Friday, July 31, 2015

Resort near Red Lodge blends casual ambiance, fine food in gorgeous Beartooth setting

Rock Creek Resort has an Old World charm, enhanced by its owners' European roots and sensibilities. 


A columbine at the lobby entrance trumpets your arrival.

Bikes are a leisurely way to enjoy the scenery at Rock Creek Resort.

WHEN ROCK CREEK Resort began to create the legendary place it is today, owner Pepi Gramshammer drew from childhood memories of Alpine scenery and the food of his native Austria.
He was a young man with an ambitious idea.
Hailing from Innsbruck, Austria, he was a championship ski racer, internationally known.
While his athletic abilities were well established, he was also becoming a fine amateur cook, developing a taste for  gastronomic pleasures.
Enter, Piney Dell, which I first visited as a youngster with my parents and grandparents.
Gramshammer and his wife Sheika are proud owners of Rock Creek Resort, on which the charming restaurant -- now Old Piney Dell -- resides. The place's ties to Pepi go back to the 1960s when he purchased a small restaurant and bar already on the premises.
Today's Rock Creek Resort includes Old Piney Dell and offers outdoor activities one would expect in an alpine resort abroad or in any upscale mountain-surrounded locale.
In the European tradition, Gramshammer has integrated cultural experiences, shopping, scenic drives, and more into the appeal for his resort.
Old Piney Dell goes back decades, and was a favorite of this reporter's
family as she grew up in the 1960s.
Beartooth Lodge was added to the resort in the 1970s when the owner branched
out and determined there was a calling for cozy lodging as well as fine food.
NOW IN his 80s, he no longer gets to Red Lodge much.  But Sheika makes regular visits to inspect the property and insure high standards are enforced.  The couple also owns and operates Hotel Gasthof Gramshammer in Vail, Colorado, which they began developing around the same time Pepi scouted out Piney Dell.
When he first came to Red Lodge more than 50 years ago, he fell in love with the area and its signature mountains. He started a ski race camp up on top of the Beartooth Pass, and bought the restaurant as a way to feed his racers.  Its popularity grew and he returned each year to build up the restaurant's growing clientele.
WHEN PEPI purchased the property, the much loved restaurant and bar were already in place. The building -- now more than 90 years old --  evolved from a homesteader’s cabin built in the 1920s. The ambiance is rustic and friendly.  The menu features fresh fish, steaks and pastas, with a nod to the schnitzel and veal of Pepi's upbringing. Old-fashioned, cordial service is a point of pride.
Pepi Gramshammer built Rock Creek Resort
up from a small, rustic restaurant and bar
to a world class resort with fine dining.
GUESTS OF the restaurant were thrilled when the dining enterprise got the complement of lodging in the 1970s.  Responding to requests for overnight facilities, Pepi began development of the resort.  He first built he Grizzly Condos to house the ski racers. Over the decades he added Rock Creek Town Homes, Stoney Cabin, Beartooth Lodge and finally the log building Twin Elk.
TAKING A CUE from Europeans' pleasure in nature, Rock Creek is designed for lovers of the outdoors.  The creek from which the place takes its name is right out the window, and our favorite rooms have views of the rushing waters.
If staying put, watching birds, sipping a cuppa or glass of wine are your ideals, Rock Creek is your place. Soak in a hot tub, rejuvenate in the sauna, swim laps in the large heated pool or work off a Piney Dell dinner in the gym -- if you dare.
Rock Creek gives its name to a popular resort near Red Lodge.
THE WEEKEND we visited in mid-July, a family from Maryland was enjoying the catch and release fishing pond. An older couple celebrated an anniversary in the restaurant. A young couple planned a wedding -- the place offers spacious reception facilities. It also offers volleyball court, bikes, playground, a soccer field and hiking out the back door. Nearby Red Lodge offers shopping, art galleries, a historical museum, restaurants, and lively taverns. Plan a stay around popular events including the Christmas Stroll, Winter Carnival, Fourth of July Home of Champions Rodeo, the Beartooth Rally, the Festival of Nations, and Oktoberfest. For a calendar of local events, visit Call the resort at 406 446-1111. Reservations are recommended at Old Piney Dell by calling 406 446-1196.
A Barbara Adams landscape of Bridger Creek features sky blues and greens.
COMING UP:  Montana Meadowlark Photography offers fresh, poetic images of the landscape we all love, the scenes that attract us to Montana. Barbara Adams jumps in her car and takes off, guided by her love of Big Sky Country.  She spends the day looking for the perfect clouds or a pair of horses at play.  Remember to explore, learn and live and have a look at her imaginative work next up at 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Artful shop in small Montana town integrates talent, locally created art, pleasing displays

