Articles and Essays

John Clayton has published articles and essays in such magazines as Montana Quarterly, Big Sky Journal, Horizon Air, Montana Magazine, and High Country News. His occasional columns on the American West have appeared in dozens of Western newspapers through the High Country News "Writers on the Range" series.

Ansel Adams photo of Fountain Geyser

Ansel Adams in Yellowstone

Big Sky Journal

(Summer 2016))

Dog with funny name

"I’m thinking of naming my dog Obamacare"

A humorous essay from Writers on the Range

(June 2016)

Articles and Essays

John Clayton has published articles and essays in Montana Quarterly, Big Sky Journal, Newsweek, Salon, National Parks Traveler, Mountain Journal, Horizon Air, High Desert Journal, Montana Magazine, and High Country News, among others. His occasional columns on the American West appeared in dozens of Western newspapers through the High Country News "Writers on the Range" series.

The "Named Highway Trilogy" 

I wrote about the very first automobile roads, which had names instead of numbers. And I did it as a trilogy, because much great art, like "The Naked Gun," comes in trilogies.

  1. We meet the granddaddy of named roads, and investigate its curious recent Wyoming resurgence.

  2. Going very deep on named roads, this episode, like The Naked Gun 2½, is arguably the funniest of the three, and the most relevant to today’s politics.

  3. A Grand Unifying Theory of named roads: all roads lead to Yellowstone

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Dashiell Hammett's Montana

In Montana Quarterly (summer 2021): A literary giant, Dashiell Hammett invented the American private detective novel. His books The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man became legendary movies. Some say his stripped-down style surpassed even Hemingway in defining both American prose and American masculinity. And his first novel was set in Butte...

[This article is not available online. Please subscribe!]

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Father of the Elk, Stephen Leek

WyoHistory.org

(November 2020)

Seeing double in Yellowstone

The unbelievable journey of Charles Le Raye

Big Sky Journal

(Flyfishing, 2021)

Montana Quarterly

(spring 2021)

Unavailable online
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When White People Stopped Indigenous Elk Hunts In Jackson 

Mountain Journal

(October 2020)

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Racism and Race Horse

Was John Muir racist?

WyoHistory.org

(October 2020)

WyoHistory.org

(August 2020)

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Essay: "A place no longer special"

Why does Yellowstone lap over into Montana?

The ultimate Yellowstone

bear story

THINK Journal

(Winter/Spring 2020)

Big Sky Journal

(late winter 2020)

Big Sky Journal

(summer 2020)

Unavailable online
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John Muir's first mountain stream

Discomfuddled 

hero

Wyoming's "parkitecture"

storySouth

(Autumn 2019)

Big Sky Journal

(winter 2020)

WyoHistory.org  

(March 2019)

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Lake McDonald's hidden history

It's my

Prerogative

Jackson Pollock's Wyoming

Big Sky Journal
(Autumn 2019)

Montana Quarterly

(summer 2019)

Western Art & Architecture 

(Feb 2020)

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Lessons from a previous environmental catastrophe

Mission 66 in Wyoming

When rivals collaborate

National Parks Traveler
(July 2019)

WyoHistory.org

(fall 2019)

John Clayton's blog 

(June 2019)

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John Muir in Yellowstone

The meaning of Yellowstone's bears

Thomas Moran's quest

WyoHistory.org
(August 2018)

Big Sky Journal

(Summer 2018)

Big Sky Journal 

(early 2019)

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How I conquered my addiction to memoirs about drinking

Slack thread under a photo of Betsy Ross' new flag design

Bio-pics of forbidden love

a humorous essay for

Points in Case
(June 2019)

a humorous essay for

Points in Case
(July 2019)

a humorous essay for

Points in Case
(August 2019)

Points West magazine article

Camp Monaco: Buffalo Bill Cody's last hunt

WyoHistory.org
(October 2017)

Montana river scene
Snow-covered house

Last floats
of the Bighorn

"Dear restaurant, Please tell me about my grass"

Montana Quarterly

(Winter 2018)

An essay for Writers on the Range (October 2017)

Ansel Adams photo of Fountain Geyser

Yellowstone and the world's first national forest

WyoHistory.org

(June 2017))

Steve Mather with Horace Albright

What it means to work the wilderness

an essay for 

High Desert Journal

(April 2017)

Dog with funny name

Montana's conservation-vs.-preservation divide

Montana Quarterly

(fall 2017)

More previous work
Previous work
Points West magazine article

Understanding the 1988 Yellowstone fires

Points West, the journal of the Buffalo Bill Center for the West (spring and summer, 2016)

Montana river scene
Snow-covered house

John Steinbeck's Montana

"How to survive a Montana snowstorm"

Montana Quarterly

(Winter 2015)

An essay for LastBestNews (December 2014)

Photos from public domain or copyright John Clayton.

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Additional work
Ansel Adams photo of Fountain Geyser

Yellowstone's boundaries and Zinke's quest

Salon.com

(August 2017))

Ansel Adams photo of Fountain Geyser

A.A. Anderson and the Yellowstone Forest Reserve

WyoHistory.org

(August 2017))

Ansel Adams photo of Fountain Geyser

Ansel Adams in Yellowstone

Big Sky Journal

(Summer 2016))

Steve Mather with Horace Albright

Hang-ups

a humorous essay for 

Outside Bozeman

(July 2017)

Dog with funny name

The odd history of campgrounds in national parks 

Newsweek 

(October 18, 2017)

Steve Mather with Horace Albright

The man who invented dude ranching

Magic City Magazine

(Summer 2017)

Dog with funny name

The biggest-ever federal land grab

Salon.com

(May 2017)

Steve Mather with Horace Albright

Steve Mather and the founding of the National Park Service

Magic City Magazine

(July 2016)

Dog with funny name

"I’m thinking of naming my dog Obamacare"

A humorous essay for Writers on the Range

(June 2016)