Missoula is a city in the U.S. state of Montana and is the county seat of Missoula County. It is located along the Clark Fork and Bitterroot rivers in Western Montana and at the convergence of five mountain ranges, thus is often described as being the "Hub of Five Valleys". The 2010 Census put the population of Missoula at 66,788 and the Missoula Metropolitan Area at 109,299. Since 2000, Missoula has been the second largest city in Montana.

Missoula in SupervolcanoEdit

After a successful show in Spokane, Washington, Squirt Frog and the Evolving Tadpoles had a long trip for next show in Missoula, Montana.[1] The band was pleased to find fans in unlikely places. For instance, when they checked into Ruby's Inn one of the clerks, Tina Morton a cute and skinny young brunette, whistled the start of "Impossible Things Before Breakfast" a song from their latest album Out of the Pond. Rob Ferguson was quite taken with her and comped her a ticket to their show.[2]

Tina recommended the "Stone of Accord" restaurant for dinner. Their waitress also recognized the band and Biff Thorvald comped her a ticket. The food was pretty good and the band toasted Tina with draft Moose Drool stout. No question, life on the road could be fun.[3]

After the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupted, Kelly Birnbaum managed to reach safety in Missoula, which was just outside of the blast-zone. She and two of her colleagues stayed in the apartment of Daniel Olson, another colleague. Kelly and Ruth Marquez shared the bed in the one bedroom apartment while Larry Skrtel had the couch and Olson used a cot he brought in. While crowded, this was better than what some refuges had: tents or even the cars they fled in.[4]

Missoula was at the edge of ash-fall so it was only dusted but that was enough to prevent all transportation. The dust was thick enough to clog the air filter on a car after fifty miles, never mind aircraft. Soon, winds caused it to drift physically blocking the interstates and railroad tracks leaving Missoula isolated with limited food supplies. Most that came was canned with little fresh food available. Eventually, ash built up enough to crush the big natural gas pipeline blocking delivery from further east in Montana. The big fear was what would happen if the electrical power failed next.[5]

Eventually Colin Ferguson was able to get Kelly out by calling in a favor from Roy Schurz, the Police Chief of Orofino, Idaho who reached her in a Humvee borrowed from the National Guard. Schurz took Birnbaum back to Orofino where she could arrange to get back to Berkeley.[6] About a year later Kelly (now Ferguson and married to Colin) met Olson at a geologists' convention in Portland, Oregon where he told her Missoula was still hanging on with electricity but no natural gas. The residents had cut down a lot of trees to get through the previous winter and expected to do so again for the next.[7]

In the autumn two years after the eruption, the US Geological Survey organized an expedition to examine the new caldera. The expedition was organized to start from Missoula and headed east on I-90 in a convoy of Humvees as far as the vehicles could manage and then the geologists proceed on foot. Skrtel headed the expedition along with Kelly Ferguson and Daniel Olson and Professor Geoff Rheinburg as fellow geologists studying the effects of the eruption.[8]


  1. Eruption, pgs. 73-77, HC, generally.
  2. Ibid, pg 74.
  3. Ibid, pgs 76-77.
  4. Ibid., pgs. 205-206.
  5. Ibid., pgs. 205-209.
  6. Ibid, pgs. 225-228.
  7. All Fall Down, pgs. 89-91, HC.
  8. Ibid, pgs. 171-188.

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