From Goodkind Block to the Lower Madison


by cheri goodkind block

On my way out of Helena, I noticed this stout historical building that bore my maiden name Block. I wondered who Misters Goodkind and Block were. After consulting the Helena history of this building, I learned that Mr. Wise and Mr. Goodkind ran a wine, liquor, and cigar building in the late 1890’s on this block.

On to Bozeman, Montana, and a morning of fly fishing.

We left Helena for the short drive to Bozeman down Highway 12. I’ve visited Bozeman before but had entered from the North Yellowstone direction. Always on the photographic lookout for horses, I saw in the distance behind a large cattle truck, behind a large Swift 18-wheeler, behind a chubby silver Airstream pulled by a ginormous black Dodge duelie, I saw….a herd of black horses grazing on the hillside.

Oh Goody-Goodkind, I thought and rolled the window down so the bugs that had met their smattered death on my side window would not spoil my photograph. The driver, my husband, immediately rolled his side down to adjust the air pressure in his inner ear. As you can imagine, it was a noisy, smoky din in the car.

I snapped a burst of photos and Miss Block-Wisely said, ” Those horse aren’t moving.”

That’s because they are sculptures, Miss Block.


A rigid herd outside of Bozeman

We entered Bozangeles (unfortunately, the California zeitgeist has begun to permeate Montana) in time to find our lodging and prepare ourselves for some serious river fishing.


Amsterdam, Montana


Quiet anticipation on the Lower Madison at 8:00 am


Geologic angst on the river


The fire that came through here three years ago is still evident


A wild brown trout about 20 inches that Ron released after catching. No planted fish have been let go into the Madison since 1979 since “catch and release” is the way here.

I’d like to note here, for the record, that I caught a 7 inch baby rainbow. How I hooked it, I do not know.


Treeless mountains on the river, too. Rain is in the air. Snow too. 


Cat tails in green

When one travels to a place like Montana, where for the most part, people are in the minority of living things, one begins to wonder about so many different things.

What was this place like when Meriwether Lewis and William Clark came through the area in 1804 with the Corps of Discovery?

What would it be like to go to the store without battling traffic?

Will the massive immigration from within and without  that is clogging the West Coast from Vancouver, Canada, to San Diego, California, continue on like an invasive plant,  eating up open space?

Will there be trout in the Madison for my great grandchildren?

About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
This entry was posted in Life, Murder at the Monument ( a story of New Mexico), Politics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to From Goodkind Block to the Lower Madison

  1. Brig says:

    What a great post. Wonderful to find a store with the same name. Somehow fitting that it sold Wine, Scotch, & Good Cigars!
    Loved fishing on the Madison, but was dismayed to run into another fisherman that I find out lives in Cali, only 50 miles from RB….
    I’ve always longed to know what the country looked like to Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Their journals and descriptions are great, but not the same as actually seeing it.
    I believe there will be trout in the Madison for those that come after us.

    • Cheri says:

      Yes. Although if the Goodkind Block Building had sold feed and animal supplies, that would have been fitting too. Wherever we went in Montana, Californians abound. I know how you felt running into one on the river. Usually, they talk too loud and want to make sure you know what they do for a living. I am sure you read Undaunted Courage, right?

  2. Richard says:

    More wonderful scenery. The variety and drama just completely paralyse me with awe and admiration.

    Look at that trout. What a beauty! The Good Judge must have been overjoyed. You, too, with your 7-incher.

    I’m sorry you were disappointed over the name, but Goodkind and Wise are appropriate names to go with Block, whichever way you look at it.

    That rigid horse in front looks decidedly unhealthy.

    • Cheri says:

      The Good Judge was moderate in his outward reaction but I could tell he was over the top. It felt great to see those magnificent browns swim back into the river, too. One thing I have noticed in Montana. People love their horses. They all look fat and well fed out in those pastures.

  3. Sharon says:

    One of my favorite blog posts from you!
    Keep fishing!!! Perhaps there is an 8″ reference left in the waters:)

    • Cheri says:

      The next day we did not fish. Boy, was I glad. The weather changed to COLD. All of the fishermen and women staying in the fishing lodge where we were caught so many fish they had lots of big stories at dinner. Best to fish in the cloudy and cold. Miss you!

  4. shoreacres says:

    It’s hard not to be paralyzed with envy. Such beautiful country, and such easy occupations. I’ve never seen a trout like that: it’s a stunning fish. There is some fly fishing in certain areas of Texas. They release rainbow trout into the cold, clear rivers of the hill country. I found a fellow with his wicker creel and flies once, and thought I’d fallen into another state.

    The fishermen around here are mightily unhappy right now. That 40-50″ of rain has turned everything fresh, and the redfish and speckled trout have gone elsewhere. They were catching catfish at the Galveston jetties last weekend, and in some of the marshes they’ve found baby bluegill and cats. It’s going to take a while for things to sort themselves out.

    In far western Kansas, I was fooled by a herd of cattle at a watering trough. It took a while for it to sink in, why they weren’t moving.

    • Cheri says:

      Between the hurricanes in Texas and Florida and the fires in the West, we are cognizant of the great good fortune to be traveling in such magnificent and unpopulated territory. I have been sobered by the photography of suffering in the South.

      And yes, in Kansas, I too, was fooled by the metal work. You would think I wouldn’t fall for that again but over and over and over is my life story.

      • shoreacres says:

        I just had an idle thought, which artist-you may be able to answer. Is there something about our visual perception that tries to turn two-dimensions into three? I’ve been so convinced that metal sculptures were real, I once parked and walked all the way over to the things, just to be sure. Trompe!

        • Cheri says:

          I have no idea how to answer you other than to observe that our brains determine that a herd of “horses” is on the golden hillside. We register “horses.” At some point, our optic nerve recognizes that, in fact, they are NOT horses but two dimensional sculptures.

          I have not addressed your interesting question.

  5. Muni says:

    Love hearing about your travels Cheri and the pictures add a lot. Good eye!

    • Cheri says:

      Coming from a great photographer like you, Muni, I will take in that compliment. I still want a copy of the three birds in the Icelandic waters. That is a beauty.

  6. wkkortas says:

    Brown trout and Italianate architecture. My kind of post.

    • Cheri says:

      Why, thankee! We went to a restaurant in Bozeman. Ron wanted to order wild trout for dinner. Can you believe that all the trout they serve is farmed? And yes, in Helena, the architecture was just dandy for such a small town.

  7. Pam says:

    Thank you for sharing your lovely perspectives, Cheri! Interesting and amusing horse story!
    Looking forward to more of your adventures.

  8. iclaudius3 says:

    Hello dear friend and old mentor,

    I love the first picture of the herd of horses. Very surreal. We definitely need to catch up or time will but leave us both as but dust with forgotten memories. We just completed a day hike up in the PCT and had many of the same relevations you do with regards to the frantic and crazy world we all now live in. Ping me when you are back. You have my number. Till then safe travels and may the wind always be at your back.

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