Ellis McElry Goodson Gentleman Rancher

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One of the driving forces, if not the main one in the early West, was the rancher. The cowman. The man who put his money where his mouth was. He fought Indians, rustlers, the weather, bad luck, fate itself in establishing his mark on the West. It took more than determination, more than desire, it took iron resolution and the strength and courage to persevere in the face of every kind of adversity imaginable. And he did. It was men like him that created the West.

Back in the mid 1860’s you managed your ranch with an iron hand and common sense, yet with a common core of ethics, a strong sense of morality and a vision. If he was your friend he was your friend for life. And he expected no less from you. This was big land and it took a big man and others like him to settle it.

This is Ellis McElry Goodson. He was an early settler and rancher near Bannack, Montana, a mining town in Southwestern Montana and he sought his fortune in the cattle business rather than mining like everyone else. There was more than one way to strike it rich.  After all miners had to eat too. A man could make a good living for himself and his family by proving the meat for a hungry mining camp. Miners paid dearly for a good steak and the currency was gold. He was essential to the existence of many a town and that made him very wealthy and an important figure in the community. He never called himself a gentleman rancher. That would be unseemly. But everyone else did. When he was mentioned in the ever present conversation that went on in every saloon, street corner, and general store he was called Mr. Goodson, gentleman rancher. He was thought of with respect and he earned it every day. That’s the way it was in the West.

Mothersell Montana

Town of Bannack, Montana, current time 2017, sister city to Mothersell, Montana. Looking down Main Street towards the East past the Spokane Mining House during an Autumn Snowstorm

 

This is primarily a story about Mothersell Montana, a mining town in name only most of the time. It is located on the Little Locust river eleven miles upstream from the confluence of the Little Locust river and Grasshopper creek, and is nestled into a low valley surrounded by hills containing some of the richest gold ore ever assayed.

Mothersell is similar in nature to Bannack, Montana, its sister city, which is also a mining town located six miles below the confluence of the two gold-laden water sources, but different in one major aspect. The difference will become apparent as we learn more of the town’s history. Bannack was a major player in the gold rush days being the first capitol of Montana, and a center of much of Montana’s history, but it is best known for making early miners rich as they mined and pulled gold out of Grasshopper creek at a huge rate. Those days were the town’s high point but after the gold panned out the town’s days were numbered. Folks began to move out, marching forward in the eternal quest for wealth and the better life.

Bannack still stands in a faded slightly rundown state, a mere shell of its former glory, near Dillon, Montana in the Southwest part of the state. Now a State park and tourist attraction where well meaning folk come to see what it was like to live in an early Montana mining town. The buildings, most of them now saved from certain destruction by the elements, neglect and time itself stand proudly along the towns main street and can be entered and explored at will. It offers a glimpse of what towns looked like in the mid 1860’s. The good people of Montana have seen fit to invest time and money into bringing the town back from the brink of disaster, not to mention oblivion, and should get a hardy thank you and any other kind of support one is willing to provide.

The difference between the two towns is dramatic and unbelievable if you are able to suspend belief in the story itself. Bannack is rooted in history and the present in a very tangible way. You can go there. You can walk its streets. You can enter the buildings and feel the presence of the souls of those who lived, loved and died there. Whereas Mothersell couldn’t be more different.

Mothersell exists in a place where time acts differently. It is a place where its very existence depends on your good fortune, not its own. If you are one of those people that luck has smiled upon you can stumble across the actual townsite where Mothersell is located and if you have been particularly fortunate the town will come into focus and solidify and exist as it was, or always is, if you will, and you may become a part of its life for what ever time is allotted to you.

As mentioned before time has a particular strange way of occurring here. When you enter Mothersell you leave the current world around you behind and become an active participant in its daily life. But remember, time is strange here, what may be a day or so in your other world may be a year or more in Mothersell. During that time you forget about your other existence and live instead in a golden haze of happiness and contentment. Everything you ever wanted is now available to you but only so long as you reside in Mothersell. The town itself will soon recede from its current existence and return to its place outside of your time. If you are fortunate enough to be accepted by the town you can and will remain with it and leave your old life behind you. If through some terrible act of providence you aren’t accepted, you return to your normal life except you get to keep your memories of that glorious time spent within its confines. Which you will find are both a treasure and a curse. Fate has a way of playing cruel and unusual jokes on the unwary. It’s been said “Make a plan, God needs to laugh.”

Unlike Bannack which will undoubtedly be there for you to visit for the near and foreseeable future, Mothersell is a fleeting unattainable place to revisit. Once is all mere mortals get to have and if it doesn’t work for you it is not available again. It is still there just slightly set aside on a different plane from our existence. Sometimes if the light is just right and you are paying particularly close attention you can see it floating just out of your reach, a treasure, like gold, but even more difficult to obtain.

Unfortunately cameras don’t work in Mothersell. All you get for an image is a golden glow instead. So instead images from her sister city Bannack have been used. The two towns were very close in the style of architecture and placement of their buildings so these images almost convey what it was like to be there. Of course there is no way to convey the actual beauty and undeniably wondrous presence of the town itself but for that you have to have had the most precious gift of all. Being able to have been there for awhile. Who knows, perhaps if the gods decide to take part in our lives again the town may reappear but that of course is up to them. If so I’ll be waiting.

