|Location: Rockypoint and Ridge Road at the WY / MT line|
|GPS: 44d 59m 59s -105d 1m 0s|
|Map / Satellite Image: Google Link|
Lightning Flat was settled by homesteaders following World War I at the headwaters of the Gammon Prong of the Little Missouri River. Grace Scott secured a homestead patent for this land in 1923, one of many area parcels claimed by members of that family. By the late 1920s, the town had a dance hall, a general store, a grocery store, and a farm gas station. It also had a fourth-class post office and a weekly newspaper, “The Lightning Flat Flash.” 
Absent irrigation, the local land was poorly suited for grazing and, as such, was “dry farmed.” A series of severe droughts in the late 1920s, and episodes of invading locusts, wiped out most farmers in that area. Much of their land was sold back to the Federal government during the Great Depression. Lightning Flat’s last remaining business, the store, closed in 1936.
The old Scott place is a grand ruin by any measure. It is, by far, the largest structure of its vintage in the region. It is even bigger than the substantial building that Ang Lee chose, and Judy Becker expertly decorated, for use in the film, the former Esslinger house near Beiseker, AB. Those who have visited both places will immediately recognize that the Esslinger house, though itself a crumbling ruin, is in a decidedly better state of preservation than its much larger Wyoming counterpart.
Neither of these buildings is the Twist Ranch of Annie Proulx’s story. She envisioned, and explicitly described, a much simpler, poorer house than the one found here. Her Twist Ranch was modeled upon “the old Childress place” near East Ulm, WY, an area almost as remote as Lightning Flat, located southwest of here, near Buffalo.
Much of the sublime experience of visiting this location derives from the hour of gravel road driving that is required to reach it. Just as Proulx wrote, your journey will be punctuated by occasional abandoned “blank-eyed” ranch houses, though none even approach the majestic old Scott place in their scale and poignancy.
We returned via the Montana road and were both astonished and pleased to spot a “rainbow” windsock on display some five miles north of here. (Reference: 45d 02m 42s -105d 1m 15s). As the “Gay Liberation” slogan of the 1980s proclaimed (admittedly dating ourselves to make a point here), “We are everywhere.”
 Conversation with E. Annie
Proulx, Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina,
Shakestheground, September 14, 2006.
Pictures of surrounding area:
Revised 16 January 2011