a quick run through of all your wines before eating. You can use plain baguettes or simple crackers to cleanse your palate between wines. After rating your wine, then go back and try it with food. A great way to incorporate food is to have each member do some research on what food pairs with his or her wine and bring a dish for everyone to sample. This way, one person isn’t stuck in the kitchen all day preparing food for the meeting. You will learn some wonderful new recipes to add to your own collection.


asting and rating the wines is important to enhancing your wine education. Bring a notebook or have pens and paper on hand for everyone to take notes. After reviews and tabulations are complete,

the wines should be unveiled one by one. During this time, everyone should be able to offer comments about the wines and their rankings. To make the evening a bit more interesting and educational, research the wine, winery and wine-making region. Your fellow members will probably find the information interesting and will appreciate your effort. Before everyone in the group goes their separate ways, take the opportunity to discuss the next meeting: Who will be the host? When and where will it be? The theme? With very little effort, you and your circle of friends can get together on a regular basis to enjoy and broaden your knowledge and appreciation of one of life’s greatest pleasures. Regardless of your knowledge level, this is a great way to enhance your wine experience. However, be prepared to be surprised by wines you thought you knew, the wines you didn’t know even existed and the range of wines you find most enjoyable. Most of all, have fun with it. Enjoy the company and, of course, be sure to show off your newfound wine knowledge. Kate Murphy writes about wine for the Missoulian and Keep the conversation going on her blog, Missoulian photographer Linda Thompson can be reached at (406) 523-5270 or by e-mail at magazine


Bonner Mill ...continued from page 35 of good, hard-working people.” To be sure, there were a lot of lighter moments. To listen to Glenn Smith’s stories, horseplay was as much a part of daily life as the mill whistle that echoed through the canyon at the start of each day, swing and graveyard shift. “When I was on green chain we had some great snowball fights with the stull mill guys,” recollected Smith, who moved with his family to company housing in Bonner in the 1940s and worked at the mill from 1960-2005. “Someone would always yell ‘Stull mill sucks!’ and, boy, I’ll tell you the air was full of snow.” He remembered the day Buck Teague instigated the battle. “He stepped off the green chain and mouthed off to the stull mill crew, and he was going to step back in and get his snowballs and get ready for the fight,” Smith said. “He went back underneath the green chain and ran right smack into a steam pipe. Laid him out cold.” Smith chuckled. “Those are some of the good old days.”

72 magazine

Within two months after Gregg Bauer graduated from Missoula Sentinel High School in 1974, he was pulling green chain in the new plywood plant. Working for most of his years on the dryers, Bauer survived the changeover to Stimson Lumber in 1993 and continued working until the plywood plant was closed down in July 2007. He liked working graveyard shift in the early, unmarried years. “I can remember times when a few of us would get off at 7 a.m. and go to Taber’s truck stop in East Missoula and have breakfast,” he said. “Then we would go across the street to the Reno (Inn) bar and have beers and shoot pool ‘til noon or whatever.” Bauer said the best pranks seemed to come during the night shifts. He remembers the night one worker duct taped an air hose to a plastic bottle, then turned on the air line. “Bad timing,” he said. “About the time it blew, the supervisor was going by. I think there was a job opening the next day.”


hese days the “old timers” meet for coffee at the Town Pump Truck Plaza in West Riverside, built on the site of the Western Lumber Co. mill that operated

from 1911-1931. Thursdays, another cluster from the plywood plant have breakfast at Paradise Falls in south Missoula. They trade the kind of stories, ribbings, boasts and jokes that were integral to the lifestyle of millworkers at Bonner for 122 years. Bailey started working there even before Anaconda’s “pushbutton” era began in 1963, “a very unique time frame,” he said. “I was hired when the majority of old timers and the people that really knew the mill were about to retire and move on,” he said. “Those people took me under their wing and carried me through those times and taught me their trade. “Of course a lot of storytelling went on. But they were wonderful, wonderful hard-working people that you just couldn’t help but love. I cherish that, and I will until I die.” Kim Briggeman is a reporter for the Missoulian and the blogger behind He can be reached by e-mail at Historic photographs courtesy of Glenn Smith.

Brett Gallery BrettThuma Thuma Gallery

“Morning At 2 Dog Flats” Canvas Giclée Print Now Available Brett Thuma Gallery . Downtown Bigfork (406)837-4604 .

Eva Gates

Homemade Preserves Est.1949

Montana’s Original Wild Huckleberry!

Corbett Custom Lighting, Inc. Excellence in Lighting Design since 1974 You are invited to visit our new showroom at 29771 Hwy 209, Bigfork MT Please call for an appointment! (406) 837-5823

Free Brochure Shipping Worldwide 1-800-682-4283 Bigfork, Montana

parting shot

p.s. photo by kurt wilson

74 magazine

Ah, the things that spring brings. Bare feet. Baseball. Longer days and lingering light. And laughter. Joyful noise of play centered near home.

Welcome Home. 406 541-6550 2800 S. Reserve Street | Missoula


Trout Meadows River Ranch Missoula, Montana

Profile for Missoulian Magazine April-May 2009 Magazine April-May 2009 Magazine April-May 2009 Magazine April-May 2009

Profile for tadhmmm

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded