In 2000, the Montana Department of Transportation’s new highway map sealed the fate of 18 towns: nine communities would remain, nine would disappear. Associate Professor Jeremy Lurgio has produced a multimedia project that features these towns and illustrates the issue of depopulation on the Great Plains.
His exhibition – “Lost & Found Montana” – documents the story of the 18 towns using words, photographs, video and audio. It opens Aug. 3 in downtown Missoula at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography Gallery and runs through Oct. 30.
Each of the 36 photographs in the exhibition has an audio component, so viewers can use smartphones or tablets to hear the stories. Lurgio, who teaches multimedia and photojournalism for the School of Journalism, also developed a website for the project.
Lurgio drove more than 7,000 miles to report and photograph these stories. He is as interested in the people who keep these remote places alive as he is in their history.
“I am excited to tell the stories of towns like Horton,” he said. “If the last man in Horton hadn’t been struck by a train in 1999, Horton may not have vanished from the Montana map. His name was Frank Hartman. He had a story and his son knows it.”