Juliana Stevens has an eye for color and an affection for Montana artists who make colorful, natural art and crafts.
Juliana's Jammin' Art and Rock Shop pays homage to the artist's love of stones.

SHE WAS a social worker in an earlier life, helping troubled souls find their way through hard times.
Now, she cheers people with art. And art is therapy for the artist.
The healing nature of art is another path up the mountain toward mental health for Juliana Stevens, of Columbus, Montana.
Her artful venture, Juliana's Jammin' Art and Rock Shop, is a bright spot in the small Stillwater County town -- bright, both literally and figuratively. ("When I'm not jammin', I'm rockin' " says Stevens, alluding to the shop's homemade jams and rock gems.)

Juliana Stevens makes beautiful jewelry from stones she carves and works. 
 ATTRACTIVE displays merge books and candles, gourmet coffee and note cards, belt buckles and jams, soaps, oils and scarves.
Stevens makes rosaries and necklaces from a table in the rear of the rock and art shop.
And she'll custom design or adapt anything you see in the store -- from belt buckles, to pendants, to specialty food items.
THE RECENT loss of a beloved younger sister has accentuated Stevens' spiritual side.
Belt buckles are beautifully mounted and show
 off the love of stone in "Juliana's Jammin'...''
 "I find art very healing," says Stevens. "It connects us in many ways." The store also supplies holy cards, medals, and other devotional items. "I think it is important for people to continue to connect with departed loved ones, people who influenced them.  My sister and I made jewelry together and shared a passion for bead work, so when I'm doing that art, I'm thinking of her.'
Married and devoted to her daughter, Stevens takes time off to be with her family, so check Facebook for shop hours and times.  Usually she's open four or five days a week.
 She is proud of the lively and regular open houses and artists' receptions the shop hosts.  Stevens welcomes strangers and locals, tourists and regulars, and her receptions feature wine and goodies, and sometimes ice cream -- Rocky Road is a favorite tie-in with the rock work.
WE WERE struck by the reasonable prices. Coffees, pottery, paintings, homemade goodies, soaps and more are all affordable.
A sampling of her artists includes Joanne May of Bunkhouse Pottery of Reed Point.  She specializes in handmade, custom pottery with richly hued earth-toned glazes.
Carol Hartman's cattle marker art reflects her .
love of the landscape of Eastern Montana
 One of Juliana's signature creations is a "blubarb jam" now packaged and stocked in her store by another of the locally connected artisans.
Stevens and her colleagues have a sense of humor, evidenced in the playful names and nature of the displays.
Soaps and candle scents by Shannon of Country Bumpkin Candles of Bridger have fun names -- Lime in Da' Coconut, Amazenly Grace, My Montana Cabin, Caprio Olivio and Biker Babe.
TERI UDEY'S AunTee's Herbal Touch potions are made in her Montana home based business, a family-operated affair, which Stevens favors. AunTee's products are natural and chemical-free.
Christine Bakke's eye-catching photography is inspired by the pristine beauty of the Rockies.
The silk scarves and wall hangings of Sandy Alley (Sandy's Silks) reflect her love of the flowing technique of hand painting -- done in her Absarokee studio.
The lobby of Rock Creek Resort welcomes guests from around the world.
The nearby Old Piney Dell Restaurant and the lodge are Austrian founded. 
The familiar "Made in Montana" stamp is on view throughout the colorful store. Each nook showcases the variety and creativity that make Stillwater Valley and Montana vital.

