Prior to moving to Montana, I would search the internet for information about different locales, climate, and other demographics of the state. One thing that became evident, as I poked around to get a feel for things, was the longevity of many of its residents. Obituaries had a number of people who lived well into their 80’s and 90’s and had enjoyed long and useful lives.
Now I’ve read that Montana boast to having Walter Breuning of Great Falls who at 112 years old is the oldest man in the United States and one of the oldest people in the world. He remembers reading by kerosene lantern and hearing the first words that came over the radio. He knew the founder of the Great Northern Railroad and often saw Charlie Russell in the Mint Bar in Great Falls.
The mention of Charlie Russell struck a chord with me because we were lucky enough to visit the Charlie Russell Museum in April of 2007 where E was inspired by his work and I was impressed with his unique ability to capture the essence of light in his paintings.
In addition, Charlie Russell makes for a very interesting story. He left his home in St. Louis at the age of 16 to follow his dream of becoming a cowboy in Montana. As many have done, he fell in love with the west. He began to draw what he saw and later became famous for his rich and colorful artwork depicting sweeping landscapes, native peoples, and cowboys on the range. His paintings were done in vivid shades of purple, orange, and yellow, capturing the lively spirit of the west as seen through his eyes in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
Montana has its share of compelling history about people and pioneers who have forged their way in an unknown and beautiful land. And many have lived to a ripe old age. I like that. It gives comfort. It says a lot about the quality of life here.