I got waylaid in my processing with a few projects around the house, but I’m back in the photo processing groove again and re-living our visit to Montana. 🙂
On our drive from Billings to Missoula we stopped by Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, near the town of Deer Lodge. That’s not as remote as it sounds, as Deer Lodge lies within sight of I-90, not too far from Helena.
Grant-Kohrs Ranch has an interesting history, dating to the 1860s when the open-range cattle industry had its heyday. Many of the herds were built through trade with westward-bound emigrants, who gladly swapped two or more trail-worn cows for a single well-fed one.
From the NPS website:
“By 1885, cattle raising was the biggest industry on the High Plains, and foreign investors and eastern speculators rushed to get in on the bonanza. As ranches multiplied and the northern herds grew, there came a predictable consequence: overgrazing. This and the fierce winter of 1886-87 caused enormous losses, estimated at one-third to one-half of all the cattle on the northern plains. Many cattlemen never recovered.
If the snows of ’86-87 foreshadowed the end of open range ranching, the homesteaders, with their barbed wire and fenced-in 160 acre claims, finished it off.
The open-range cattle industry lasted only three decades. Few of its pioneering men and women made their fortunes or are remembered today. But from their beginnings has evolved the more scientific ranching of today, with its own risks and uncertainties. That is the legacy of the Grants and the Kohrs, whose pioneer ranch, complete with original furnishings, is a reminder of an important chapter in the history of the West.”
Walking around the ranch, I felt like I was experiencing the plains of Montana much like the early settlers saw it. Miles and miles of open range, perforated now by barbed-wire fences but the long range views remain.
This was another one of those places we visited where we were able to steer well clear of crowds. The few people we saw there seemed to have been mostly attracted by the proximity to the interstate and the availability of restrooms. 😉 For us it was another piece of western history to add to our knowledge of this country.