UP NEXT: Rock Creek Resort outside Red Lodge is a restful, rustic but upscale retreat if you're headed up the Beartooth Pass to Cooke City or into Yellowstone Park. Remember to explore, learn and live and check us out Wednesdays and weekends at:

Friday, July 24, 2015

Stately Pollard Hotel offers sophistication, relaxation, fine food, history and reputation


Snow can come to Red Lodge in summer -- but usually doesn't stay down long. But the Pollard
is a hotel for all seasons --  stately and beautiful rain or shine, summer, spring, winter or fall. 


IT'S HARD FOR ME to drive through Red Lodge without at least stopping by The Pollard for a glass of wine in the Pub or a stroll through the artfully appointed lobby to take a few moments of calm in the much loved History Room.
THE POLLARD is as much a part of the landscape of Red Lodge as is the main street, North Broadway,  itself.
The Red Lodge main street is always lovely in summer, with baskets
of hanging flowers, a clean street and lovely brick facades.
An institution since 1893, the meticulously restored hotel combines gracious lodging with fine dining and an atmosphere both elegant and reflective of its western setting.

A RECENT visit found us enjoying a blues guitarist in the Pollard's Pub. Besides a pleasant mix of music for many tastes, one may enjoy appetizers with a western flair.  The variety of music provided by the congenial Pub ranges from classic, old-time rock and roll to country western, ballads and folk music, and an original and appealing Belgian country- folk musician.
Illustrating the Pollard's broad range of offerings is Barnabe Deliens, Belgian country folk musician, on July 28, and the always popular Jeff Troxel and Trevor Krieger playing a folk and Americana mix, July 31.
Members of the Billings Symphony are performing Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 7 p.m.
Calming colors, highly polished wood and muted lighting welcome guests.
THE POLLARD'S colorful and rich hosting history includes entertaining guests such as Buffalo Bill Cody, and a century of dignitaries, authors, actors and other celebrities.  Calamity Jane is said to have made a lively entrance in the graciously appointed lobby then taken a meal in the restaurant.
The dining room is the place for an elegant meal, and the lamb chops with feta and oregano seasoning are first class.  Perfectly done pasta, succulent rib eye and tasty shrimp round out the menu, with a small but superb selection of appetizers -- the crispy and nicely spiced calamari remains my personal favorite.
The Pollard's rooms are both comfy
and attractive, with amenities
one expects in a fine hotel. 
Sunday brunch at the Pollard is a Red Lodge tradition. It's a great way to begin a day trip -- whether you're a local or visitor -- since Billings is only an hour away -- and the glories of Yellowstone Park are a pleasant few hours' drive through Cooke City and the Northeast entrance.

Juliana  Stevens has a "jammin' " rock and art shop in Columbus.
A former social worker with an eye for agates and other art, walked by a space for rent in Columbus, Montana, three years ago.  The result: Juliana's Jammin' Art & Rock Shop in Columbus, Montana. Find out how Julianna Stevens made the journey from counseling to jams, jewelry and art, in a shop with soul. Remember to explore, learn and live, and for a fresh spin on travel, the arts, road trips and the natural world, catch us Wednesdays and weekends at: 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Museum in Hardin combines enterprise, artifacts, architecture to merge history with progress

An array of vintage buildings present visitors with a feeling of nostalgia, in Hardin, a town proud of its history. 




History is lovingly preserved in immaculate eye-catching displays.
Donors came through with contributions from personal archives and businesses.

