I often lament the changes I've witnessed in Montana, but it seems this practice has become more and more of a habit. I make no secret that I wish time would rewind back to when I first moved here, when my quiet little town had less than 2,000 people and beautiful land wasn't sold off and subdivided. It's no secret that a lot of long-time locals and multi-generational families aren't pleased with the "progress" in Montana. I'm not originally from Montana, but I did come here to live a quiet life, with no desire to change anything.
Unfortunately, change came with a vengeance. In the sixteen years since I've lived here, the population of my little town has more than doubled. What was once beautiful farmland has become house-covered hills. A shopping area in the nearby town that serviced the residents more than adequately has swelled to allow for an excess of everything, and so much that we don't need.
Yes, I lament the loss of my Montana way of life. I know many families who have lived here all their lives, whose families helped build these small towns, and when they talk about what's happening, there's a deep sadness that sweeps into their eyes. I believe people should come and enjoy the beauty of this magnificent land, but they shouldn't change it—shouldn't want to. Don't get me wrong, Montana is still one of the most stunning places I've ever been, but it's lost something special—something that can't quite be put into words—on this road of "progress," and I don't know if we can get that back.
I've been on the search for a place still relatively untouched by "progress." When I find it, I can only hope and pray that it will remain that way.
This is primarily what draws me to write books set in times past; to have seen the raw beauty of the west. My latest published work, Hattie of Crooked Creek, is a new short story in the Crooked Creek series set in post-Civil War Montana. I've always enjoyed researching and writing about nineteenth-century Montana; just enough progress for people to live better lives, but not so much that the way of life is destroyed.
I hope you enjoy this new glimpse into times past.