The Clark Fork River in Montana suffers from more than a century of extraction, but there's no shortage of praise for the resilience and enduring beauty of the river and its tributaries. Just as the river runs over boulders, drops through cascades, and meanders through its floodplain, the collection of works in The River We Carry With Us represents a wide variety of literary forms and perspectives.


Historical journals and newspaper articles, literary excerpts, nature elegies, memoirs and poems all focus on the people and places of the Clark Fork and its tributaries, offering readers a thoughtful dialogue on the fate of the watershed.

Writers Annick Smith and Rick Bass reflect on the strength of the basin's wild places and the threat posed by extractive practices such as clear-cut logging and cyanide leach mining. Edwin Dobb, a Butte native and contributing editor of Harper's, considers the contaminated upper river, its contribution to American society, and the challenge of reclaiming one of the largest Superfund sites in the country (HCN, 6/7/99: Mining the Past). Authors Ian Frazier and Phil Condon recall daily lives in Missoula, where the Clark Fork surges amid an urban existence.

Carolyn Patterson, born and raised in Missoula, sees the moods of the Clark Fork as a metaphor for her own life and that of her great-grandfather, and historian Jack Nisbet weaves his life with that of pioneer David Thompson. Poet Richard Hugo describes local characters, while newspaper editor Duncan Adams' short essay struts a fine line between love and lust for a river. The collection is illustrated with haunting black-and-white photographs by Mark Alan Wilson.

The River was published as a project of the Clark Fork Coalition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the health of the watershed.

The River We Carry With Us, edited by Tracy Stone-Manning and Emily Miller. Clark City Press, Livingston, Mont., 2002. Softcover $22.95. 246 pages.