NO ONE would expect to find such a grand and ambitious museum in a small town off the beaten path.
The museum's director and biggest booster, Diana Scheidt,
talks with Cookie as she tours her through the museum.
But there it is:  the Bighorn County Historical Museum and Visitor's Center, a proud testimony to community spunk, generosity, determination and imagination.
The Hardin, Montana, complex is a treasure trove of eye-catching artifacts, old buildings and personal effects from a lively farming community's perspective.
Old  meets new in the Big Horn County Historical Museum,
where the "wheel" of life is represented in full detail. 
MOVERS AND shakers with an eye for preservation take visitors back in time to a day of horse-drawn carriages, farming and forging a century ago, train travel in 1890, homesteading in 1912 and all that keeps a community going: church, doctor's office, post office, barns, schools and bunkhouses. There's even a 1933 filling station, mortuary and a barbershop.
AS YOU WALK through 24 historic structures on the museum's 35 acres, you glimpse a bygone era.
Hardin's rich history is brought to life through donated photographs and artifacts true to each period depicted. Donors dug deep into their pockets to put the museum on the map when it was established in 1979.
Cleverly, the beautiful, modern main building has featured exhibits including native son Will James, a Plains Indians display and  historic pieces of well preserved furniture, including a pipe organ. CONTEMPORARY glass work, pottery, jewelry and an array of books by Montana authors are nicely displayed.  Bits of Hardin's history blend with new art to please the eye.
Cabinets from the clerk and recorder's office form the attractive u-shaped counter in the gift shop.
Antiques -- from cars to a beautifully preserved pipe organ -- are on display.
A venerable safe from Sawyer's Store -- which survived more than one burglary before closing in 1965 -- found a loving home at the museum.
A beautifully restored tin ceiling graces the Visitor's Center, drawing the eye upward and paying homage to Big Horn Implement and Schoen's Auto Supply businesses.
A vintage light from Custer Park enhances the museum's foyer.
CASH REGISTERS, western wear, doors, desks, mirrors, lights, banisters, clocks, storage cabinets from a hardware store, an antique phone booth long before cell phones.... all speak to a community whose citizens have preserved a slice of life more than a century later.
Antiques and vintage photos are beautifully integrated in the Big Horn County
Historical Museum complex in Hardin.  It's a true treasure. 
An antique sink from the city's first hospital -- long ago condemned -- found a health related space in the museum -- installed in the women's restroom.
A Brunswick Bar from the Bighorn Saloon is perhaps the best preserved relic of bygone days.
THE MUSEUM complex offers a wonderland of heritage, history and imagination.  It's one of the most artful museums in a medium sized town -- Montana or beyond.
The Pollard Hotel in Red Lodge: elegant, historic, restful,
with fabulous food and pet-friendly digs to boot!
Scheidt says the museum is "a work in progress, continuing to develop." Adults pay $6 and seniors $5. Besides special programs, educational and private tours, the museum park area is available for special events such as family reunions and weddings, memorial services or unique gatherings of any kind where a feeling of history is desired. For more, go to

UP NEXT: Wonderful  relaxation abounds at the Pollard Hotel in Red Lodge, where our wayfarers put down for  badly needed R&R.  What makes this unique Montana hotel such a sanctuary and treasure?  Find out at, where we promise lively looks at off-beat travel treats and treasures. Remember, carpe diem, so explore, learn and live and check us out each Wednesday and every weekend!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dedicated doctor, sax player merges music, medicine to help Hardin, Montana, enterprises




Dr. Robert Whiting tells of his journey from medical school to family doctoring in Montana, always with music.
Robert Whiting, MD, above in vintage
doctor garb at the  Big Horn County
museum, and right, with a newborn
he delivered earlier in his long career..  
and courtesy Bob Whiting

FOR A HALF-CENTURY plus, Dr. Robert Whiting Jr. has served the community of Hardin, Montana, as a small-town doctor with a big reach.
Although his e-mail handle is "retdoc" -- for retired doctor -- he's hardly retired from an active life and keeps his medical certifications up to date.
Everyone in a 100-mile radius knows Whiting, and many of those have also been tended by him -- operated on, counseled, diagnosed, helped -- in a career that began in 1953 when he enrolled in medical school. (He graduated from the well known Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.)

Bob Whiting in obstetrical service at Jefferson
Davis Hospital, establishing an early interest
in childcare and babies. 