 

 

 

 

Sees Past The Clouds

                  crow camp 2015

There, way off in the distance, past the lodges, past the meadows, past the trees, past even the clouds, there is something important happening. Some arresting movement, something that makes one pause, something that bears close scrutiny and causes both woman and horse to stop and watch intently. Is it real, or is it perhaps a vision. Maybe she’ll tell us when she talks her dreams. Until then we can only see her and wonder what it is that she sees, there out past the clouds.

Woman On Horseback Crow Fair

                                  click image to enlarge

This is a portrait is of a woman on horseback in the Sunday morning parade held during Crow fair. The original photo was taken during the 2014 fair. It has been enhanced to appear as if it is a painting in the style of the old masters and was done to bring out the beauty and strength of the subject and to feature her regalia in the best possible light. Be sure to click on the image to see it full size on your monitor.

One of the highlights of the Crow Fair is the parade that is presented Sunday morning. To put it mildly it is spectacular and that is an understatement. Nearly everyone who has brought a horse to the fair enters the parade and is assigned to a category they wish to participate in. Categories included were “Women’s Old Time Saddle”, “Men’s War Shirt”, “Women’s Nez Perce”, Women’s Buckskin”, “Women’s Elk Tooth”, “Teen Boy’s Reservation Hat”, “Men’s War bonnet”, and many more. Each category shows off different aspects of traditional dress. The woman in the image above was entered in the “Women’s Buckskin” category.

Crow Fair, called the “Tipi Capital of the World,” is an annual event held the third weekend in August on the Crow Reservation at Crow Agency in Montana. It is one of the largest Native American events in North America and is run by a committee of the Crow tribe. There can be over a thousand teepees set up during the fair, along with parades, powwows, rodeos and other events too numerous to mention. To see more posts about Crow Fair simply type in CROW into the search box at the top of the page and hit enter. There are dozens of posts about Crow Fair with many pictures to show all aspects of the fair. Also be sure to visit our sister site http://www.OpenChutes.com to see more posts of Western Events. OpenChutes is a blog exclusively dedicated to Powwows, Rodeos, Cowboys, Indians, Indian Relay Races, Mountain Men, Rendezvous and any other western event that may occur in the Rocky Mountain West. Enjoy your visit.

Light In The Darkness

                                                          click to enlarge

Often I am struck by the simple beauty of light and darkness at play in this chaotic busy world we live in. We are constantly bombarded with sensory input giving us a continual flow of information from every direction at an accelerating pace until life becomes a blur.

Phones are ringing, screens are feeding us images at a nearly subliminal rate, traffic, crowds, demands from thousands of sources clamoring for our attention, we are in a constant state of call and response. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. We are fast losing our ability to be affected by the simple, the understated, even beauty for its own sake.

While walking through my version of heaven not long ago I came upon this single flower standing alone reaching for the light above, bathed in soft sunlight, stunning in its beauty and was moved by the arresting stillness of it. The play of light and darkness was soothing. The resemblance to an old master’s painting from a far simpler time when people had the ability to be moved by the natural beauty around them came rushing over me like a deluge of happiness. I thought I’d share it with you today, just in case your life has been hectic lately.

Grand Canyon Diorama

This is the proposed sketch for the new Grand Canyon diorama. Due to possible governmental budget cuts (by shortsighted bureaucrats and other government officials with comb overs), where our National parks’ funding for upkeep and improvements is considered a frivolous and unnecessary expense, we have been contacted by the state of Arizona to create a diorama that would be viewable from the various lookouts and other vantage points most used by visitors today. This would be undertaken to help offset some of the detrimental effects that would occur from this shortsighted but lucrative action.

The officials of Arizona, where some of you know the Grand Canyon is currently located, have indicated a growing concern for the likely loss of tourist dollars if large portions of the Grand Canyon are closed to view. The new Wingnut in charge of overseeing our Nation’s National Parks and wildlife’s well being and good health as well as other parts of our citizens lives and freedoms here in our good but not great enough yet country, is proposing that not only should funding be cut for the maintenance of our park system but actual use of the parks should be curtailed as it would be more beneficial to the overall public good if those individuals who insist on visiting our national parks and take nonprofit advantage of its beauty, would stay home and tend to their coal burning furnaces and visit places more suited to enhancing our economy, such as the various golf courses, gambling casinos, high-rise hotels and other privately owned profit centers.

To aid in encouraging this new type of activity large areas of the Grand Canyon will simply be blocked off and closed to viewing. Some of it may simply be filled in and leveled off for building new golf courses, gambling casinos and high-rise hotels and to make it simpler to mine the minerals that may lie beneath now useless land under the Colorado river drainage. This hither to now unused property has not yet been fully developed to extract profits that could be gained by strip mining, river diversion, etc.

