Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dream Chasers of the West

My daughter gave this book to me for my birthday in February. I just finished reading Dream Chasers of the West today and absolutely loved it. It's a true story about a woman named Clara Augusta Miller who ventures out alone to homestead Montana in 1913. Eventually, she finds herself married and settles just south of Glacier National Park. I live an hour from the park, so this story really held my interest because I'm becoming more familiar with the area.

What Clara did is absolutely amazing to me. Not only did she leave her home in Minnesota to homestead the Montana plains, but she dealt with brutal winters, relentless summers, prairie fires, financial hardships, as well as working extremely hard. Our lives are easy compared to what she put up with. What I found really interesting was that Clara was also a writer and storyteller. All throughout her life, she wrote stories and submitted them to publishers. They were always rejected. It wasn't until she was 81 years old that one of her stories was finally published. She received $8 for her story about homesteading in Montana. Yes, at EIGHTY-ONE years old! When I read she was published at that age, it literally brought tears to my eyes.

Even though she didn't write this book, her story is out now. And what an honor it must be to have a life filled with such local history! Since I'm so close to the park, I'm planning on taking a trip over to the east side this summer. I know we've driven by the areas Clara lived and worked in. I'd like to check out the remaining bunkhouse near Lake Lubec as well as see the store and home she lived in at East Glacier. I believe she is buried nearby too, so I'd love to see her gravesite. She died in 1965 -- the same year I was born. Anyway, if you liked Little House on the Prairie as a kid, you will definitely enjoy this book.


  1. That sounds really good, Rena. I was thinking about Little House On The Prairie while I was reading this, then you mentioned it at the end. They sound similar. Might have to check this out at the library. Thanks.


  2. Now there's a lesson in perseverance!

  3. This sounds like something I'd really like to read. I've put it on my list.

  4. I also read this book this past winter. This past 4th of July weekend, we camped at Marias Pass, just 4 miles from Clara and Glen Smiley's homestead. We tried to hike into her old place and check out the old building (not the cabin as it was torn down and is now accross the street as a VERY nice log home) but it was too wet to get to it from along the train tracks and hiking around the NW side of the old place along the old abandon tracks, it was too wooded with thickets that we couldn't get through. We did goto East Glacier and saw her old store and talked to the owner who bought it from GC! He was a VERY interesting guy to talk to and when he loosened up, he told the "other" side of the story. Interesting!

    Lyndel, Kalispell, MT