Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Outhouse in Montana’s Nevada City is Politician’s Dream

Politicians Dream

Janie departs "Politician’s Dream."

©Bert Gildart: “That double-decker outhouse was built for politicians,” chuckled Jack Frost. “Can’t you just see them scurrying all around, rushing to the top stall, leaving the one beneath for all the rest of us. Think about it; the message is there. It’s a politician’s dream.”


We heard the comment from the caretaker in Nevada City, Montana, as we were traveling with the Luhrs through settings looking far more like winter than like fall.

But for me, that just makes it one of the best of times in Montana. That’s when the summer tourist season is over and when the state returns to those who live here year around. Life is simple, and it reminded me of the way Montana was when I came here out of high school-back in the 1960s. People just seem more relaxed and willing to sit back and share their time and their jokes and, sometimes, their insights into some of the state’s most compelling history. One of those people was Jack, one of the few year round residents of this small settlement located near the crest of the Rocky Mountains.

Nevada City is located two miles along a lonely highway that links with Virginia City, Montana’s first state capitol (not territory capitol) and Jack was one of the first people we encountered. Jack said that he’s here now because he wanted something different from the roofing company he once owned in Dillon, Montana (about 100 miles away). With the help of the local employment service, he found his dream job in 1997. The service agency told him that the History Association needed to take care of all their of old trains and refurbish the historic buildings.

“For me,” said Jack, “it was the perfect job, and I’ve been here ever since.”


But that’s just a part of Jack Frost’s story. Over the years Nevada City has hosted the filming of dozens of famous movies to include Little Big Man and Missouri Breaks, staring Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson.

Jack Frost

Though Jack has never appeared in the big movies, a talent scout informed him that his beard would fit for small parts, and that’s how this long-beaded man often spends his off hours.

When we meet him, he was playing the part of a bartender in Boots and Bullets, a movie being created by the film department of Montana State University. But Jack was just one of the many interesting people we met.

Brenda Thyer Montanas Virginia City

Two miles away in Virginia City, we met Dan Thyer, who also has interests in Nevada City. Thyer directs the Living History Program in both Nevada City and Virginia City, and is a profession this former rodeo rider finds highly rewarding. With a degree in History Education, Thyer has a crew of about 70. All are volunteers, but all are devoted volunteers, and the list includes professional historians as well as those who have simply had a life-long passion in the history of this state.


Because Thyer still looks the part of an old range rider and bronc buster, I wanted to impart the rugged look his face projects, and tried to do so using two Nikon SB-800 strobes, backing off on my camera-mounted strobe by 2/3 of a stop, so creating slight shadows on one side of his face. I wanted to impart the same look to Jack Frost but used natural lighting conditions.

Historian Dan Thyer once a rodeo rider

Historian Dan Thyer once a rodeo rider

For Jack Frost, because of our location, I was able to use natural but very dim light-requiring wide-open f-stops and slow shutter speeds. To avoid a fuzzy image associated with the inherent camera movement and slow shutter speeds, I asked Jack to remain as motionless as possible and then stabilized my camera using a tripod.

We continued to visit the historic Virginia City-Nevada City complex over the course of several days. Snow had fallen over the settlement and the setting provided a better feeling of what life could be like in these often lawless communities.


In 1862 gold was discovered in Alder Gulch, Dakota Territory, and the discovery inaugurated the birth of a new state, a new overnight city, a high degree of lawlessness, and a legacy that endures to this day. Grave markers line a hill overlooking Virginia City, and the touch of winter set off George Lane’s grave marker. As well, it also set off the old shops and buildings once tended by blacksmiths, and the proprietors of boot shops and old dinning facilities.

George Lane

George Lane

If you’re like us and enjoy a bit of challenge in your travels and in your camping, never pass up late fall travel, for it provides an entirely different ambiance, one that can often bring history alive–and provide insights into the minds of at least some politicians. As Jack Frost concluded in our conversation, “That double tiered outhouse really must be a politician’s dream.”

One Response to “Outhouse in Montana’s Nevada City is Politician’s Dream”

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