Well this could be an unmitigated disaster as there are many people here in America who like to go to these areas, especially the Grand Canyon, just to look at it. They like it. It makes them feel good in a way that is different from losing their money at the craps table in high-rise hotels with gambling casinos. They, the visitors, spend money on bumper stickers, frybread, the occasional hotel room, binoculars to look into the Grand Canyon and other national wonders, t-shirts with pictures of the Grand Canyon on them and phrases like “I’m with Dumbass” and arrows pointing in different directions indicating where dumbass might be, margaritas, sunglasses to replace those that fall into the Grand Canyon, new $8000 digital cameras with even more expense lens’s and straps to keep them from falling into the Grand Canyon when they’re leaning closer to get better pictures, sunburn prevention systems, and tattoos of the Grand Canyon, as you can see the list goes on and on.

With all of the possible catastrophes that could and probably will befall our most scared traditions and places we like but don’t really make the kind of money that large commercial ventures make, the officials of Arizona called and said “Hey, looks like we’ll need some dioramas. Better get busy.” What you see above is the first draft of one of the new Grand Canyon dioramas we are preparing for installation as soon as word comes down to kill the parks. This will be slightly different than our usual 3-D dioramas such as the one in Yellowstone National Park as we cannot get the necessary permits to construct and install our normal fiberglass and concrete dioramas. Instead this will be a 6 mile wide by 47′ ¾” high canvas roller, much like the old window shades you used to get at Woolworths. Remember? The kind that if you let them go before they got to the bottom they’d snap up and roll around the wooden spring thing at the top of the window making this cool flapping sound, then the canvas is mounted on tasteful cast iron or aluminum 60′ uprights shaped like Saguaro cactus in front of each view that you can no longer see as it is gone.

We’ll only be installing these on the South rim as there won’t need to be any for the North rim. Access will not be available to the public as that is where the bulldozer ramps and conveyor belts down to the canyon floor will be set up. Plus the tailings from the ore extraction will be dumping back into the river and that would be dangerous for the public to go wandering through that stuff.

We’d prefer to do the old style diorama as we have to cut slits in the canvas of these new ones to let the wind through so they don’t shred themselves. But since we can’t, there it is, make the best of it. Since most people have short little spans of attention they most likely won’t even remember what the real deal looked like anyway.

It looks like we’ll be making dioramas for the full 137 miles of the canyons length as once these new directives go into effect they’ll be busting hump to get this place shut down and development underway. Let us know if you like the new look of the replacement or not. We’re  going with it regardless but it’s always fun to hear  what you think about it.

In the interest of full disclosure the image above is a photograph taken at the Grand Canyon then run through several versions of software that includes Photoshop (Yes Virginia there is a Photoshop and we use it) to produce an image that looks like a painting. But then you knew that just by looking at it.

Rain On The Hoodoos

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We were at our favorite observation point at Bryce national park observing the state of the rock formations in the Valley of the Non-essential Hoodoos when it suddenly began to rain. That in itself is not that unusual, however it was only raining on this one particular set of hoodoos. Not on any of the other hoodoos, (of which some say there are too many of, but we disagree thinking that one cannot have too many hoodoos), but just on these particular hoodoos. As if by design. As if it was being created by some unknown entity just to rain there and nowhere else. A weather modification as it were.

“Hmm,” we said to no one in particular “this has the look of some nefarious organization at work here. Could it be *The Institute?” But then we remembered that The Institute had gone bosoms up, as they say, hunted down and removed root and twig, never to be a formal Worldwide organization again. All of its minions, staff, even its Director cast to the four winds to seek employment elsewhere or to starve pathetically in a ditch somewhere. It’s tons of equipment melted down for the slag market. All of its records, data and spiral notebooks snapped up by its jealous vindictive competitors to be pored through for their secrets. Secrets The Institute had developed over years of blood sweat and tears, not to mention hard work and no small amount of intellectual theft.

We were interested yet dismayed to find that a certain huge, yet well-known imaging processing software company (who shall remain nameless, but whose initials are ADOBE) have blatantly appropriated the Weather Modification program pioneered by the Oceanography and Atmospheric weather modification team of the now defunct organization known as The Institute and incorporated it into its shoddy yet expensive software. You can find it under Adobe/ Photoshop/ Filters/ Make it Rain on the Hoodoos/ Light/ Moderate/ Heavy. To support the claim that The Institute first developed this program we have done some research and found several items that reference The Institutes use of its weather modification program to do good in the world and not do bad, which we have listed below for your perusual.

 

Bad Weather Day

All Dreams Must End

Storm of The Full Moon

Moon Painting

Cloud Cutting

Stored Away Storms

Greenery

Behind The Ridge

Thor’s Revenge

Although those of us that remember The Institute are pretty darn mad at that heartless yet soulless large Company that apparently is getting filthy rich off the sweat of the people who made it all possible, we kind of secretly like the ease of how they made it work. The Institute’s program was unwieldy, requiring lots of nuclear power and boring deep into the bowels of the earth for the pilings that held up the equipment and to keep it from shaking causing the neighbors cows to abort. Not to mention the excessive production of enormous quantities of EMF’s around the power shed whenever they fired that stuff up. If by some stroke of fate The Institute ever returns we may just appropriate it for our own use again. Be warned Adobe whats good for the goose is good for the gander.