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Visit Deer Lodge MT Welcome to Deer Lodge Montana where you can experience Montana's History in 12 city blocks.

26/12/2023

Buildings in Deer Lodge, Montana, including a livery stable, drug store, and brewery. City Hall and a store front with D. B. Halderman and J. Rosenthal on the front are also pictured. In the foreground of the image is an ox team pulling two wagons. The team was owned by Hoffman and Groves, and they delivered wood to the town in the wagon This block was destroyed by fire in 1872.

26/12/2023

View of owner (Jensen, at left) and clerks, and possibly patrons, in grocery store on Main Street in Deer Lodge, Montana. Shelves are lined with canned goods, glass cases are filled with food and ci**rs; artfully arranged boxes and stamped tin ceiling are prominent.

11/12/2023

Deer Lodge Women’s Club
Women’s suffrage was at the political forefront when Edward Gardner Lewis, a St. Louis promoter and publisher of women’s magazines, founded the American Women’s League in 1908. Lewis saw the League as the perfect means to promote American womanhood. League membership was achieved through magazine subscription sales or pledges of $52 worth of Lewis’ publications. In exchange, the League constructed 39 local chapter houses in 16 states including two in Montana at Avon and Deer Lodge. Unfortunately, Lewis went into bankruptcy as the Deer Lodge house reached completion. Founding League member Alma Bielenberg Higgins appealed to her father, Nicholas J. Bielenberg, who purchased the mortgage. He then donated the building to the women of Deer Lodge in memory of his daughter, Augusta, who died in 1901. The Deer Lodge Woman’s Club has since maintained the facility, which has always served its intended function as a women’s cultural, literary, and social center.

03/12/2023

The Montana Standard - April, 1939
SHIP TO SCATTER PIONEER'S ASHES OVER MT. POWELL
"Tonight, as the shades of darkness draw quietly about the slopes of snow-capped Mt. Powell, the cloud-haloed sentinel of the Deer Lodge Valley -- they will hide within their gentle fold all that is mortal of two of Montana's most beloved pioneers -- Mr. and Mrs. Frank Conley -- each of whom answered the last call since the first snows of the last winter.
At 11 0'clock this morning an airplane carrying two urns of ashes from the Great Falls crematory, will take off from that city in route to the homeland of the deceased couple. The ship will drop down at Butte where it will take aboard two daughters of the Conley's and a few close friends. Leaving Butte the large skyliner will head into the Northwest. It will dip gently over the city of Deer Lodge, then bank into the West to circle Mount Powell.
And up there somewhere about where the clouds kiss the mountain top, the giant motors will be throttled down for a brief moment while the urns are emptied over the side of the ship and ashes of the two pioneers consigned to eternal nature. Far below will be seen the landmarks of the Conley ranch, where the family spent so many happy years, and not so far beyond, the enchanting blue waters of the Conley Lake, where the former trailblazer spent his spare hours with reel and rod; boat, gun and dog.
The ceremony is one that was especially requested by Mr. Conley more than two years ago during a motor ride to his ranch in company with Art Kelly, division traffic manager for Western Air Express and other friends. "When I die" Conley said to Kelly, "I want you to do me a last favor."
"Sure, what is it?" asked the Airline executive.
"Crank up one of your sky doodlebugs and scatter my ashes over this mountain you see ahead." And then, thoughtfully he added "and do the same for my wife."
At the time of this conversation, Mr. Conley was playing host to a group of friends as he and his wife had so often done in the past.
Mr. Kelly promised that his wish would be carried out.
A year later, on the death of Mrs. Conley, Mr. Kelly called up and asked if he should carry out the first half of the bargain.
"No, hold a spell" replied Conley. "I'll be with her inside of two months."
True enough, about two months later Mr. Conley became ill. He came to Butte and entered Murray hospital. His friend Kelly called to see him a few days before he died. "Don't forget your promise" said the grizzled old veteran who was headed for the last roundup.
And today the promise will be kept. The plane that brings his ashes from Great Falls will be in charge of A. W. Stephenson, pioneer pilot since the autumn of 1928. Also on the plane will be Miss Loye Harmon, stewardess of Los Angeles and Traffic Manager Art Kelly. Boarding the plane in Butte will be two of Conley Daughters -- Hilda and Helen and a few close friends from Butte and Deer Lodge.
The history of Frank Conley is the history of Montana. Stage hand, range rider, Indian fighter, deputy sheriff and Warden of the State Penitentiary. His exploits constitute one of the colorful chapters in the winning of the west. Big in mind as he was in stature, jovial, generous to a fault and brave as a lion -- his name in Montana is as imperishable as the mountain he loved."

Best state!
08/11/2023

Best state!

Thank you to Josh Perkins!
19/10/2023

Thank you to Josh Perkins!

