Tuesday, April 19, 2011

L is for Lewistown, Montana

Lewistown is a historic community that sits in the center of Montana, almost dead-center.  It is surrounded by several small mountain ranges: the Judith Mountains north and east of town; the Big Snowy Mountains 20 miles south of town; and 40 miles southwest of town are the Little Belt Mountains.

According to Wikipedia - Company “F” of the 7th US Infantry established “Fort Lewis” there in 1874.  The Fort was on land belonging to the Blackfoot Nation.   Lewistown is supposedly named after that earlier fort.  The article goes on to say that the Metis were the first permanent settlers of Lewistown. 

Lewistown is still the location of the Metis Fiddle Celebration.  It also holds an annual Chokecherry Festival.  However one of its claims to fame is the Yogo Sapphires, (one of two types of sapphires found in Montana), that are mined nearby.

The Yogo Sapphires are a cornflower blue color.  In 1895 a prospector, James Hoover began collecting these little blue pebbles from where he and his partners had their gold mine operation.  During that year they made $700 dollars from the gold mine.  He collected the blue pebbles in a cigar box and sent them to Tiffany & Co in New York to be identified and see if they had any value.  Tiffany & Co sent him a check for $3,750 for the box of blue pebbles. 

The story of the sapphire mine is full of twists and turns.  Hoover and his partners eventually sold their shares to a British Company.  This probably explains the link to why there are Yogos in the British Crown Jewels.

My mother had started teaching in Montana the year I graduated from high school in Idaho.  She asked me what kind of ring I would like for my graduation present.  My choices were a diamond or a Yogo Sapphire.  I chose the Yogo Sapphire and have loved the stone ever since.


  1. Great to hear about the 'stones'. He must have been shocked to see that check from Tiffany's! And again nice to see your connection to Yogo sapphires.

  2. I have always had a love of history and have always thought the most important part of history was the STORY. I guess that has influenced my writing.

    Your observations have made me think about many things. Thank you.


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