Built in 1915 and finally opening its doors in 1918, the Milk River Valley Church sits quietly on the open plains of Montana. It’s hard to imagine this being a convenient location for a congregation when the nearest town is 10 miles away. And while I stood there in the open field waiting for my sunset shot, I think of what it must have been like 95 years ago on a Sunday morning. Were there horses and buggies out back? Was there that one family who always showed up in their new Ford Model T? What did the choir sound like from the spot I was standing in? These are some of the questions I ask myself that makes me even more fascinated about these places. An abandoned place that I’m about to photograph was once a popular destination at some point in history.
From my research, the church was short lived. Brought on by a major drought in 1917, followed by a decline of farm prices. Farmers had no choice but to leave Montana and look for better farm land from 1918 to 1925. And on top of that, an economy that was effected by WWI. Many of these small rural towns never recovered. Leaving behind the churches and schools of Montana’s past.