A tale of Two Cities


As a reporter of one kind or another for longer than I care to remember I’ve interviewed a lot of interesting folks.

And I have had my share of what I might describe weird or bizarre situations.

After going into the archives to find my story about Hoyt Axton at the Great Northwest Log Haul in 1988, it got me thinking about sharing some of those scenarios.

As I previously described that ribbon of full loaded logging truck stretching the approximate 250 mile stretch, drivable in a vehicle in just less than five hours but not in a log rig, was a sight to behold.

Possessing an unlimited budget since this was radio lol, we flew part of the route as the convoy wound its way south to Darby to what then was Stoltz Lumber.

Then it was quite a chore to join the flow of things and head south ourselves but via the ground route.

As the 300 trucks hauling a million board feet of lumber arrived word circulated that Axton was scheduled to perform in support of the loggers who were protesting the increase of wilderness areas which was limiting timber sales.

As well as the obvious visual, the haul was meant to provide logs to keep the mill open.

My friend Victor Bjornburg, who had interned at KGVO but now was working for KUFM), decided we’d hang on until the concert was finished since we were looking for a story that other reporters, including national media, weren’t going to do.

Darkness settled on the log yard at the north end of Darby as Axton to the cheers of celebrative loggers began to wind down his short set.

Victor, who previously worked at KOJM in Havre when it was owned by Governor to be Stan Stephens, retired recently after working at the state Department of Tourism.

We were good friends so didn’t mind the wait that is until it stretched into a few hours as we stood outside Hoyt’s old short bus.

Finally here comes Axton, muttering he guessed we weren’t going away which we assured him we weren’t.

Into the bus and a swath of pungent yet pleasurable smoke greeted our presence and Hoyt was quite cordial – Ya think, reminiscing about a low budget film – Disorganized Crime filmed in the Bitterroot with Treat Williams.

As radio reporting goes, it was an arduous experience yet certainly worth the wait.


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