August 2016

FLOW was a public art work that transformed the exterior of the historic Story Mill grain terminal in Bozeman, MT.  The Story Mill is a late nineteenth century industrial development that played a significant role in the region’s agricultural evolution. From deep geological time to the present moment, the Story Mill site presents a rich and complex location rife with historic narratives and environmental lessons.  FLOW’s narrative was a collective project of ranchers, irrigators, Native American Scholars, engineers, environmentalists, cultural geographers and archeologists from the Gallatin Watershed.  The project focused on one of the most critical issues facing the American West…..water conservation.  Video projections, live music by the Bear Canyon drummers and a sound score presented ways that water historically defined the culture, habitation, industry and labor of this location.  A principal aim of FLOW was to inspire people to think about their current relationship to water during this precarious era of drought.

Following the artwork, presenting organization Mountain Time Arts facilitated dialogue and shared information and data about water conservation practices.

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THE STORY MILL is an iconic structure located in northeast Bozeman.  The mill’s towering grain elevators act as a symbol for the complex history of this region.  Archeologists have found evidence that water and fertile soil attracted humans to this area we now call the Gallatin Valley for over 5,000 years. 


The valley’s combined resources of water and soil created a significant location for seasonal hunting and gathering grounds for thousands of years.  The indigenous tribal groups that frequented this region were forcibly removed in the 1800s, but survived and are still alive today in Montana.  Since the mid-19th century, these valuable resources of water and soil provided a site for agricultural production and industrial development for settler communities. 


Early irrigation systems were collectively dug by newly arrived farmers to the Gallatin Valley in the 1860s.  Successful wheat production in the region required large-scale storage and milling.  Construction of the massive Story Mill, named after it’s developer Nelson Story, began in the summer of 1882.  A two- mile canal system was excavated that delivered water to power Story’s immense grain milling complex. The Story Mill continued to be powered by water until 1956. 


In 1883 the Northern Pacific Railway constructed a 440’ long spur track, that connected the high-volume Story Mill to the NP’s transcontinental line.  The spur track that was officially named the Story Mill Spur now functions as a bike path.  The Story Mill ceased operation in the 1960’s.  



FLOW received generous support from the Daynard Travel Fellowship, the Kendeda Fund, Gallatin History Museum, Rachel Phillips Research Coordinator, Gallatin Valley Land Trust, Maddy Pope, Trust for Public Land, The Schlegel family, Bently Spang, Derek Strahn, Caroline Old Coyote, Shane Doyle, Ben Peas, Scott Carpenter, Michael Spears, Leo Davis, Craig Woolard, Al Lein, William Wycoff.