Around midday on Thursday, May 23, rumors started to circulate on social media that a venerable watering hole improbably located in the dense forest between Lolo Pass and Petty Creek had shut down. It wasn't until later that day that a post on the bar's Facebook page confirmed everybody's fears: "Thank you for all of your business. We are sorry to say this but the Lumberjack has closed its doors," the post read. "Farewell friends."
The Lumberjack Saloon, affectionately called The Jack by those who knew it, was the sort of bar that made you want to spend all day bellied up to a long slab of lacquered wood. The décor was vintage western Montana and paid tribute to the timber industry that brought so many customers down Graves Creek Road and through The Jack's doors. The drinks were no-nonsense and the food was fried or grilled. It was the local hangout for the sorts of people who prefer a few miles between them and their neighbors. It was a destination for everyone else.
Though The Jack's May 23 announcement came without explanation, former patrons let their feelings fly on the bar's Facebook page. Some were to the point and reactionary ("What?! Nooooo!!!!!", "There's tears in my beer."), while others were more reflective: "May the Lumberjack live on forever! Thank you [staff] for all your hard, incredible work, great food, great service, phenomenal music and just plain being there for all of western Montana and especially those of us who live on Petty Creek. You have been our cultural center for a long time and please know we appreciated every minute of it."
As of May 28, there were more than 200 comments on The Jack's Facebook page lamenting the closure of what one online travel magazine named one of "the 10 most colorful bars in Montana."
But not everyone who knew The Jack is ready to mourn. Since announcing its closure, the bar's phones have been disconnected and its website pared down to a single page with the message, "THE LUMBERJACK WILL BE CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE." Which has at least one Facebook commenter worried more about pragmatics than eulogies. "Yeah this totally sucks," she wrote. "My wedding was scheduled for Sept. there, please contact me asap to send refund check!"