56 Counties: JoAn Marshall, Nathan Carroll

Sep 3, 2019

JoAn Marshall (left), Nathan Carroll
Credit Sabre Moore, Melanie Nashan

Carter County forms the far southeast corner of Montana. Although Carter County averages less than 15 inches of moisture each year, it has a reputation for having some of the best grazing in the state. When cattle first started coming to this region, this was where many of the cattlemen settled, and that is still true today. Carter County is cattle country.


Nearing completion of his Ph.D. in Earth Sciences at USC, Nathan Carroll is the Carter County Museum’s adjunct curator. Nathan is also the founder of the Dino Shindig, which was established in 2013 with fellow students from Montana State where he was working on his Masters Degree studying pterosaurs. His doctoral thesis focuses on dinosaur flight feather evolution, combining three-dimensional amber and lithic fossils and modern feather development to understand how ancient birds adapted flight. The dinosaur-loving Hawaiian shirt connoisseur grew up in Ekalaka, spending his days fossil hunting or sitting in a tractor thinking about fossils.  He has traveled from Brazil to China studying bird and pterosaur collections, but leaps at an opportunity to dig up fossils in Montana.

JoAn Marshall was born on her family ranch 20 miles south of Ekalaka in the Chalk Buttes. She lost both her parents before by the time she was fourteen, and that same year she broke her leg so severely she was laid up for six months. During that time, she determined she was going to become a veterinarian one day, and after finishing her degree at UM in Missola, she was accepted into vet school at Washington State, where she was the only woman in her class. She and her husband Wes ran a vet clinic in Lompoc, California for fifty years, all the time coming back to Ekalaka to help with the family ranch, which she eventually bought and where she is now retired at the age of 85.