KPAX Country

Jul 18, 2013 6:34 PM by Dan Cimmino - KPAX News

Tourism keeping Darby afloat

DARBY - Back in the good ole days Darby use to serve as an Economic Powerhouse to the Bitterroot Valley where the money has since come and gone, but it was certainly money earned.

"Growing up in Darby was a tough world back then. I mean we had 5 saw mills here, probably upwards of 10 logging crews. This was a thriving community; I mean it was a THRIVING community. It was a great place to raise a family; in fact a lot of the people in the entire Bitterroot leaned off of Darby. They drove from Hamilton, Stevensville; they had steady jobs here at the sawmills. Now we have no sawmills here, no logging crews, so in Darby it's a struggle to survive," said Cal Ruark, Lifetime Darby Resident.

The logging industry use to serve as the backbone for the Darby economy, but now it's more or less Logger Days and other fun summer activities drawing tourists in giving an economic boost.

"But the people are really resilient so they've bounced back and started doing some other things. The community has really pulled together to support a lot of the different events we put on. We've got some major events that go on during the year," said Rick Scheele, former Darby Mayor.

This week Darby will host its 12th annual Logger Days and in addition has a strawberry festival on Saturday. In fact this past weekend the Richard Cromwell Memorial Arena was host to over 2500 rodeo fans for the Darby Bull O Rama.

"I've seen it from a timber base and ranching based economy to an economy that's fueled by tourism so you have to change how you operate because if you don't Darby wouldn't look like it does today," said Ruark.

And while the town's structure is different, the character remains the same.

"And overall the people in Darby are friendly and they care. That's what's good about this town. You know it's the old school where you look somebody in the eye and it's a handshake and that's the way it is," said Ruark.

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