"The spell of the Great Plains ... you are at once dwarfed to nearly nothing and made the dead center of everything that is." - Peter Schjeldahl.

A road trip through the Great Plains of eastern Montana from Helena to Miles City and back in late May 2014. The route mostly followed two-lane Hwy 12, which itself follows the Milwaukee Road rail line, built in the very early 20th Century and shut down decades ago. Most of the towns along the highway are remnants of themselves, populated now with small handfuls of people. The destination was Miles City, a modestly thriving town of about 9,000 and the commercial hub of the large cattle and grain ranches of southeastern Montana.

Eastern Montana is a stunning, beautiful place. The immensity of the sky and the nearly flat range land -- a few trees and buttes to break it up and few people outside of Miles City -- is somewhat unsettling. This place is so very different. The land is mostly mile after mile after mile of prairie become range land. Although there are fences and occasional ranch buildings, large swaths of it seem timeless, separate from our daily existence. There are similarities to desert land, but this is not desert. The highway at times follows the Musselshell or Yellowstone rivers, where large irrigated grain or hay fields fill the bottomlands.

  • I shot in either black/white or color, as presented here. These photos are mostly shown in the order in which they were taken.

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

East Helena

East Helena

Montana State Capitol, Helena. House of Representatives Chamber.

Montana State Capitol, Helena. House of Representatives Chamber.

Abandoned electrical generating plant for portion of Milwaukee Road rail line which was electrified. Outside Martinsdale, MT.

Abandoned electrical generating plant for portion of Milwaukee Road rail line which was electrified. Outside Martinsdale, MT.

Abandoned electrical generating plant for portion of Milwaukee Road rail line which was electrified. Outside Martinsdale, MT.

Abandoned electrical generating plant for portion of Milwaukee Road rail line which was electrified. Outside Martinsdale, MT.

Abandoned electrical generating plant for portion of Milwaukee Road rail line which was electrified. Outside Martinsdale, MT.

Abandoned electrical generating plant for portion of Milwaukee Road rail line which was electrified. Outside Martinsdale, MT.

Abandoned electrical generating plant for portion of Milwaukee Road rail line which was electrified. Outside Martinsdale, MT.

Abandoned electrical generating plant for portion of Milwaukee Road rail line which was electrified. Outside Martinsdale, MT.

Two Dot, MT

Two Dot, MT

Modern windmill farm, outside Harlowton, MT

Modern windmill farm, outside Harlowton, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT

Miles City, MT