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© Richard Knight
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Photo Info
UploadedFebruary 21, 2011
TakenOctober 24, 2010
ModelCanon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure1/160 sec at f/3.5
FlashNo Flash
Focal Length9.975 mm
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Q: So how many issues of JPG magazine were produced?

A: Do you know?

Photo license: © All rights reserved

[Cooke City, Montana (Pop. 140), on U.S. Route 212, at the Eastern Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, Monday, October 17, 2010]

I was in Boise, Idaho the previous week for an army reunion and, coincidentally, a meet-up with four other JPG members, but now I was making my way east to Denver to catch a plane home to Nashville.

I arrived in Gardiner, Montana, at the Northern Entrance to YNP on Saturday, October 15, and had a decision to make. I could keep driving, or I could stop for two days to watch college and pro football. I found a Best Western with a good cable television package . . . and stopped.

I awoke early Monday morning to dire weather forecasts of hail, sleet, and snow. For a moment, I wondered whether I should turn north and catch the Interstate at Livingston, Montana. That would give me a smooth, if nondescript, ride all the way to Denver. However, my heart was set on the far more exciting drive through Yellowstone to Cooke City, then to Cody, and finally to Sheridan. That would mean crossing the Northern Absaroka Range and the Bighorn Mountains . . .

I knew that U.S. 212 (the “Beartooth Highway”) east of Cooke City could "close for the winter" on a moment’s notice, but it was worth the try. From Park Headquarters at Mammoth, I turned east and crossed Yellowstone’s northern frontier. Ice crystals hit the windshield, but there was little accumulation, and the wind-swept roads were dry. Ninety minutes later, I was in Cooke City.

I stopped to take some photos of this extremely isolated, hard-pressed village. Since I was not a guest, I was careful not to park on the grounds of the Soda Butte Lodge for fear of what could happen!

Skeletons of dead trees (shown) speak to the conflagration that burned down almost half of Yellowstone and much of the surrounding national forests, and came within an eyelash of torching Cooke City (and the Park’s Old Faithful Inn), in 1988. Many books have been written about the great fires, but the best book on the subject is, in my opinion, “Fire in Paradise,” by Micah Morrison (HarperCollins 1993). It is a scathing indictment of the “politics of environmentalism.”

Years later, Yellowstone’s “burn” policy is unclear. I “think” that natural fires (lightning strikes, for example) will be allowed to burn out on their own, even if the entire ecosystem is consumed. Other fires, that is, fires caused by humans, will be suppressed by human means.

I stayed ahead of the storm and decided to stretch my luck by detouring east to South Dakota’s Black Hills. I reached Hill City, South Dakota in plenty of time for Monday Night Football. But, it was here that the snowstorm caught up with me.

Many of you will remember this October storm, which was accompanied by fierce winds. Thousands of scheduled flights from Denver to Boston were cancelled.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

64 responses

  • Bruce Miller

    Bruce Miller (Deleted) gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    Beautiful! Is there a bridal suite?

  • Litz Go

    Litz Go gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    Love this and your narration as always. You are mesmerizing, RV! If you published a book, I would love to read it, so just let me know when. 'K.

  • Kris C

    Kris C gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    Love the photo and the story!!!!!! Keep up the great work Richard!!!!

  • Lanis Rossi

    Lanis Rossi gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    Great photo and narration my friend!

  • elfriede fulda

    elfriede fulda (Deleted) gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    Great b&w, so interesting, it looks so desolate, you have caught the mood for sure, excellent narrative as always,

  • Susan Littlefield

    Susan Littlefield gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    And what a meet-up it was!!! But that's another story. Fabulous capture here, and so glad you chose not to intentionally draw the ire of the Lodge owners. Who knows to what locale you might have been towed (or worse!!). We were in Yellowstone last summer, and the remnants of the fire were still very visable, as shown in your photo. As you know, the weather in that area is not to be taken lightly; we have personal experience with road closures and 'it ain't pretty'!! Fabulous photo and narrative, T!!

  • Chris Jennings

    Chris Jennings gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    You have caught the feeling of cold, isolation and loneliness in this fine image. Congratulations.

  • peggy maguire

    peggy maguire said (21 Feb 2011):

    I envy your travels Dick and wish I could see all that you have in person !!!I love the shot of this hotel and wish you many more trips that way I can experience all your travels !!!

