Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Old Postcard Wednesday-- Rocky Mountain Goat, Bozeman, Montana

This old postcard is in poor condition, having obviously spent some time in someone's scrapbook before being peeled off a black page and put up for sale. Information abounds online about the Rocky Mountain Goat, the Yellowstone River area, and Bozeman Montana so filling in the gaps of text on the back of the card is easy, but I included that back image because of the intriguing information about the reproduction of the photograph.

Here is some of that old-west Bozeman history to get us started:
John Bozeman 

Born in Pickens County, Georgia, in 1835, John Bozeman left his wife and three children in 1858 to seek gold in the West.  Unable to make a go of it in Colorado, Bozeman left Colorado in 1862 and came to Montana.  Realizing that he could do better by mining the miners, Bozeman and John Jacobs in 1863 blazed the Bozeman Trail, a cutoff route from the popular Oregon Trail, and went into business guiding miners to Virginia City through the Gallatin Valley.

Bozeman decided to settle in the fertile Gallatin Valley, and in 1864, Bozeman, along with partners Daniel Rouse and William Beall, platted the town which would bear his name. Passing directly through the Gallatin Valley, the Bozeman Trail was used by travelers until 1868, at which point it was closed because of the Indian Wars. But the Trail had served its purpose as it attracted emigrants to the Gallatin Valley.

John Bozeman's story did not end well, however.  In April 1867, he was murdered under mysterious circumstances east of present-day Livingston, along the Yellowstone River. His partner at the time, Tom Cover, reported they had been attacked by a band of Blackfeet Indians. However, discrepancies in Cover's story led later historians to suspect Bozeman was murdered, either by Cover, or possibly by a jealous husband.

The report of Bozeman's death at the hands of Blackfeet, so close to town, led to hysteria among area residents, and in response to the perceived Indian threat Fort Ellis was established three miles east of Bozeman. [Source:]

I was curious about E. C. Clapper, the person who took the original Kodachrome photograph of the young Rocky Mountain Goat pictured on this old postcard, and found it to be an enigmatic search. Could he have been the Orchard, Iowa banker who retired in the 1930s?

Or likely the industrious apple grower from Cut Bank, Montana, who wrote a letter of inquiry in the Feb. 1961 edition of Popular Science below?

 ...or possibly the E. C. Clapper of Glacier, Montana, noted among other Montana Clappers in the
 1920 U.S. Census?  Or maybe they were one and the same, as I found that Cut Bank, Montana, and Glacier, Montana, are a mere 33 miles apart.

He might likely be the E. C. Clapper of Lakeside, Montana, who took this photo shown at the Mehmke Museum in Montana.

Oh well, you get the picture: I am stuck, and if I have any intelligence at all I will just leave it at that. But......speaking of intelligence. I wonder if James R. Clapper, our Director of National Intelligence, is related to old E. C. 

Finally, something deep........ about Rocky Mountain Goats:

Where Names Vanish
          --by Patrick Loafman

Above the line of trees,
flowers bloom from a jumble of gravel,
lichen paints the stones vivid colors,
I watch a patch of snow become furry,
grow legs and walk.

For a moment I can't comprehend,
then a name comes:
mountain goat.
It bounds away
as quickly as I mouth
the word.

I scramble along the rocky slope
in pursuit. I bend to the earth
where its hooves dug into mud,
inhale the odor of animal.

At the edge of a cliff I sit a moment,
tossing rocks off into the fog,
snow paints my flannel shirt white,
my breath blows in puffs, thins,

Soon, I'm hiking the trail
down into the forest, then
I'm in a car speeding along a narrow road,
the radio broadcasting news.

Weeks, months, years pass,
time falls, paints my hair white,
but that moment is still there,
I'm still there.

And when you pick up the map, point
to a line winding up a mountain, ask,
What's this trail like? I pause,
return to that place in the fog.

My mind scrambles for words -
those blunt instruments
that carve primitive statues
among the nameless stones
of thought.

But only one word comes,
Mountain goat, I say,
I saw a mountain goat.

The word rides my breath,
dissolves into air, vanishes
like a stone thrown into a cloud.

       [poem found at]



Don't Feed The Pixies said...

the photo looks like it has been artificially coloured in after it was taken, as was sometimes the case in the early days of photography - making it look more like a painting than a photo

1920s - is that the time in the US when there were a lot of migrant workers? if so then that would explain E C Clapper moving from one place to another.

I thought the story of Bozeman, killed by the locals, was very interesting. Hollywood has given us a very odd picture of the old west, but we should probably remember that it WAS a dangerous place to be

Kay McKenzie Cooke said...

Fascinating! I loved the poem - and your one in a previous post as well. It's been an enjoyable, interesting visit. Thank you.

Rob-bear said...

I'm trying to figure out that goat, Lydia.

Is he at the lead, and trying to figure which way to go?

Is he so far behind all the rest that he thinks he is in the lead?

Is he even a he?

Life's imponderables.

Loved the poem. But Mountain Goat is two words.

Does that really matter?

Lydia said...

Pixies~ I agree. In fact, when I purchased it online I thought it was a painting.
If E.C. traveled from Iowa to Montana (if that was one person in both places) it could have been to reestablish his farm/business elsewhere. If he were any of the people in those links I don't think he was a migrant worker. ?
I thought about your last sentence last evening when Michael turned on the channel that shows old Westerns!

Kay~ Thank you. You are so kind, and always welcome here....and I will "visit" you in NZ soon!

Rob-bear~ Yes, Bear, Mountain Goat is two words and who knows why the poet thought them as one. Perhaps it is because he saw only one goat! As for your concerns about the solitary young animal, I had not thought about that. Since he/she looks content, let's just hope that the mother instructed him/her to wait while she checked out what was on the other side of the river....What if it was orphaned and that is why old E.C. was able to photograph the "hard-to-photograph" animal in the first place?! I hope not.

mythopolis said...

Nice card! I passed through those parts once on a road trip and thought it a beautiful wild land!

Anonymous said...

I love Bozeman. It's only a few hours from my parent's house, and I used to go up there with friends for the weekend, now and again. It's a really cute little town.

Fireblossom said...

Or maybe he invented that light. You know the one...clap on, clap off...

I've got a million of 'em.

I love mountain goats. They're cool.

Stickup Artist said...

Well, of course, it's all great material you present here. And it makes me want to get up and go, like all your postcard wednesdays do. And it is always so thrilling to spot a large 4-legged creature out in its natural habitat. It must have been nice, once upon a time, to fill up the gas tank of the car without it being a major expense, take to the open roads and see America. Those days seem a distant dream now...

Lydia said...

mythopolis~ Nice to have memories like that. I have driven through but have not spent time in Montana, and have never seen Bozeman.

Amber Lee~ That is fun to know! I have cousins and their families who live in Bozeman. Their pictures and stories all are wonderful, and I hope to see them there one day.

Fireblossom~ Ha! Since I also thought about the light, I imagine we were jointly amused by some other jokes around the name!
I love Mountain Goats.

Stickup Artist~ It makes me want to get up and go, too. Your final comment is sad but pretty darn true. And I don't think that we are in the slightest romanticizing what that "once upon a time" was like.



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