Indigenous Place Names

by Skip Via

If an enterprise or place name here in the valley doesn’t begin with “Glacier,” there’s a good chance that it begins with “Flathead.” We live in Flathead County, in the Flathead Valley drained by the Flathead River. There’s Flathead Valley Community College, Flathead High School, Flathead National Forest, Flathead Lake, the Flathead Beacon…

But where exactly does that name come from, and what does it mean? There’s a clue in the Flathead County Seal, but there is much more to the story.

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NMFA Firefighting Images

by Skip Via and Barbara Boorman

Editor’s note: Images provided by Barbara Boorman as an accompaniment to her article about fighting wildfires. Captions are transcribed from the reverse side of the photo. To read Barbara and Pat’s history of firefighting in the Flathead Valley, click here.

Lillian Neas Boorman and Bertha Boorman on tower of Blacktail Lookout, Sec. 18 T 26N. R 21 W. 7/30/1935
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Fighting Wildfires in Northern Montana 1911-1960s

by Pat Jaquith and Barbara Boorman

Editor’s note: Captions on these images are transcribed from the reverse side of the photo. For more images from Barbara’s collection, click here.

In 1910, there were disastrous fires in northern Idaho and northwestern Montana when
hundreds of thousands of acres of timberlands were destroyed; many lives were lost, and much
property outside of the forests was destroyed.

In May, 1911, many timberland owners and other owners of other property in northwestern
Montana met and organized the Northern Montana Fire Association (NMFA), a non-profit organization for protecting life and property in the region. A.E. (Albert) Boorman became the Chief Fire Warden and secretary/treasurer of the organization.

The boundaries of the area covered by the NMFA were from Whitefish south to Nirada (north of Hot Springs) and from Kalispell west to Lost Prairie, McGregor Lake, and Flathead Mine. In 1921, the NMFA charged $0.015 per acre to anyone – forest owner, rancher, homesteader – who appreciated the availability of a firefighting crew in the area should the need arise. As A.E. Boorman said in a Daily Interlake interview in 1921, the organization charged just enough to cover costs “and no more.”

A. E. Boorman, Blacktail Lookout. Probably July 10, 1934.
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Schools of West Valley

By Jeanine Buettner

West Valley School was opened in 1961. But what was schooling in the valley like before that?

Stillwater School

Stillwater School first opened on January 21, 1899. The first building was a small log cabin on the Henry Bird place on the corner of Clark Drive and Stillwater Road. All eight grades were taught here with just one teacher.

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The Ashley Creek Ditch

by Jeanine and Kevin Buettner
and Skip Via

The Ashley Creek Ditch was an irrigation system developed in the early 1900s to supply water from Ashley Creek to farms in the west valley area of the Flathead. The Ditch was not a county or state project; rather, it was paid for and maintained by the families that used the water. It’s no longer there, having been dismantled in the late 1970s due to changing agricultural practices and the increasing availability of tapping directly into the aquifers for irrigation. But its story is a prime example of the ingenuity and work ethic that early settlers in the area shared.

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West Valley Pioneer: Edmond Levi Kelley

by Jeanine Buettner

Edmond Kelley was born in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, on April 18, 1860 and was educated and lived in Pennsylvania until coming to Montana in 1885, first locating in Butte and then moving to the Flathead Valley in 1887. He spent his first night in Somers. He was told that the valley farther up had some value as a range for cattle but of no value for farming. The next day he walked to the site that would later become Demersville.

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West Valley Pioneers: Frank and Ida Stiles

by Jeanine Buettner

My great grandparents Frank and Ida Stiles moved to Kalispell in 1901, from Corona, South Dakota where Frank was a farmer, school teacher and a member of the House of Representatives. They packed everything they owned including farm machinery into a boxcar and made their way to the Flathead Valley, bringing with them their four children, my grandfather T. Milton being the youngest.  

Frank and Ida Stiles
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West Valley Pioneer: Walter Jaquette

by Jeanine Buettner

Walter Parke Jaquette was one of the Flathead’s early pioneers. He was born October 16, 1863 in Oxford, Pennsylvania to Peter and Eleanor Jaquette.

Walter was from a very prominent Pennsylvania family. His great great grandfather Maj. Peter Jaquette served under Washington during the Revolutionary war. His great grandfather Capt. Peter Jaquette organized and furnished a great extent of company horses for the military. His father Peter L. Jaquette was a veteran of the Civil War and was at the White House when President Lincoln was assassinated.

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Late Summer and Early Fall at Ray Kuhns WMA

by Pat Jaquith

Late August, 2021 Wheat ripening under smoky skies

The historic Ray Kuhns homestead off Farm-to-Market Road between Kalispell and Whitefish is under MFWP management as the Kuhns WMA (wildlife management area). 100 acres of the 1556.5A parcel are leased for farming to improve the soil, control noxious weeds, and provide food and cover to benefit deer and upland game birds. In this article, you can read more about this public resource in our community.

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State Symbols in West Valley

by Pat Jaquith

Over the years, the State has adopted plants, animals, stones, songs, and other artifacts as symbolic of Montana. Here are several that I have collected just because I found them interesting, beautiful, awesome, and wonderful. Only recently have I discovered that these have gained such stature. Scroll down to see if the images inspire a reaction in you!

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