  • Steve Baker

    Steve Baker (Deleted) gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    Perfect shot, Dick.

  • Nancy Richard

    Nancy Richard gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    Interesting shot, but I love your narrative even more. Boy, you do some traveling!!! You just got back from YNP, and you're going again in March? WOW!

  • Carol Holmes

    Carol Holmes gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    Extraordinary image and you are a great storyteller! I am surprised you do not have a book with all your adventures in it. : )

  • Carl Kuntze

    Carl Kuntze gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    Beautiful black and white. Could illustraate a Stephen King novel.

  • Tom Piorkowski

    Tom Piorkowski (Deleted) gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    This is a great image, nicely done.

  • daniele castellucchio

    daniele castellucchio gave props (21 Feb 2011):


  • Leslie Hunziker

    Leslie Hunziker   gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    wonderful capture! where do we call for reservations?

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    Sounds like you had a quite a hazardous drive..The narrative and picture here are both excellent... .I think we had a bit of that storm yesterday in our February blizzard...Really snowed under and the wind is still blowing.

  • Camera Junkie

    Camera Junkie gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    Awesome shot and, as always, excellent and enlightening commentary. It's amazing how much beauty there is in desolation...

  • JamesHarmon McQuilkin

    JamesHarmon McQuilkin   gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    I love older buildings--they say so much--love the tones, pov, and contrast

  • Winky Vivas

    Winky Vivas (Deleted) said (21 Feb 2011):

    A wonderful image and an outstanding narrative, Dick!

  • Debrah Leonard

    Debrah Leonard (Deleted) gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    Very handsome photo!

  • Debrah Leonard

    Debrah Leonard (Deleted) gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    voted YES for member of the week

  • Donald Garrett

    Donald Garrett gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    What an experience!!! "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." Great work

  • Betty Maxey

    Betty Maxey   gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    Always a fantastic storyteller. You have a wonderfully endearing way with words cousin!! We would love that book!! Love the capture too!!

  • Suzanne McGeady

    Suzanne McGeady said (21 Feb 2011):

    Oh I just love your narratives Richard. Such a desolate place...so apt in the mono. Please pray for the people in our city of Christchurch where another huge earthquake has struck at 1.41 pm today, 22.2.11. - and many dead. Apocolypse to say the least.

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (21 Feb 2011):

    You surely keep us educated my friend!

  • eithne mythen

    eithne mythen gave props (22 Feb 2011):

    Love this building with it's long narrow windows almost as tall as the door, love the dip in the roof of the side roof, you make your travels so exciting to read aboutI always enjoy them..

  • Jim Ford

    Jim Ford (Deleted) gave props (22 Feb 2011):

    Wonderful image and a good read Richard!

  • Ronnie Ginnever

    Ronnie Ginnever gave props (22 Feb 2011):

    The B&W really works well with this old structure + your gift as a storyteller = excellence!

  • Deborah Downes

    Deborah Downes gave props (22 Feb 2011):

    You truly are a gifted storyteller and teacher. Your narrations always add such depth to your images. This one is perfect in B&W. The living trees speak pf survival and hope.

  • Tori Lindo

    Tori Lindo gave props (22 Feb 2011):

    Deborah hit the nail on the head!! Awesome!

  • Carlo Pagan

    Carlo Pagan gave props (22 Feb 2011):

    WoW!!! WoW!!! WoW!!! Fantastic B&W!!!

  • Joy B

    Joy B gave props (22 Feb 2011):


  • James Pommerening

    James Pommerening gave props (22 Feb 2011):

    Wow! Great shot

  • Vicki Koch

    Vicki Koch said (22 Feb 2011):

    Thank you for taking us on the trip with you.... glad football won out... there must always be time for football. Like this capture and thank you for your comments on my photos as well.

  • Saroj Swain

    Saroj Swain gave props (23 Feb 2011):

    beautiful !!!

  • Heather Mellon

    Heather Mellon gave props (23 Feb 2011):

    Awesome view of desolation!! Your narrative really brings this area to life for the rest of us.. it's fascinating!

  • Oregon Curly

    Oregon Curly (Deleted) gave props (23 Feb 2011):

    A Most Excellent Photo, brought to life with an equally wonderful narrative. Thanks for taking us along on a portion of your trip.

