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.

 

 

 

 

Woman On Horseback Crow Fair

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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.

And So It Continues

Back in the far distant past the First People began leaving marks on the walls around them. Simple designs, sometimes no more than a scratch, perhaps signifying that they were there. We call these marks petroglyphs.

As time went on the marks grew more sophisticated, representing more elaborate concepts. Animals, human shapes odd to our eyes, strange swirls or repetitive parallel lines in a group perhaps indicating a river or stream. These were just a few of the shapes amongst thousands left on canyon walls, along stream beds, in caves, anywhere the people went.

The most important of the images they placed on the surface of their surroundings was the shape of the human hand, their hands, the hand of the individual making the drawing. This mark said here I am. I am a person. I am important. Know all of you that I have been here. These are known as pictographs if they are painted onto the surface of the rock.

Usually the images created were chiseled into the surface of the stone by hammering the design into the surface of the rock by striking it with another sharper more pointed stone, chipping away the dark patina of the rock leaving an indelible lighter contrasting representation of the design, a petroglyph. But occasionally a simpler more direct method was used. By simply placing their hands into a medium such as paint or even mud and pressing their palms against the stones surface they achieved the same result although a much more impermanent one, but the meaning was the same, a pictograph. Here I am, I leave my mark for you to see.

That type of image creating usually did not stand the ravages of time, especially if it was left exposed to the elements, but they are found in caves and other protected places looking much as they did when they were created.

We think of these kinds of images as something out of history. An art that served its purpose but has been replaced by newer forms of image creating. Yet it appears that is not totally the case. These handprints on the metal in the image above were left by the direct descendants of those First People just a few days ago at a place that is itself historically significant.

Every year along the banks of the Little Bighorn river there is a reenactment of a famous battle called the Battle of the Little Bighorn where General George Armstrong Custer and all the men of the 7th cavalry under his command were engaged by a superior group of Indians including chiefs Sitting bull, Crazy horse, Gall and others. The result is well-known as it was a critical victory for the tribes fighting to remain independent and self-sufficient. Custer and his men were decimated to the last man.

This year the reenactment of that fateful battle took place on the 23rd, 24th, and 25th of June, on the Real Bird ranch adjacent to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument near Crow Agency, Montana and included members of the Crow tribe and various groups representing the cavalry. Each side took great pains to be as true to the period as is possible today, with the cavalry in full uniform and equipment and the Indians in full regalia and paint with even their horses painted for battle.

So it was not surprising to see these modern pictographs placed at the site where the warriors of today watered their ponies and waited for the fighting to commence along the Little Bighorn river, near the ford in the river that led to that fateful battle site.  Somehow it’s comforting to see the continuation of these same handprints used today as they were millennia ago. Young men partaking in a mock battle yet still requiring their total participation both mentally, physically and spiritually. By creating these new pictographs they are saying, I too, am here. I am a Man. I am important. History and tradition is moving on through this time period as it has since the beginning. And so it continues.

 

Cloud Cutting

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Many of you long time readers are aware of *The Institute’s weather modification program. We developed this ability to modify and even create certain kinds of weather early on in The Institute’s development. This was done for many reasons, all of them altruistic, but mainly for money. The Institute is expensive to run and maintain and we seek funds wherever we might find them.

We have different projects in the works constantly to fund our operation, from our innovative metal can retrieval program from the roadsides of our Nation’s highways to assisting NASA with their Space Program by supporting probes to Uranus and beyond. We have an outreach program where we have housebound or incarcerated individuals address envelopes for various corporations to help keep the Post Office’s Junk Mail program alive. That keeps untold dozens of postal workers busy and gainfully employed. There is no project too small if it assists us in maintaining the integrity and longevity of The Institute and brings in a buck or two.

Our supremacy had been untouchable in the weather modification arena and we had been so far out front that you had to jump up in the air real high to even see our dust. Then the Aussie’s got in the game. Man, they are tough. Their program to limit rain and cause desertification of huge areas, if not all of their country, has been unassailable. Our program to “drought up” California has been good but we can’t even touch what the Australians are capable of. Which is difficult for us to admit. Right now they’re the ones we watch.

Because of their (we’re talking about those miserably overachieving Aussies here) ability to make inroads into the weather modification business in general, we have had to look for other areas of the business to augment our extensive programs. We believe we’ve hit on something the rest of the WeatherMod group hasn’t touched yet and that is the untouched field of Boutique Weather. This is a small business at this time but we think the potential is absolutely enormous.

