with Hal Stearns
historian, storyteller, guide
In 1862, Congress passed and President Abraham Lincoln signed one of America’s most important pieces of legislation: The Homestead Act. This far-reaching law impacted Montana then, and does to this very day. Montana has always been a state marked by boom and bust—the fur trade, cattle on the open range, the gold and silver, coal and oil rushes. But no moment in our history has left a mark like that of the “honyocker” or homesteader. Stearns describes the American West’s last great agricultural land rush and the drought and depression that followed, illustrating his talk with a myriad of signs left on the landscape.