CAPTION: Once one arrives in Rexford, Montana, a long, long, long way from anywhere these small signs advertising home-based Amish businesses begin to appear.
This is will be the first in a series of installments over the months ahead about the most remote Amish outposts: Rexford, Montana and St. Ignatius, Montana. Stay tuned for more posts, photos and videos about the Montana Amish in the weeks ahead. I had the opportunity to explore these unique Amish settlements last fall.
A small but resilient Old Order settlement has captured the imagination of outdoorsy Amish for generations, but the "turn-over" rate of this community is high. Most tire of the isolation after a few years and move on. But for Amish men who like hunting and fishing, Rexford is the place to be and has been since the settlement was founded in the early 1970s. And, as I joked with the bishop (who laughed agreeably), if you're a single young Amish woman having trouble finding a date elsewhere, Rexford is also the place to be. Young men outnumber young women here by quite a bit, as they're the ones often attracted by the outdoorsy lifestyle which usually includes bear and elk hunting. These are exotic hauls by eastern standards.
The settlement which numbers only about a dozen families now (the numbers fluctuate frequently) is a small cluster of homes around an Amish-run general store, sawmill, and school. Most use bikes instead of buggies to pedal around since everything is so close.
Most people call the community "Rexford", but that is little more than a mailing address. The town of Rexford is not much more than a remote collection of campsites, a general store, and a post-office about 12 - 15 miles from the Amish community, too far to travel by buggy. The Amish settlement is actually located in a region called West Kootenai deep in grizzly country and across this bridge (the Koocanusa Bridge, named so because it's only about 5 miles from the Canadian border). These aren't scenes one is used to seeing in Amish country, that is for sure! More about Rexford coming soon!