There are many very wealthy States that have incredible tourism businesses. States like Colorado, Utah, Arizona ( a biggie ) Montana, parts of New Mexico and when they pay their bills (which is why we have them in a “droughtie” right now) Northern California that are looking for that edge to keep those tourists coming in and to keep them there longer. That’s where we come in. We are already supplying many of those states and other small touristy kind of countries with custom-designed sunrises and sunsets. With our new custom “Cloud Cutting” ability we can custom tailor those sunrises and sunsets by ‘cutting’ the edges and shapes of the clouds so that they can feature or highlight a tourist drawing element, by allowing the light to be directed on them for maximum viewing pleasure. Think, Devil’s Tower, or parts of the Grand Canyon, Isis for instance, where before you had a pleasant sunset that sort of showed off the various elements of the scene, but now with our Patented Applied For “Cloud Cutting” technology, those individual elements can be seen by those money-toting tourists much more clearly and colorfully than ever before. Talk about making it rain greenbacks, we can hardly keep up with the demand for these new custom tailored clouds. Now coupled with our ability to create clouds of any size, shape or profile we feel we have a real winner here. Need God beams, we can do that. Need tiny or large holes or openings in your cloud for extra special effects? We can do that. Right now the sky’s the limit, so to speak.

The image featured above is over the Eastern edge of The Institute’s testing grounds where we work on many of our new weather projects. This is the program at work using the new “Sun nibbling” feature where we are sculpting the edge of the cloud to perhaps highlight a small secluded cove on the Eastern Seaboard, or perhaps one of the little canyons that feed into the Grand Canyon, or a meadow up in Yellowstone where elk graze in the early morning or evening. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

We have high hopes for this new element in our Weather modification program and already interest is running high for this unique new addition and we see big things on the horizon. Watch the sky above and stay tuned for further innovations.

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind.

 

A Glimpse Of The Past

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Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the eagles is. They is right there in Yellowstone in the Eagle tree off of Madison Junction road. Well at least they were until a big wind storm blew the nest down taking the tree with it. These eagle nests can get extraordinarily heavy. There was a nest down in Florida that was recorded at nearly 3 tons, that’s slightly more than a Cadillac Escalade balanced up there on those spindly little branches.

When the wind came through it caused the entire tree with it’s top-heavy nest to fall over and that was that for close up bald eagle viewing on a nest. The nest had been there in that tree in continual use, for the entire 12 years I had photographed in Yellowstone. It would often be my first stop as I entered the park from West Yellowstone, Montana in the morning, which is when I caught one of parents above shoving Gobbets of something freshly killed down juniors throat.

The eagles are still there in Yellowstone, they’re still building nests and filling them with eaglets, they’re just not doing it along side the road where you could stop and watch every aspect of their lives anymore. There were folks that would camp out at the 100 yard perimeter that the park naturalists put in place to protect the eagle viewing area from people approaching to close to the tree and disturbing the birds. They’d be there from early morning to the last light of sunset for days at a time to observe and learn bald eagle behavior.

This is nature at work, the tree was blown down, the eagles had to move on and build another nest somewhere else, and that part of the eagles exposure to bird lovers was done. Nobody’s fault. I’m just thankful I got to take as many photos as I did over the years. I still miss the nest not being there though.

Fire In The Meadow

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There is a special meadow near a village called Red Feather high in the Rocky mountains of Northern Colorado where magical things happen. If you sit still and watch you may see a coyote slowly hunt across it’s grass-covered surface, pausing here with cocked head to listen, leaping there if it hears a mouse scamper through the new grass. Or see a Red-tailed hawk glide majestically out of the surrounding timber to splash its shadow across the land below as it too looks for it’s next meal.

Hummingbirds flit from flower to flower sipping the nectar from the new blooms and helping to pollenate the plants in this untamed garden. Before long the grass will be knee-high and cover the shorter blooms leaving you to discover them as you walk slowly through the dew covered stalks early in the morning.

There is an old fence line that divides the meadow into unequal portions, meaningful to  the humans who like to section things off and say that’s mine, but meaningless to the life that occupies or uses the ground on either side of the old rusty wire. Silent things that grow and stand tall and wave in the fresh breezes that occasionally wend their way down from the Never Summer mountains, their color dotting the meadowland like jewels left to catch the sun.

Now that the last of winter’s snow is making up its mind whether it will melt or not the earliest of the spring flowers are starting.  The Lenten Rose and Pasque flowers are peeking out beneath the snow close to Easter. Winter Aconite and the Common Snowdrop are breaching through the snow-covered meadow displaying their blooms, plus a favorite of all who see it, the Wyoming Indian Paint brush is beginning to appear. That pyrotechnical colored perennial that migrated down from the open plains of Wyoming and Montana to gently settle here and become a favorite native in this high meadow. It’s red and orange and yellows the exact colors of newly lit campfires. Scattered throughout the tall grass these brilliant flowers give the appearance of fire in the meadow with their brightly colored heads waving in the wind.

Spring is here, even though we just had a blizzard that produced a couple of feet of snow. The snow is nearly melted already and leaves in its wake what the locals call Mud Season, those several weeks of melting snow and saturated ground and mud everywhere. That’s spring in the high country. Enjoy it while you can. And while you’re at it go see the fire in the meadow. That’ll make you feel good.

And thanks to those gentle stewards of the land, Jack and Peggy, for the opportunity to photograph there. Enjoy your special place.