Some things just don’t change, but not without a fight. Ten years ago, Polebridge, Montana, was a tiny speck on the map where a few people lived without electricity or “indoor plumbing.” We were there for the Fourth of July when the town swarmed with thousands of visitors.
This year, visiting in August, the town was nearly empty, and looked almost exactly as we had remembered it.
The general store still sells tee shirts, but has a much more extensive bakery section, with goodies that are nearly impossible to resist. Unfortunately, one of the treasures lost over time was the single post office window with the small wicker basket for outgoing mail set in one of the walls. The store does provide groceries and supplies, and serves as a gathering place for locals and visitors alike.
Know that the rustic outback of Polebridge means using a one-seater outhouse with a screen door facing the horse pasture, but you can get wi-fi from the mercantile — an odd crash of the 18th and 21st centuries.
The town’s other buildings include a saloon/cafe, a performace stage, and some rental cabins. It’s a quiet spot, inhabited, it seemed, by youthful adults drawn to a lifestyle that’s primarily off the grid, requiring self-sufficiency and plenty of stamina for the Montana winter.
The road to Polebridge is mostly gravel — rough gravel at that. This is the way the locals like it. They’ve won hard-fought battles over the years preventing the road from being paved because they know it will keep the numbers of tourists and new residents down, and they’re right. Look close, and you’ll see the dust trail of the car that flew by us.
If you’re looking for a long, rough drive, to a quaint spot in relative wilderness where there’s little to do, Polebridge is your destination!