The Trail Magazine
Gary Montgomery's penning of the past.
Montana memories, missives, diaries, poems, photographs and observations
The trail is the thing not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for. Louis L'Amour
Gary Montgomery's penning of The Trail Magazine, has preserved many memories, missives, diaries, poems, photographs and observations that otherwise would have ended up in the venerable dustbin of history...
It began in 1992 while I was the proprietor of a small printing and photo processing business in Eureka, Montana. I began to meet a handful of the surviving oldtimers and more often their children who had shared the hard work and privations that go along with homesteading or just living in a rural environment. They brought in pictures and papers to be copied and I got to know them personally. I also came to know some Kutenai Indians whose reservation lies eight miles away across the border in Canada and realized that the history of the Tobacco Plains country did not begin with the arrival of white people.
Eureka, which occupies the heart of the Tobacco Valley, had a bright future from its inception when the Great Northern Railroad routed its transcontinental tracks through in 1904. Prior to that, there had been a brief period of cattle ranching, but it was James J. Hill, president of the Great Northern Railroad, who put Eureka and all the little nearby towns on the map. The Tobacco Plains Journal went into production immediately and its editor, G. E. Shawler, began to extol the area’s commercial potential. He foresaw mines honeycombing the surrounding mountains and trainloads of ore heading for smelters. Productive fruit and vegetable farms would dot the valley, their produce filling boxcars on their way to cities across the land. But it was the vast stands of timber that ultimately fueled the economy with farming and mining amounting to little or nothing.
Originally appropriating the first newspaper’s moniker, Tobacco Plains Journal, this small quarterly historical journal became simply, The Trail in 1996. Contents of The Trail commonly include an interview with oldtimers, odd, interesting or bizarre stories reprinted from the old newspapers, vintage photographs, personal memoirs and diaries and some period fiction. Although we solicit advertising, the ads themselves are often derived from an historical source and are interesting in their own right.
A common refrain that we hear is, “I sat down immediately and read it from cover to cover.” Although our material centers on a small part of northwest Montana and southeast British Columbia, many of our readers who have never set foot in this part of the country still find The Trail an interesting read.