A couple days ago I was flipping through some magazines at the gym, waiting for my wife to get out of the locker room. One of the magazines was Distinctly Montana. This magazine comes out seasonally, with 4 issues a year. I don't know exactly how I feel about it. It's definitely a publication of high quality as far as pictures and articles go, though it often seems directed at those who can afford 5,000 sq ft log homes and people interested in purchasing 6,000,000 dollar ranches- two subsets of the population I will never belong to. But its got some good stuff, and an online subscription is free if you're interested.One of the articles was an interview with journalist Tom Brokaw, who owns a ranch in the foothills of the Absaroka Range. Mr. Brokaw talks about his ranch, what he likes to do in Montana, and some western issues. One of the things Brokaw mentions is starting his days with a dip in the West Boulder River. The thing is, Distinctly Montana seems unaware of where the hell that is.
I've written before about the existence of two Boulder Rivers in Montana, and the confusion that follows from duplicate toponyms. I've also written before about always cross-checking published maps with the map in your head. So as I sat there waiting for my wife, I looked through the map of Montana at the end of the magazine. Next to the map was the caption: "We thought it would be interesting to show you where some of the stories in this issue took place in our great state." Being the maphead that I am, I took a good long gander.
There it was. They put all this effort into creating a smooth and highly polished publication, and then completely misplace the location of Tom Brokaw and his Boulder River. Brokaw lives in the foothills of the Absaroka-Beartooth, by the Boulder River that flows north, out of the high peaks and into the Yellowstone River near Big Timber. Their map though, has him swimming 150 miles to the northwest, in the Boulder River that flows southeast out of the great Boulder Batholith and into the Jefferson River near Cardwell.
And there you have it. Which Boulder River?
The wrong one.