This year marks the 20th anniversary of the movie A River Run Through It. The novella was published fourteen years earlier, and the story had that long to resound in our minds before the images and words came alive on the screen. And come alive they do; even the hardest hearts can’t help but get weepy. But there was more good done besides the softening of hearts, besides making people see themselves and their families differently.
According to the Missoulian, the fly-fishing industry saw 60% increases in business in 1992 and 1993. This was good news for guides, realtors, and the entire community of Missoula, where the story was hatched. It was also good for the Blackfoot River without which this story would not have existed.
The film was shot on other rivers in Montana—the Yellowstone, Gallatin, and Boulder—because the historic Blackfoot River was not what it had been after decimating from logging, mining, and agriculture. Because of the movie, millions of dollars have going to restoring and protecting the Blackfoot.
“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.”
The Little Blackfoot drains into the Clark Fork near Deer Lodge, and five miles east of Missoula the same river receives the Blackfoot. There are lots of ways to help.
I’ve been enjoying this summer swimming, on average, five out of seven days. Sometimes it’s a quick dip and sometimes a longer soak. Sometimes I just sit alone or with a friend and listen to the water move rocks underwater. Wonderful swimming spots on the Blackfoot, Clark Fork, and Bitterroot Rivers (as well as the chilly but lovely Rattlesnake Creek) are all within minutes of downtown Missoula. We’re damn lucky.
On Sunday I chose Council Groves, a place I hadn’t been to in a few years. Council Groves has good swimming, and it also has good history. It is a sad story, really. It’s where the Flathead, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille Indians signed a treaty in 1855 to give up their ancestral hunting groups in exchange for a reservation in the Flathead Valley. The Clark Fork flows through the state park with such force that every year the topography is a little bit different. There are deep swimming holes, shallow pools to lounge in, channels to follow, and little waterfalls over what I consider to be the most beautiful river rock anywhere.
There’s no hunting there these days, but there’s fishing, tadpole catching, and rock collecting. There are cottonwoods and old ponderosas to sit under when the sun becomes too much, and wild mint to discover. Tell me, what more do we need?
Free Rock Massage.
Fishing/Rock Hunting Dog.
Evidence that big water runs through it.
Despite it all this big tree stands.
It’s a great luxury to live within swimmable rivers. I live on the edge of the Hudson (have yet to swim in it, although one now can) but when I lived in Lebanon, NH for a while would take my dog out to nearby rivers for the afternoon. Great memories.
It sure is! I hope to get a few more swims in before fall hits, and then….hot spring season!
They call it a novella, I believe. One of the finest pieces of writing I’ve ever had the pleasure to read, just long enough to tell the story. Keep up the good work, tell your story.