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In Fromberg, a craftsman mourns historic Yellowstone National Park inn wood lost to flood

Fromberg artist_Desroches.JPG
Kayla Desroches
Yellowstone Public Radio
Craftsman Rich Holstein poses on a pile of historic wood by his mobile home in Fromberg on June 21, 2022. Much of the material he's collected over the years was destroyed in last week's flood.

Rich Holstein can name the origin of each board of wood piled up next to his mobile home in Fromberg.

"There’s 1904 original flooring," he says, pointing around. "This is 1927 porte-cochère decking."

He’s collected piles of wood over the years to build furniture and picture frames. The flood washed most of it away.

Fromberg was among the towns hit by last week’s floods across south-central Montana. The community of roughly 400 people is located halfway between Billings and Red Lodge.

Holstein steps over his toppled porch stairs to enter his home and points out what looks like a wooden palette against a wall — a barn door. It was work in progress, he said.

Water ravaged his yard and his home, but he returns again to the missing boards of historic wood he spent countless hours gathering.

“Once that piece is gone, you can’t replace it,” he said. “And that’s what I lost in the flood.”

The nonprofit Red Lodge Area Community Foundation estimates the flood damaged about 50 homes in Fromberg. Officials have not yet released a more definite number of primary buildings affected.

Editor's Note June 23: The headline of this piece has been corrected to reflect the region of wood origin.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.