The Most Interesting Story You’ll Read All Day

  • Wil Wilkins of Ravalli County, Mont., acknowledges he’s a bit of a throwback. Growing up in West Virginia, he says his mother used to tell him, “You was born a hundred years too late, boy.”
  • It’s an apt description of this self-described “mountain man.” Wilkins is a dedicated practitioner of traditional crafts such as stone masonry, blacksmithing and timber framing — what he calls “the forgotten arts.”
  • He has old-school ideas about patriotism and service, which led him to enlist in the military during the Vietnam era, and he is an ardent conservationist. He’s committed to a traditional ethical code of honor under which, when making an agreement, you keep your word and do what you say you’re going to do.
  • It’s this last commitment that has brought Wilkins into a legal dispute with the U.S. Forest Service over an access road that runs through his property. Wilkins holds that, by allowing public access to the road, the agency has failed to keep its word — and he’s fighting in federal court to hold the bureaucracy accountable.
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