Local Historian Highlight: Darris Flanagan
Darris Flanagan is certainly an asset to the Tobacco Valley. Besides being a natural historian who thoroughly enjoys investigating how things unfold and who was involved and where exactly did events take place, Darris also has astounding knowledge of our community. Often at some public event or in a restaurant, someone will come up to Darris with questions about where the old Shay Ranch was located or who was the first doctor in town. Darris is a walking repository of the region's history. He makes some of this available in the numerous books he has written about the valley. He knows so much more though than what is in the books and is always willing to share this with whoever has a question. His knowledge and his genuine interest in the history of the region give substance and respect to the people who live here. They see that their lives and the lives of their parents, grandparents and others who settled in the valley are to be treasured. For example, who from outside the area would spend time and effort to do a written history of Trego? Darris had people asking for that book before it was off the press. Here was a published book that gave locals in that tiny crossroads a better understanding of their place and their people.
Besides working for the US Forest Service, Darris has put in time teaching, logging and working in a sawmill. Now that he is partially retired, he is an active community volunteer. He serves on the Tobacco Valley Board of History, a nonprofit organization that maintains the Historical Village museum, grounds and archives. He also volunteers at Sunburst events although he swears he doesn't like music. And he reaches out in many other ways to make this community shine. His neighbors know that Darris will help with any task at the drop of a hat.
So if you are looking for a good read about the Tobacco Valley, pick up one of his books. His titles include: "Indian Trails of the Northwest Rockies," "Adventures Along the Fort Steele Trail," "The Montana Christmas Tree Story: An Historic Saga of Boom and Bust," and "Skid Trails: Glory Days of Montana Logging." You can find them at the Antler Inn up Grave Crk Rd., Vintage Warehouse in Fortine, the Fortine Merc, or Eureka Office Supply.
About the Author: Rita Collins. I am a believer in the power of community and for now I call the Tobacco Valley home. I have lived in nine states and three counties and this community here amazes me - how people reach out to neighbors and even travelers. I've never lived in a place that demonstrates people caring for each other so well. And I've never lived in a place that has such a high percentage of talented musicians and artists. I work with the the Sunburst Community Service Foundation, a nonprofit that began in Eureka twenty years ago and now serves numerous communities in western Montana. And I just started a new business, St. Rita's Amazing Traveling Bookstore and Textual Apothecary. I never could have imagined life being this exciting in my sixth decade.