  • sandeep mishra

    sandeep mishra gave props (23 Feb 2011):

    Nice one!

  • Steven Schutz

    Steven Schutz gave props (24 Feb 2011):

    I wonder what this lodge looked like during it's heyday....Love reading your narrative...wonderful photograph...

  • dawn duffield

    dawn duffield gave props (24 Feb 2011):

    I am thinking with the cold and the fact that this establishment is missing a front door, you stayed elsewhere, Dick?

  • Roy M. Gunnels

    Roy M. Gunnels gave props (24 Feb 2011):

    Beautifully framed and superb in monotone,a step back in time...Matt

  • Debbie Smartt

    Debbie Smartt   gave props (24 Feb 2011):

    Ah the life of Riley! Man I love your travel stories! I can't wait to meet-up again!

  • Lise Utne

    Lise Utne gave props (24 Feb 2011):

    Thanks again for a great story, picture and words!

  • P. Michael Bodigor

    P. Michael Bodigor gave props (24 Feb 2011):

    Wonderful photo and background story. Keep on truckin.

  • Carol Arntsen Masiak

    Carol Arntsen Masiak gave props (25 Feb 2011):

    grabbed my eye and interest - well done!

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (25 Feb 2011):

    And the killer series continues...

  • Dunja Kolar

    Dunja Kolar gave props (25 Feb 2011):

    great photo!!!like it

  • Regenia Brabham

    Regenia Brabham gave props (25 Feb 2011):

    I really do enjoy sharing your travels! I am glad you did not get stuck in a storm and miss your games. Great shot!

  • Nelson Campbell

    Nelson Campbell (Deleted) gave props (25 Feb 2011):


  • Michael Ball

    Michael Ball gave props (26 Feb 2011):

    Always an interesting read! Wonderful B/W!

  • dp *

    dp * gave props (27 Feb 2011):

    Awesome, great read and photo.

  • Judy and Wayne Wanamaker

    Judy and Wayne Wanamaker gave props (27 Feb 2011):

    A great installment to your saga! What a great trip you had! You find some very interesting old buildings (the Fishnet Motel leaps to mind). This one really piques my curiosity.

  • Shirley Valencia

    Shirley Valencia   said (27 Feb 2011):

    GREAT! super lesson.... Did you put your car in the garag? lol

  • Patty Gross

    Patty Gross (Deleted) gave props (28 Feb 2011):

    How wonderful, Richard!!! I love this shot and the narrative....I miss them terribly when you're away. Dave has been here he said....when he was in the Air Force in the 60s he was stationed for several years at Great Falls. He loves anything to do with Montana. You certainly had an interesting trip and a dynamite meetup, I'm sure!! Hope to see your photos and read your most interesting stories soon again, and more often!!

  • Maria Mutch

    Maria Mutch (Deleted) gave props (28 Feb 2011):

    Dilapidative excellence, and -wow- the name of the lodge! That's an apocalyptic sign right there, nevermind parking threats... Great B&W!

  • Rhio9 (Rhio9)

    Rhio9 (Rhio9) (Deleted) said (2 Mar 2011):

    very good. my mother lives in lewistown. ive been to butte and bozeman and billings. you done some excellent work here and i like looking at the pics. very well done mood to them all. great title.

  • Christopher J Chalk

    Christopher J Chalk gave props (3 Mar 2011):

    Love the building, great in B & W. May I ask what have you done to Lynda mate, isn't she cooking for ya :) Keep enjoying yourself my dear Friend!.........Chalky

  • Karen K Smith

    Karen K Smith gave props (4 Mar 2011):

    Simply EXCELLENT!

  • Alexis - Now on Flickr

    Alexis - Now on Flickr gave props (4 Mar 2011):

    Wonderful fine and record, great tones too

  • Warren ~Mangione~

    Warren ~Mangione~ gave props (24 Mar 2011):

    Great accounting of your trip and very nice B&W, Dick!

  • Lisa Starling

    Lisa Starling gave props (29 Mar 2011):

    I love this one!! Nice B&W!

  • William Garvey

    William Garvey gave props (9 Apr 2011):

    Richard, I know you must do some writing. You have a way of drawing the reader in. Nice job on two fronts, the photo and the rest of the story.

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper gave props (20 Dec 2011):

    Bleached out abandoned is so photographable. The photo leaves one wanting more.

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