Bob Whiting plays tenor sax
at a recent fundraiser.
RECENTLY, the energetic Texas born community booster helped organize a group of area regional music teachers and members of the Billings Community Band to perform an homage to band man Glenn Miller, who became famous in the swing era before and during World War II.
"It's all about giving back," said Whiting, chatting at their home after the concert with fellow musicians and community boosters.
The Robert and Marlene Whiting family at a recent celebration.
Downstairs, while this reporter played the family piano, Whiting did a doctorly "post-mortem" on the concert, a Chamber of Commerce fundraiser at Hardin Middle School.  It featured Glenn Miller's signature "Moonlight Serenade” and “Little Brown Jug”, “In the Mood,” “That Old Black Magic” and other hits from a bygone era. "I think we finally got a swinging sound," he said, as heads nodded/ (An afternoon rehearsal helped immensely.)
I played piano on stage with the band, tying in a reading from my novel, "Lilian's Last Dance" at the lovely Big Horn County Historical Museum, to be featured next blog. blog.
WHITING and his wife, Marlene, are going strong in their 80s and married since 1957. They came to Hardin, though, by chance on an airplane ride after a summer's work at Yellowstone Park.
Doctor by day for many years, Bob Whiting has played guitar, clarinet
and saxophones for decades, from high school to medical school and beyond.
The private craft, piloted by a friend, was touring Montana, looking for a place that might be a good match for Whiting, recently out of medical school and in love with Montana from a 1949 visit.
Low on gas, the plane touched down and the passengers went for coffee and told the waitress they were looking for a home and place to practice medicine.
"Turns out, the community was losing its doctor and badly needed someone," Whiting recalls. "Before we had our second cup, the community leaders and shakers descended upon the restaurant to plead their case for me to stay."
Bob Whiting takes a bow
after the recent concert. 
THE REST, as the cliche goes, is history.
Whiting's book, "From the Bedside to the HMO: A Doctor's Journey," details the demands of doctoring -- from birthing babies to checking ladies of the evening for disease, to polio ward sorrows and everything in between. Whiting worked with cardiovascular surgeon superstar Dr. Michael DeBakey, tended emergency room traumas and comforted survivors of illness and accidents.  He removed various bizarre objects from bodily orifices and rescued more than one drowning swimmer.
"I believe in the importance of balance," says Whiting. "Hardin has provided us with a rich, interesting life." He talks about the need for "a fix" in his book.  Apparently, both music and medicine provide him with that feeling of satisfied accomplishment.
IN OR OUT of the operating room, Whiting enjoys being "center stage" -- and his music is keeping him going.
Marlene jokes that they planned to stay in Hardin "a couple years" and the couple has logged decades now, all time spent making beautiful music together.

Vintage furniture and transportation are part of the fun at the beautifully
designed Bighorn County Historical Museum, our next blog feature.

COMING UP: Hardin, Montana's museum is an eyeful -- more than two dozen buildings and a gorgeous visitor's center lovingly built by the community, with  plenty of donated funds and imagination. Ambitious museum director Diana Scheidt credits generous donors who gave a vintage pipe organ, century-old automobile and much more. Remember to explore, learn and live, and catch us Wednesdays and weekends at:
where we promise a lively look at travel and the arts, the natural world and road tripping.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fundraiser showcases 'Fishtail' filmmaker, raises money for a good cause


The Stillwater Protective Association preserves life in the beautiful Stillwater Valley, here, near Nye. The frundraiser 
July 26 will feature film clips from "Fishtail," shot on the Fishtail Basin Ranch owned by the Abbott family. 

