John Clayton:


On this site:


Montana's Enduring Frontier

Cowboy Girl






Red Lodge

Small Town Bound

Other Books

About John

John Clayton talks about Yellowstone, Montana, and the West at a variety of venues. Here is a list of coming and past appearances, topics, testimonials, and ways of getting John in front of your audiences.

Upcoming appearances

Sept. 22-24, 2016: Missoula, Montana: the Montana Book Festival.

On Thursday, October 27th, 2016, at 7 pm at the Carbon County Historical Society Museum in Red Lodge, "Understanding the 1988 Yellowstone Fires."

On Thursday, November 17th, 2016, at noon at the Western Heritage Center in Billings, "Understanding the 1988 Yellowstone Fires."

On Thursday, November 17th, 2016, at 4 pm at This House of Books in Billings, "Stories from Montana's Enduring Frontier: The Yellowstone County Edition."

Past appearances

May, 2016: Pollard Hotel in Red Lodge, Montana: emcee/introducer of author Shann Ray for the Friends of the Red Lodge Carnegie Library

April, 2016: Montana State University-Billings: a keynote address for the Research and Creativity Conference

April, 2016: Moss Mansion, Billings, Montana: "The Ghost Metropolis of Mossmain"

Sept., 2015: John spoke on Montana Nature Narratives and moderated a panel on Freelance Writing as part of the Montana Book Festival.

March 2015: Carbon County Historical Society, Red Lodge, MT: "Stories from Montana's Enduring Frontier: The Carbon County Edition"

March 2015: Northeast Montana Ag Expo, Plentywood, MT: "Happily Ever Aftering on a Montana Cattle Ranch"

November 2014: Unitarian Universalist Meeting, Billings, MT: "Authenticity, Government, and Classlessness in Montana History"

April 2014: Montana Historical Society, Helena, MT: "The Ghost Metropolis of Mossmain" Here's the video!

March 2014: Forum for Provocative Issues, Red Lodge, MT: "Authenticity, Government, and Classlessness in Montana History"

December 2013: Powell Valley Community Education, Powell, WY: "The Ghost Metropolis of Mossmain"

September 2013: Montana History Conference, Sidney, MT: "The Ghost Metropolis of Mossmain"

June 2013: Western Heritage Center, Billings, MT: "Stories from Montana's Enduring Frontier: The Yellowstone County Edition"

John's appearances in the more distant past include: the Western Literature Association, the Ennis (MT) Fourth of July, the Salmon Lake (MT) State Park lecture series, the KULR-8 evening news, the NBC "Today" show, the High Plains book festival, the Wyoming book festival, and numerous appearances at the Montana Festival of the Book.


When he was starting several years ago, John asked some event organizers for comments. Here's what they said:

"Caroline Lockhart is a well-known figure at the American Heritage Center (AHC), University of Wyoming.  Her papers, which are held at the AHC, are popular with students and the public alike.  But I had never known Lockhart to 'come alive' as she did during John Clayton's presentation about her passions and her foibles. I left Mr. Clayton's presentation feeling that I had met the person behind the papers in her collection."

Leslie Waggener, American Heritage Center

"Author John Clayton's lecture and slide show about his new book, Cowboy Girl, is a great history lesson, wonderful entertainment, and a fascinating biography of rancher, journalist, Western author, and 'cowboy girl,' Caroline Lockhart.  The Carbon County History Museum hosted one of John's first lectures about Lockhart to a standing-room-only, very enthusiastic audience of community members and history buffs.  Filled with humor, interesting stories, wonderful photographs, and fine scholarship, Clayton's lectures are a welcome addition to our knowledge of the history of Carbon County, of Montana, and of the West."

Penny Redli, Carbon County Historical Society


"Clayton is a mesmerizing speaker.  John and Cowboy Girl were a big hit.  He spoke in an outdoor park, preceded by a parade of cowgirls, and his tales of Caroline Lockhart wowed the crowd."

Lucy Ennis, Friends of the Madison Valley Public Library

"The Red Lodge Friends of the Library asked John Clayton to be our guest speaker at our annual dinner this year. We were not disappointed! John's speech was not only as interesting and engrossing as his book The Cowboy Girl: the Life of Caroline Lockhart, but he also tailored his speech just for us by describing the paths of his research for the book and the many libraries he visited."

Jean Owen, Red Lodge Friends of the Library


John's talks include:

  • Understanding the 1988 Yellowstone Fires. Ask anyone in greater Yellowstone where they were during the 1988 fires, and you won't get a blank look. You'll probably get a great story, because the summer was so memorable. It felt like a watershed. But what exactly did it mean? John spent a week in the archives of the Buffalo Bill Center for the West in Cody, Wyoming, and in this talk summarizes what he learned: What we talked about, how and why it differed from accepted science, what it meant about the changing cultural meaning of Yellowstone, and why what we didn't talk about was even more important. Beginning June 2016, offered through the Montana Conversations program of HumanitiesMontana.

  • The Ghost Metropolis of Mossmain. This presentation tells the story of Mossmain, a metropolis conceived by Billings (Mont.) financier Preston B. Moss (1863-1947) and designed by world-famous landscape planner Walter Burley Griffin. As "the first garden city in America," Mossmain would have integrated agriculture and urban life to create a Chicago-style metropolis east of Laurel. Mossmain busted before it could boom. But its story has interesting implications for how we view Montana's 1920s homesteading bust, as well as the changing relationships Montanans have had with the economy, nature, and community.

  • Happily Ever Aftering on a Montana Cattle Ranch. When Caroline Lockhart moved to her homestead in Dryhead, Montana, in 1926, she was trying to enact in real life the sort of "happily ever after" experience she had described in her Western fiction. Though little-known today, Lockhart (1871-1962) in the 1910s wrote six novels, three of which were made into movies, and all of which culminated in the hero retiring to a cattle ranch. Lockhart based her novels on her real-life experiences -- and vice-versa. So can a single, liberated woman with a tendency to romanticize succeed at running a 1920s ranch?

  • The Lady Writer and the Lady Doc. An examination of the feud between Caroline Lockhart and Dr. Frances Lane, immortalized in Lockhart's novel The Lady Doc. Their mutual hatred polarized the town of Cody, Wyoming, and for over 100 years people have been wondering what drove them apart. John draws out the feud's implications for today's most controversial political issues. Illustrated speech, 20-60 minutes, for diversity audiences.

  • John also gives overviews of his books, including "The Cowboy Girl" and "Stories from Montana's Enduring Frontier." If you're looking to have John appear at a bookstore, he'd almost prefer to do a talk rather than a signing, as he explained in this humorous essay.

To have John speak at your event, email info [at]


--- Revised: 4/2016

Copyright 2008-2016 John Clayton info [at]