10 Western Books for a Rainy Day
Written by Montana Authors
There's nothing like an engrossing book for a chilly mountain day. Here's some of our favorite picks! From Montana histories to works of classic western fiction to stories to share with a little one, these books are sure to delight! All written and published by local folks, these books are an authentic way to get a touch of the Montana experience from the comfort of your couch.
Perfect for those interested in the history of the exploration and exploitation of the west, this book features recovered stories of Teddy Roosevelt, Daniel Boone, John Muir, and many, many others.
Spanning several centuries and states, these stories - originally published in a variety of ways both big and small - are now available in one volume thanks to the work of outdoor writer J. I. Merritt.
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“This kind of open country seems to attract two very different types of people and create two kinds of towns. First there's a town like Fort Benton, where every place you go, people greet you like a long-lost relative … in most of the smaller towns in Eastern Montana, what you're going to encounter when you first walk into the local cafe is "the stare."
* From Chapter Seven: Plants
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Everything about Montana is big – its skies, its mountains, even its plains. Yet despite this scope and scale, Russell Rowell has managed to capture the landscapes, the people, the towns, and the culture of this vast state in his newest book.
This book is a big-picture version of Montana without sacrificing the details that make this state human and interesting.
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“Kate seated her guest with his back to the curtain and fed the hungry man … At some point after the dinner, York leaned his head back against the canvas divider. Waiting behind the screen, Pa and Junior sprang into action, bashing the doctor's skull with a pair of heavy mallets. If the blows weren't enough to kill the doctor, Kate took care of that.”
* From the first chapter, "Serial Killers: Harpies Most Horrible"
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Featuring the biographies of ‘bad girls’ from Calamity Jane to Belle Star and many other ladies who’d as soon shot and rob you as look at you, this book sheds light on these fascinating female characters and the larger truth of the American West.
Drawing on fact as well as folklore, historian Michael Rutter works to set the record straight on these figures and events which are so often shrouded in fabrication and fantasy. Get ready to meet the wild west outlaws who wear pistols as well as petticoats.
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“The next morning at an early hour the people gathered around the prison. The guards were gone and the door ajar. Unable to restrain their curiosity, and fearful that the robbers had been rescued, they pushed the door wide open. There, hanging by the neck, stark and cold, they beheld the bodies of the three desperadoes”
* From Chapter VII, First Vigilance Committee
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First published in 1890 by real-life vigilante Nathanial Langford, Vigilante Days and Ways breathes life into Montana’s earliest history. These true accounts of outlaws and lawmen date back to the infant days of the treasure state, and plunge the reader wholly into the danger and majesty of the pioneer and gold-rush era.
Keep your wits about you, though – sometimes the line between hero and villain is slimmer than you think!
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“My parents had drummed into my head never to run from a grizzly. So there I stood as my four companions ran for the trees.”
* From Chapter Thirteen: Lions and Wolves and Bears, Oh My
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From fearsome animals to sheer cliffs, suffocating avalanches, turbulent rivers and more, these gripping accounts of human wit and will are true page turners for those brave enough to read them! This book details the heroic actions of Montana’s search-and-rescue professionals who protect those who run into misfortune among Glacier National Park’s vast wilderness expanses.
Writers C.W. Guthrie, Dan Fagre, and Ann Fagre are all local Glacier experts who have been involved in a scrap or two themselves. This fascinating read includes several maps, charts, and graphs of the larger Glacier area, as well as the most complete and detailed chronological list of all 296 recorded deaths within the park’s limits ever compiled.
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“While ghost hunters try to physically explain the science behind haunted places, this book instead explains haunted places through the events of the past. Looking at the history behind the haunting, why the parson has not moved on, or what message an apparition might be trying to get across is another way to study ghosts.”
* From the Introduction, page 17
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This attention-grabbing book contains thirteen stories - all about real people, real places, and real events. A rainy day is the perfect time to shiver your way through some of Montana’s most chilling tales of ghostly happenings.
Perfect for the fan of both western history and thrilling tales, this little book packs a big punch!
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“ By the time she took her horse-top self portrait in 1912, Evelyn Cameron clearly didn’t care what her family in England thought. In the photograph, her face and hands are unfashionably tanned, her hair windblown. A vestigial bow is tied at her neck. She is a far cry from her sidesaddle days as she stands on an English saddle atop a working ranch horse.”
* From page 4
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Born in 1868 to a wealthy British family, Evelyn Cameron traded privilege for adventure, the lush English countryside for the eastern Montana badlands, and a lavish estate for a tiny homestead shack.
In 1894 at the age of 26, Evelyn turned to the burgeoning art of glass-plate photography as a way to support the Camerons' struggling horse ranch, producing some of the most remarkable images of pioneer life ever seen. This 120-page book features 117 of the finest and most fascinating images by this adventurer, homesteader, ranch-woman, and great American photographer.
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“The Bozeman Trail was for a kind of man … who came hopefully out from the States to better his condition. He was a farmer eking out a living somewhere in the Middle West or fleeing the catastrophes of the War of the Rebellion. Or he was a lawyer or a doctor or a shopkeeper, doing better than eking but wanting to do better still. He went west to find prosperity.”
* From Chapter 1: Before the Bozeman Trail, page 3
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The Bloody Bozeman is an exciting journey to the gold fields of Montana during the six years in the 1860's before the army was forced to abandon three forts due to Red Cloud and his warriors. This Western Book is hailed by A.B. Guthrie Jr. as among the very best among narratives of the American trail. The Bloody Bozeman is a must – have for all Western History buffs.
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“Yellowstone contains approximately half of the world’s geothermal features. There are over 10,000 geothermal features, including about 300 geysers, in the park.”
- From Ten Things You May Not Know About Yellowstone
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Make sure you get the best possible experience out of your trip to the world’s first National Park! This handy guide covers everything you’ll need to know ~ and some extra tidbits as well. From the most enjoyable hikes, the best places and times to find Yellowstone’s flora and fauna, to hidden waterfalls and more, this book has it all!
Author Alan Leftridge has worked as a seasonal naturalist and wildlife ranger in the park for years, and has become quite the expert on the regions secrets and sights. Share in that knowledge and foster your own Montana memories with The Best of Yellowstone!
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“Lewis and Clark thought they were well prepared to hold a council with the Yankton Sioux.In mid-June, they'd hired Pierre Dorion, a French trader married to a Yankton woman, to interpret. Dorion had been heading down the Missouri River with the other traders when they met the expedition heading upstream."
* From Plains Indian Nations: Yankton Sioux
The perfect book to introduce your child to the Lewis and Clark expedition as well as to a variety of native peoples and groups, and to the diversity amongst these tribes, this book from author Barbara Fifer is truly a gem.
Part of the purpose of the Lewis and Clark expedition was to learn about the native groups west of the Mississippi, and from the great plains, to the rocky mountains, to the Columbia River Basin, they did exactly that! Fifer is the author of several histories for both adults and children including five books on Lewis and Clark.
If these particular reads aren't to your liking, then check out some of our other Montana books.
- By Emma Katherine Roberts