"Fishtail" offers familiar
scenes of the valley in calving season.

and courtesy "Fishtail" documentary archives

ONCE A YEAR, lovers of our quality life in Stillwater County gather to support the continued good works of the Stillwater Protective Association and boost the organization's coffers.
The grassroots group is proud of its "watchdog" efforts to insure that nearby Stillwater Mine keeps its operation clean and maintains good faith with the community.
SPA's 2015 fundraiser features a visit from filmmaker Andrew Renzi, whose friendship with the Franny Abbott family inspired his 2014 documentary, "Fishtail."
CLIPS FROM the acclaimed film will be shown at the annual SPA summer event, Sunday, July 26, at the Anipro Event Center south of  Absarokee.  Doors open at 4 p.m. with the program at 4:30 p.m.  Filmmaker and award winning director Renzi will show film clips and share his experience in making the ranch life documentary set in Fishtail.
AS ALWAYS, hors d'oeuvres are on tap, prepared this year by Montana Wild Flower Kitchen. Live and silent auction items -- from art to books and rafting and fishing trips -- will be offered.
The history of SPA dates back to 1975, when residents gathered to commit to preserving Stillwater County’s rural and agricultural quality of life while encouraging responsible growth.
Its pursuits include limiting the footprint of Beartooth Mine on the Beartooth Plateau and providing for the clean-up of mine waste and other industrial hazards.
Fishtail Basin Ranch1
Fishtail Basin Ranch's entrance.
Raffle tickets will be sold and the winner takes home a selection of wines. 

Franny Abbott, who with his wife, also named Franny, owns the Fishtail Basin
Ranch, at last year's event. A visit by filmmaker Andrew Renzi, a classmate
of one of the Abbott sons, inspired the making of the film, "Fishtail."
THE FILM, "Fishtail," features narration by renowned character actor Harry Dean Stanton, known for his quirky roles in a distinguished 45-year career. The film, set on the Fishtail Basin Ranch on Fiddler Creek, details ranch life's joys and 
hardships, including an unusual calf birthing sequence. Director Renzi's visits and longtime friendship with Tylee Abbott inspired the film.
Andrew as director followed Tylee and ranch manager Brian Young for four days during calving season, using a 50-pound, 16mm camera.
Actor Harry Dean Stanton, known for
his craggy looks and unusual "lived in"
voice, does the narration for "Fishtail."
 One reviewer called the narration "beautiful, a rough recording of Harry Dean Stanton reading poetry….I was mesmerized..." The film's faded colors and grainy texture combine with natural wonders to create a vintage look, an old-fashioned ode to a bygone time.
SPA EVENT goers will endorse by their presence a unique "Good Neighbor Agreement," signed by SPA, Northern Plains Resource
Director Andrew Renzi will be on hand at the SPA
fundraiser, to introduce clips from the film.
Council, Cottonwood Resource Council, and Stillwater Mining Company. It is the world's only legally binding document between citizen groups and a hard-rock mining company. SPA is an affiliate of the Billings-based Northern Plains Resource Council which encompasses 13 communities across Montana, from Helena to Glendive and Gardiner to Circle.
A "Cork-a-Doodle" wine auction features raffle tickets for $5 (5 for $20) for a chance to win a dozen bottles of fine wines.
Tickets are $30 if reserved by July 19; $35 at the door; children under 12 are free.  RSVP to or 406 248-1154. Contact Barb Lischer for the wine raffle 406 328-7139.

 Bob Whiting, MD, with his
saxophone and clarinet.

UP NEXT: On the trail of history and summer fun, we visit  an unusual retired Hardin doctor with a yen for music.  Then we take a look at the amazing museum: Big Horn County Historical Museum in Hardin.  This unusual 35-acre complex houses 24 historic structures.  But the main museum building is a masterpiece of preservation and integration of the old with the new. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Wednesdays and weekends at

Friday, July 10, 2015

Steamboat saved Custer's wounded soldiers, navigating shallow Montana waters

Here at the mouth of the Rosebud Creek, 12 miles from Forsyth, Custer left the Far West to meet his fate on the Bighorn.


