How America's cowboys found love in 1997

The options for finding a Valentine this year are endless and relatively simple. After all, there's a plethora of dating websites, social networks, and apps to swipe right or left. Which begs the question: How did people find a date before the internet became the ultimate matchmaker?

To get the answer we dug into our CBS News archives and found an eye-opening story from 1997. That year former CBS News correspondent Harry Smith traveled to Montana to bring the "CBS Evening News" the story of cowboys looking for love in the Old West - a place that seemed as distant as the moon.

Corky Birge rides his horse near his Montana property CBS News

"It's two miles to the mailbox, 50 miles to the grocery store, and 300 miles to the nearest shopping mall," Smith reported from Ft. Peck, Montana.

Featured in the story was a rancher named Corky Birge who was looking for a woman to spend the rest of his life with. Feeling lonely - and secluded by his geographical location - Birge decided to advertise.

"I'm looking for an intelligent lady with a positive attitude towards life," said Birge.

He published in a magazine called "Sweetheart" that operated out of the Sweetheart Ranch in western Montana. The magazine was run by a family: Katie "Cupcake" James, her husband Charlie and daughter Lise.

The publication came out every month and included personal ads distributed free in Montana and Wyoming.

Issues of Sweetheart magazine CBS News

"If you're looking for love, this is the right place," reported Smith.

By all accounts Cupid would be proud. Sweetheart magazine helped connect countless couples, young and old. They even helped connect two 70-somethings who lived miles apart.

"We truly believe there's someone for everyone, and everyone deserves a shot," said Cupcake James.

Betty Jean Dutton believed that, too, so she took out an ad in Sweetheart. She knew just what she was looking for in Mr. Right.

"He's got good family values," said Dutton. "He's willing to go to church with me on Sundays and raise his kids in that lifestyle."

It appeared that Dutton struck gold. A man named Devitt, one of 65 who contacted her after the ad, caught her attention. At the time of the story they were still waiting to meet because Devitt lived 700 miles away in Washington state.

A photo of Devitt, the man of Betty Dewitt found through Sweetheart magazine CBS News

As for Corky, his ad went out but he never found his one true love.

"I met a lot of women and had several long term relationships but just didn't work out," he told us.

We contacted Sweetheart Ranch and discovered that the publication stopped in the early 2000s, but we're told Charlie is still playing the role of matchmaker.

And that's the way it was on Friday, February 14, 1997.