At the End of the Road


Coty recently stood before the judge in the Ravalli County Courthouse in Hamilton, answering charges of violating his probation. He is now off probation, and hopes to never go that way again. “Will I ever be in jail again?” He says. “Well, I don’t want to say ‘cause I don’t want to jinx myself.” “This is where I keep my important papers and medications,” says Leah (lower right), pulling a box of files from the trunk. Leah and Ellis use the trunk of their Dodge Diplomat as a locked cabinet for scores of legal papers documenting crimes, adoptions and court records. Although they live at the end of a dead-end road that sees almost no traffic, all of the buildings and most of the trailers on the property are locked.Ellis locks the door to an old camper/trailer he once used for hunting. Now it doubles as a storage locker, complete with sleeping bags, food, a gun and a crossbow. He blames wealthy out-of-staters for many of the problems associated with valley growth. “In the Bitterroot Valley, the poor people are getting poorer,” he says. “The poor people can’t afford to pay taxes so we will have to move out. It makes me want to leave the valley, to someplace where the people are more in my standard.”


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