Steam boats like Far West could navigate the difficult
and often shallow waters of the Upper Missouri river system.
and archives

THREE DAYS after Custer fell on a hot June day in 1876, a distressed Indian approached Captain Grant Marsh and his Far West steamboat, near Forsyth.  It was June 28 and using sign language, he explained there had been a terrible battle. The Indian was Curley, a Custer Crow scout who on June 25, had been the last known man to see Custer and his Seventh Cavalry alive. Days before, Custer had received his final orders aboard the Far West.
Captain Grant Marsh was
a skilled civilian who
saved the lives of many.
TWO MORE days later, on June 30, Captain Marsh received the 54 wounded soldiers and sped downstream as quickly as he could. With the Far West draped in black and flying her flag at half-mast, Marsh delivered the wounded to Fort Abraham Lincoln near Bismarck, North Dakota, at 11 p.m. on July 5, an amazing five days later.
The Far West was a stern wheel steamboat -- a steam powered boat driven by a single paddle wheel at the rear end of the boat. It was built in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania in 1870 and sank October 30, 1883 after it struck a snag at Mulhanthy Island, near St. Charles, Missouri.
The Far West could navigate the shallow waters of the Upper Missouri
River system, and helped save the lives of battle survivors.
THE FAR WEST was remarkable, with a length of 190 feet and a 33 foot beam. It could carry 398 tons when loaded to maximun draft of 4 feet 6 inches, 187 tons on only 3 feet of water, and 60 tons on 2 feet of water. Mountain boats were minimal to sleek and light, to cut wind resistance and save weight.
The Visitor Center and Little Bighorn Battlefield memorial pay tribute
to the fallen on both sides, soldiers and native American warriors.
Under the command of the skilled civilian Captain Marsh, the Far West, took the wounded to care in North Dakota.   The boat drew only 20 inches of water when fully laden. Lucky for the wounded that Marsh had managed to steam up the shallow Bighorn River in southern Montana just days before the June 25 battle.  He was only about 12 miles from the huge Indian encampment along the "Greasy Grass." 
EARLIER CUSTER had conferred with the Far West.
After crossing the divide between the Rosebud and Little Bighorn June 25, he divided his command, assigning three companies, including Windolph’s Company H, to Benteen, and three to Major Reno. Custer took Companies I, F, C, E and L, all of which perished.
Edgar Paxson's famous painting of the Battle of the Little Bighorn may
 be viewed in the Whitney Gallery at the Buffalo Bill Center in Cody, Wyo..
"NEVER IN ALL Indian history had there been such a fight on that river,” Windolph said. “Custer may have made a mistake to divide his command that Sunday afternoon of June 25, but the gods themselves were against him.”
Late that afternoon Benteen’s troops returned from a scouting mission to the south to find Reno’s command “being whipped and driven up the hill by the Indians.” 

long and lonely night for the cavalrymen dug in on that dangerous hilltop. Fire from Indian sharpshooters pinned them down behind makeshift barricades. A dozen troopers were dead. The wounded pleaded for water, Windolph recalled.

In the Indian encampment beside the river, the black night was pierced by blazing camp fires, cries and beating drums of victory dances. Fearful questions ran through the heads of troopers on Reno’s Hill. Where was Custer? Why wasn’t he coming to their support?
Marcus Reno, one of the survivors of the Little Bighorn Battle, was not
with Custer when Custer was wiped out. He is buried at the battlefield.
Just as dawn broke, Windolph, six months from his 25th birthday, sustained a slight flesh wound from a bullet that ricocheted from the ground into his chest. A direct hit from another bullet split his rifle butt.  Soon, though, he would help bury his fallen comrades.
THE BODIES were discovered the next day, and within a few more days, all dead were buried and the wounded on their way to be tended.
The Far West provided those injured fast, comfortable transport and saved many lives, including Windolph's.
Far West was also the bearer of the bad news. From Fort Abraham Lincoln, reports of the disaster were telegraphed around the world. Soon, everyone learned that General Custer and 265 men had been killed along the Little Bighorn River.

Andrew Renzi's love of film and Montana came
together in his movie, "Fishtail." Clips will
be shown at a fundraiser July 26.
UP NEXT:   A gifted young filmmaker with an affection for Stillwater County and a cattle operation is attracting attention with his film, "Fishtail." Andrew Renzi will be at the July 26 event near Absarokee. It's a chance to have fun, see clips from the film, meet Renzi and chat with friends in the valley we all love. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Wednesdays and weekends at