The past few weeks I have worked on a story that has captured my imagination.
It is the story of Bill Moran, a lifelong Central New York resident who decided to move to Montana in 1977 and has lived there ever since.
A shortened version will appear in one of our sister publications, the Eagle Observer, and the full story is available on eagle-observer.com if you are interested.
It may not sound that interesting on the surface, but it is the way that he lives and the things that he has done over the years that make for a fascinating story.
Here’s the short version. Moran, who was a nature-lover his whole life, fell in love with the Montana wilderness while spending a few summers there doing biological studies at Flathead Lake.
He was a science teacher and bookstore owner in Marcellus, but after leaving his job as a teacher, due to a dispute with the school board, and selling his bookstore, he had nothing tying him down and decided to leave for Montana.
He bought some land, built his own house and lived with no electricity or indoor plumbing for more than 10 years.
He hunted and raised animals, but still had to work to make ends meet so he took whatever odd jobs he could find including police dispatcher, newspaper reporter, darkroom technician, tour guide, ranch hand and archeological excavator.
In 1989, he built a more modern house that generates electricity from solar panels and has a phone line and internet access, though he still uses water from the nearby creek and an outdoor bathroom.
When interviewing Moran, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the protagonist of one of my favorite books “Into the Wild,” by Jon Krakauer.
The book tells the true story of Chris McCandless, a young man from Virginia who decided to donate all his money to charity and completely abandon his identity to live a life of traveling around the American west after he graduated from college.