HERE MIGHT BE MORE dinosaurs than people in McCone and Garfield counties in eastern Montana. In fact, they're among the least populated counties in the continental United States. That's not surprising. This is badlands country, and the weather's pretty strange. It gets up to 120 degrees in summer, down to -50 degrees in winter. I think it's beautiful, but then I grew up walking around Montana badlands.
Kathy Wankel is one of those few people who live in McCone County. She and her husband, Tom, have a ranch about sixty miles outside the town of Jordan. The closest neighbor is thirty miles away. When I met them, their three kids went to school twenty minutes down the road from their house. Well, it isn't exactly a school. It's a mobile home. Half is the teacher's house, half is the school. The Wankel kids and two others were the whole student body, kindergarten through junior high.
The Wankels work hard. But they do take Labor Day off. On Labor Day afternoon in 1988, Kathy was fishing with her family in an arm of the Fort Peck Reservoir in the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge. It's a big stretch of badlands about thirty miles from Kathy's house. Except for the cattle that graze on what little grows there, the only animals you're likely to see there are white pelicans and blue herons, a few coyotes, badgers, and a zillion rabbits and ground squirrels. Chances are, even on a holiday, you won't run into any people.
But there's a good chance you'll come across a dinosaur. The hills and gulleys there are made of sand and mud from the time of the last dinosaurs. And the bones of those dinosaurs are scattered throughout
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