East Bonner resident recalls 60 years living on the Blackfoot River

Posted at 4:08 PM, May 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 15:00:00-04

BONNER – The Blackfoot River is continuing to ebb and flow and is currently at minor flood stage with the water at just below 11 feet.

One East Bonner resident, who has lived on along the Blackfoot River for more than 60 years, says he’s only seen water this high one other time.

“Well, in 1964 the river come up and went around that rock over there and just like it’s doing now. That’s the only time I’ve seen it do that and I’ve been in the area since 1947. March 1947,” said James Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick moved to the valley in 1947 after serving in the Navy for four years and has lived on his East Bonner property since 1958. With a backdrop of the Blackfoot River for the past 60 years, some would say James knows this river like the back of his hand.

“In my experience since I’ve been around here, the high water tops out around 1st of June because the snow in the high country. I really can’t say, but I think it will probably get higher,” Fitzpatrick said.

As the river is inching closer to James’s shed, neighbors made a call for help.

Fitzpatrick said he is thankful for the volunteers who came out to place sandbags and build a barrier.

His family says there are not many more people left like their 88-year-old grandpa. As they say, he is a true Montana workhorse and holds his own pretty well.

“Growing up like he said, growing up on a farm and stuff, it’s his natural daily life. That’s all he ever knew. Work, work, work. He just keeps going,” said Fitzpatrick’s grandson, Mick Clark.

And as for Fitzpatrick great grandkids, they will just have to wait a little longer than normal to swim and jump off rocks in the Blackfoot River.

“I jumped off when I was 4. Now, its full and I’m scared,” great-granddaughter Haiyden Clark said.

Reporting by Kent Luetzen for MTN News