You might find them on the roadside, offering a friendly wave or singing carols in the snow. Maybe they’re hosting a family gathering, gardening, or tinkering with their old pickup truck out front. No matter the time of year, you’ll always find them greeting visitors on the north end of Wilsall. They are the spine of their community—no bones about it.

“People are always stopping to see our skeletons,” says
Betty Hogenson.

Since 2015, she’s made a regular tradition of dressing up and arranging life-sized skeletons in her yard, which faces north Elliot Street (the most heavily trafficked road in Wilsall). Travelers along Highway 89 can’t miss her quirky yard decorations. And quite often, they stop for a photo op.

“We once met tourists from Switzerland who had pulled over to take pictures,” says Betty with delight.

She and her husband, John, have long been active in their community and have owned and operated Hogenson Construction in Wilsall since 1979.

When Betty was recovering from breast cancer in 2015, John remembered that she had always wanted a farm truck to decorate. He went to locals Ned and Cindy Zimmerman, and they were gracious enough to let him haul away an old pickup from their ranch for her.

At Halloween, Betty’s grandchildren suggested she place a life-sized skeleton in the driver’s seat, and since then, the skeleton displays have continually grown more elaborate and amusing. It’s impossible not to tap the brakes and see what new creation Betty’s cooked up.

“It’s fun to do, and people like to see them,” says Betty, understating the role her skeletons play in the community.

The truth is that it’s easy to breeze past small towns on the highway. It’s only when something unexpected catches our eye that we snap out of our tunnel vision and regard our surroundings. For this reason, Betty’s skeletons are more than decoration, more than a roadside attraction; they’re the town welcoming party. And they’re inviting you to rest your bones in Wilsall.