In Kaczynski Country

Approaching the Continental Divide in western Montana. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

As we crossed the Rockies on our way to Missoula, we descended into the small hamlet of Lincoln, the redoubt of the Ted Kaczynski. We ran into the woman who cut Ted’s hair after he was arrested. She now refers to herself as the Unabarber. Kaczynski wasn’t a total recluse. In fact, he was a familiar character in town. He used to pedal his bike down to the library, a fine-looking structure about the size of the average two-car garage in some midwestern city like Toledo, Ohio. After Kaczynski was nabbed, much commentary was made about how Kaczynski must of have been deranged, because he lived in such a “cramped and dingy” shack. But the Unabomber’s cabin is a pretty fair replica of the other houses in Lincoln, which real estate agents refer to as “idyllic retreats”, put on the market at $100,000 and find lots of buyers for. Kaczynski lived at the foot of Dalton mountain and from his road I’m told he had a sweeping view of the Blackfoot River valley and a pair of buttes a few miles to the west called Seven-Up Pete.

Unwittingly Ted K and I may have rubbed shoulders in Missoula at a four-day gathering of environmentalists at the University of Montana, called the Second International Temperate Forest Conference, where Kaczynski supposedly signed an attendance list under the name “T. Casinski.” Using Barry Clausen, the bumbling FBI informant who had infiltrated the radical environmental movement, as his source, ABC News’ fear-mongering reporter Brian Ross tried to smear Earth First! by claiming the Kaczynski bombing spree had been inspired by the rather sedate conference and the movement’s newspaper of record, the Earth First! Journal, then being published in Missoula.

Ted K’s cabin outside Lincoln, Montana. Photo: FBI.

But Ted K didn’t need any prodding. Some say the thing that really pissed off Kaczinski in the past few years was the plan by mining giants Phelps Dodge and Canyon Resources to demolish Seven-Up Pete with a new gold mine that would exceed in scale even the giant maw of the Zortman-Landusky mine. It was after the proposals were announced, these folks say, that Ted K. began showing up at environmental gatherings. The Seven-Up Pete plan was certainly outrageous. It called for the two 600-feet tall buttes to be leveled and replaced with a gaping hole 1,200-feet deep. Waste rock would be piled up in 800-foot tall mounds. The cyanide heap-leach pads would sprawl over 900-hundred acres of land. All of it right next to the Blackfoot River, perhaps the world’s most famous trout stream.

These are the sacred waters of Norman Mclean, the river of his book A River Runs Through It. Half of the land for the mine is owned by the state of Montana, the other half is part of a ranch owned by one of Montana’s most famous families: the Baucuses. The ranch is run by John Baucus; his brother Max is the senior US senator for Montana, a fashionable liberal who has the backing of Hollywood stars like Robert Redford. The Baucus family stood to make more than $14 million from leasing out this portion of their ranch a smelter and a mining waste pile.

Just outside Missoula we stop in a little bar called Trixie’s where cowboys, loggers, fly-fishers and river runners mingle, amicably it appears. Trixie was a rodeo showgirl in the forties known for her rope tricks and trick riding. After dark, Trixie, it is said, put her rope to more Sadean purposes and the establishment earned a reputation as one of the more rambunctious whorehouses in the west. Today, the bar serves thick and bloody hamburgers saddled with mountains of ranch fries and ice-cold bottles of Budweiser. Trixie’s is a micro-brew free saloon. Shortly after the feds hauled Ted K. away, Trixie’s began offering a popular t-shirt: “If you want a drink come to Trixie’s, if you want to get bombed go to Lincoln.”

This is excerpted from Born Under a Bad Sky.

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3