In Response to: Lost in the Democracy

I have been a “road warrior” most of my life since Princeton, both work and travel. I live about 6 hours west of Livingston and have been through there a number of times over the years — first drove through there when Montana had no daytime speed limits. 

It has a population of about 8,000 now, and for many years it was where many rich tourists got off the train at the historic train station (designed by the same architects as NYC Grand Central Station) to take a tour down through the Theodore Roosevelt Arch into Yellowstone Park. The station no longer handles passengers and houses a local museum. Because the town is on the north side of I90, most of the Yellowstone traffic (and business) does not go through there.

Livingston lies on the banks of the Yellowstone River and was a major service yard for the Northern Pacific Railroad, located midway between Minneapolis and Seattle. The railroad left behind a 2-mile-long plume of diesel fuel, lead, asbestos, and chlorinated solvents in the local ground water, impacting the town and the river. I suspect Mr. Kirn was drinking bottled water during his interview. FYI, the Northern Pacific was bought by the Burlington Northern which is now owned by Warren Buffet.

Ever since Robert Redford filmed A River Runs Through It in the area a number of years back, it has experienced a real estate boom. Some of the more famous buyers are noted in the article. The movie also brought in a slew of fly fishermen tourists. I would be interested if they eat what they catch.

Like many parts of America, Livingston looks great on the surface, but it needs a lot of work to clean it up.

Ron Hall ’76
Cheney, Wash.