About Drumlummon Institute

Sometimes the American West looks alien to those of us who have lived here longer than a decade. Things change irrevocably: Landscapes erode and seem to dwindle, views get obstructed, towns turn ghostly or expand exponentially, black soil fades into dust, new industries and ideas call into question our most cherished traditions and notions.

We see ever more clearly that the origins of these changes lie in our tangled history, a history that gets ever more complex the closer we look. It is a history that—despite (or because of) its challenges—has created a marvelously vibrant culture, one that embraces many thriving subcultures within its fluid boundaries.

Drumlummon Institute, headquartered in a brick Victorian (ca. 1881) in Helena, Montana, aims to explore these complexities in hopes that we can better understand our past and take better care in our present.

We will undertake an ambitious and ongoing examination of our region’s culture(s), especially the rich panoply of artistic expressions. To disseminate the outcomes of this examination, we will publish books and an online journal, sponsor symposia and conferences, collaborate with other cultural institutions, and produce documentaries and audio recordings.

Our stated purpose is “to promote and publish art and literatures created in Montana and the broader American West; to encourage, promote, and commission critical writing about cultural productions—including film/ video, visual arts, literature, performing arts, food, scientific discoveries, architecture, and design—created in Montana and the broader American West; to research and publish scholarship about the natural and cultural landscapes of the region; and to produce and promote audio recordings and film/video documentaries on a variety of cultural subjects.”

It’s an ambitious set of aims, but we feel passionately that the place is worth the effort.


A few words about the name Drumlummon: In 1875, Irish immigrant Thomas Cruse discovered a fabulously rich mother lode north of Helena, Montana, near present-day Marysville (for more on Marysville, see Darcy Minter’s essay, “‘It’s Not a Ghost Town ‘til the Last Dog Leaves’: The Ghosts of Tradition in a Montana Mining Camp” in the first issue of DV). The gold and silver mine that he established at the site Cruse called the Drumlummon, naming it after his native parish in Ireland.

ne of the grand strikes of the American West, the Drumlummon Mine produced at least $30 million in bullion, making Cruse a very wealthy man indeed. Here at Drumlummon Institute, through Drumlummon Views and the books we publish, we are seeking quite different forms of wealth—cultural riches of infinitely various sorts—among Montana’s hills and broad river valleys, towering mountains and endless prairies. We hope you’ll join us (and find pleasure) in the search.

(A few more words about the name [this from Dr. Pádraig Ó Dálaigh, Ardoifigeach Logainmneacha /Irish Language Higher Placenames Officer]:

"Droim Lomáin is the official Irish form of (1) Drumlummon civil parish in County Cavan (the correct official anglicised spelling is Drumlumman) and (2) Dromloman, a townland located in the nearby Crosserlough area of the same county. Droim as you point out means 'a ridge' while lomán derives from lommán in Old Irish—from lomm an adjective meaning' bare' and the diminutive suffix—án in Irish meaning 'little'. The Royal Irish Academy Dictionary gives the meaning of a 'tree or branch stripped of its leaves'. It is also an early Irish personal name,including a saint's name, although the personal name was not that common in the early period. The name Droim Lomáin then probably means' the ridge of the bare tree' although the personal name must also be given due consideration.")