Milltown, Montana Trailer (2010)

Trailer for the documentary Milltown, Montana.

Milltown, in German Mülheim, a place in Western Montana at the confluence of Blackfoot and Clark Fork River. A place, where timber was processed, initially with water power and then, after the Milltown Dam had been erected, with electric energy. The Clark Fork River comes from Butte, 120 miles south-east of Milltown, once the largest mining city in the US.

The dam and the hydropower plant have recently been pulled down, the timber millhas been shut down. In summer, the canoeists add some colour to the industrial wasteland, but anglers won’t show up here. Toxic substances and heavy metals, carried by the river from the mines at Butte and from the copper mill at Anaconda to the former water reservoir, have contaminated the ground. In a move to renaturalise the landscape, the contaminated sludge, an estimated 14 million truck loads, is now to be removed and shipped upstream to a place called Opportunity, which the mining corporation of Anaconda had had erected once as a model village in the green fields next to the copper mill. The Clark Fork River is the largest Superfund Site, the biggest renaturalisation project of the United States.

The area in Montana that is covered by the film has the shape of a lying cross (+-), with its longitudinal axis in west-easterly direction being formed by the Interstate 90 from Butte via Milltown to Missoula, a garden and University City. The south/northern axis is formed by Highway 93, running from Idaho through the Bitterroot Valley and the Flathead Indian Reservation to the Canadian border and the Glacier National Park. The tracks of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company that cross at the Missoula freight station run parallel to the trunk roads. While cattle are bred on the pastures in the Bitterroot Valley, they breed buffalos and horses in the Flathead Reservation. There is land speculation in both places. Life in Big Sky Montana is still comparatively tranquil and offers sufficient nature. This is why more and people from the big cities come here and settle near the Clark Fork River, the Bitterroot River or the Flathead Lake. Californian developers invest in villas, residential estates and golf courses. 85% of the land in the Flathead Reservation is now owned by whites. Although the tribes still owe the water rights in the hot springs of the same name, the bathing resort of the Red Indians, once a holy place to them, where the Montana jet set used to meet until the 1970s, has fallen in disrepair and is derelict. Montana’s social structure, shaped by miners, ranchers, small town citizens and marginalized Red Indians, is changing rapidly.

3 min 17 sec


Posted On
April 27, 2010
Rainer Komers

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Breathless Films

February 13, 2010
Unknown or Not Available
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