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  • This article by Betsy Marston originally appeared in the Apr 12, 2012 issue of High Country News.
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Topic: Culture & Communities     Department: Heard Around the West     Comments: 0

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A farewell to Montana's grand madam

News: Apr 12, 2012
by Betsy Marston

MONTANA
Ruby Garrett, the racy grande dame of Butte, Mont., died March 17 at age 94. For many years, Garrett was the proprietor of the Dumas, the town's last brothel, until it closed in 1982, reports the Montana Standard. Garrett had a couple of brushes with the law along the way, serving six months in jail for tax evasion and another nine months in prison for killing her common-law husband Andy Arrigoni while he was in the middle of a card game -- firing five bullets at him. As one person familiar with the case tells it, Garrett "was the victim of severe spousal abuse ... and she was beaten so bad that day that when she walked in that Board of Trade to shoot him, they couldn't recognize her." Garrett was also said to have respected and stood up for the women who worked for her. The Dumas, which first opened back in 1890, thrived throughout the town's decades of copper mining, when prostitution was "one of the main professions in Butte," said Bob Butorovich, who served as Butte-Silver Bow sheriff from 1980 to 1992. He should know, since he was the sheriff who shut down the brothel for good 30 years ago. "She was a colorful old gal," he said of Madam Ruby. "Part of Butte history is gone."

Colorado dog

COLORADO He's even cooler than you are. Credit Shaun Gibson

THE DAKOTAS
Are you looking to get away from it all? If so, says writer Pete Carrels, consider South Dakota: It's just the place for people who prefer few neighbors and minimal regulation. A recent report from the South Dakota's Department of Transportation found that of the state's 66 counties, 36 can boast that they lack a single traffic light. But don't even think of bicycling in northwest North Dakota this summer, reports the Associated Press. The oil boom there has filled roads "with mile after mile of big heavy trucks that make cyclists feel very unsafe," says Jennifer Milyko, cartographer with the Missoula, Mont.-based Adventure Cycling Association. "They're scared out of their wits." As of this May, bicyclists who want to retrace the Lewis and Clark expedition will be steered 100 miles south of the association's Northern Tier Route, the biggest change in the nonprofit's 39-year history.

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