Cottonwoods on the Banks of Lolo Creek

". . . a fine bould clear runing stream."

Lolo Creek, Montana

Photo: cottonwoods on Lolo Creek

Cottonwood trees still thrive along Lolo Creek in the vicinity of the ancient Indian campsite Lewis and Clark dubbed "Travelers' Rest." This scene, photographed early in May, 2000, may resemble the view the Corps of Discovery saw on their return here at the end of June, 1806. There are no dams anywhere on Lolo Creek, and nearby residents have kept their livestock from grazing on the the banks, so the propagation of trees and shrubs has continued without major interruptions, as the slender young trunks along the bank attest. However, in many places along Lolo Creek and nearly every other stream in the West, some people are building homes within a few yards of the water, even on the floodplain, at best confining cottonwoods and other riparian vegetation to botanical ghettos, at worst cutting them down so they don't "spoil the view."

The red-orange brush across the creek is one of the numerous species of willow (Salix = SAY-lix, Latin for "willow"), not yet sprung to leaf. In August the small white blossoms faintly discernible at extreme left will become sweet, mealy serviceberries (Amelanchier alnifolia, a-me-LAN-kee-er [a Provençal name for serviceberry] al-ni-FO-lee-a, "alder-leaved").


Senior Citizen

Old Cottonwood Tree

photo: Cottonwood grove

This venerable elder of the local cottonwood community has survived perhaps a full century of the westerly winds that sweep down Lolo Canyon, and now stands 115 feet tall. Cottonwood trees don't like shade, so its neighbors, with their youthful light gray bark, have shed their lower limbs to conserve energy as they reach for their share of sunshine.