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Intriguing Sad Poignant Reading

It’s Ellen Baumler’s beautiful presentation about one of Montana’s most hideous secrets. Some walked out, & some died within the brick & stone walls; “Dark Spaces: Montana’s Historic Penitentiary at Deer Lodge” from the University of New Mexico Press tells the story of the prisoners who did time at the foreboding Deer Lodge prison. We’re about half way through Ellen’s book at Montana History up at the Marias Heritage Center here in Shelby. I’ll be there at 6 o’clock SHARP tonight (Tuesday) to carry on with Ellen’s page turner. In 1870, Deer Lodge was founded to deal with the violent crimes plaguing the booming Montana Territory & to establish a federal presence in a land where justice was often executed by vigilantes. The lurid past of Deer Lodge during more than 100 years of its existence is preserved in the black & white photography of J.M. Cooper & the rich tales told by Ellen Baumler in “Dark Spaces.” One of the things that surprised me (& I”m the Puffman(!) & not much surprises me) is the fact that some of the old “Lady prisoners” were every bit as bad, if not worse, than the fellows who were in the slammer. The old west wasn’t pretty! See you tonight at the Heritage for more “Montana History.”

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