Dillon Tribune 01 Nov 1884
01/10/2023

Dillon Tribune 01 Nov 1884

Learning to carve wood is a talent which requires patience! On display at The Powell County Museum in Deer Lodge.
18/08/2023

Learning to carve wood is a talent which requires patience! On display at The Powell County Museum in Deer Lodge.

Did you know that you can visit the Powell County Museum adjacent to Cottonwood City for FREE? Yes, this little museum i...
11/08/2023

Did you know that you can visit the Powell County Museum adjacent to Cottonwood City for FREE? Yes, this little museum is free! Take the time to visit.

Visiting the Powell County Museum today!
11/08/2023

Visiting the Powell County Museum today!

The Yellowstone Trail
11/08/2023

The Yellowstone Trail

This photo is of Mayor Frank Conley outside Hotel Deer Lodge. I believe the photo was taken to show his new car. The May...
05/08/2023

This photo is of Mayor Frank Conley outside Hotel Deer Lodge. I believe the photo was taken to show his new car. The Mayor and his wife were investors in the Hotel and were the first guests when the hotel opened March 20, 1912. The hotel opened with 52 guest rooms and 14 offices. The accounts all called it “one of the finest in Montana” because of the elevator and the hot and cold water in all rooms.

04/08/2023

The E-70 on display at the PCMAF is a proud symbol of the Electric era on The Milwaukee Road. "Little Joe" E-70 served on The Milwaukee Road for more than a quarter century. It was built by General Electric in late 1948 as one of twenty electric locomotives originally intended for the Soviet Union's Trans-Siberian Railway. The beginning of the Cold War and the breakdown in East-West relations, prevented the locomotives from being delivered to Russia. With this situation, General Electric had to find other buyers.
The best potential customer for the motors, which had earned the nickname- "Little Joes"-a reference to the Soviet leader Josef Stalin, was The Milwaukee Road. The railroad was able to purchase twelve of these units at bargain prices. This permitted the Milwaukee to update its electrified operations without cutting into the acquisition of diesel engines.
E-70 was the first "Little Joe" to operate on The Milwaukee Road. It was delivered to Harlowton, Montana in December, 1948 for a 4 month trial.
All twelve "Little Joes" were assigned to the Rocky Mountain Division in Deer Lodge and were painted in the Milwaukee Road's then standard colors of Orange, Black, and Maroon. Two units were equipped with train heating boilers for use in passenger service. The other Joes, including the E-70, were used exclusively in freight service.
The Locomotives did service the Milwaukee from 1950-1974. Electric operations were discontinued in 1974, and the system was scrapped in favor of an all-diesel operation.
Due to 20 years of deterioration at that site, a restoration plan was initiated. Project E-70 started out as an idea of several ex-employees in 1984 but did not get much attention, and only about $300 was raised. The Historical group "MILWEST" entered the project in 1992. Working with Powell County Museum and Arts Foundation over $60,000 was raised to move and paint the locomotive. It was moved to its present location in October 1993, thanks to a Grant obtained through the U.S. Forest Service.

16/05/2023

Join Lee Silliman on an adventure back in time as he revisits Frederic Re*****on. Re*****on, a keen observer and artist, illistrated many pictures of the closing phase of thee frontier.

11/05/2023

This beautiful headstone in “Japanese Row” of Deer Lodge’s Hillcrest Cemetery marks the grave of six-year-old Shigeko Nishimura, who died of appendicitis in 1916. Nishimura was part of Deer Lodge’s substantial Japanese community in the early 1900s, which was comprised primarily of laborers and their families who came to help build the Great Northern Railway and Milwaukee Road. By 1940, the Japanese community in Deer Lodge counted fewer than 12 individuals representing two families and two single men. Among those buried in Japanese Row include the last, longtime Deer Lodge Japanese residents, the Nishimura and Hamada families. The last interred was Sada Hamada who lived much of her life at Deer Lodge and died in 1983 at the age of ninety-four.

One of Montana’s oldest existing, active cemeteries—the Hillcrest Cemetery—includes more than 4,600 graves that date from 1870 to the present. The cemetery represents the final resting place of many prominent Montana pioneers and mirrors major events that impacted the Deer Lodge community, Montana Territory, and the state. In March, Hillcrest Cemetery joined Montana’s prestigious list of properties included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Read the compelling nomination prepared by former MTHS historian Ellen Baumler.
https://mhs.mt.gov/Shpo/docs/NRnoms/MT_PowellCounty_HillcrestCemetery.pdf

10/05/2023

As the Great Depression ran roughshod over the United States during the 1930’s, farms and ranches across the country bore the brunt of the worst economic downturn of the 20th century. With the Dust Bowl suffered by the plains’ states and the bottom falling out of cattle prices, many depression era crop and livestock growers lost everything while others did what they could to survive.

“The horse business kind of saved us during the depression,” recalled Con Warren who had taken over as ranch manager in the 1930’s. The grandson of the late Con Kohrs, Warren branched into the draft horse business as a means of keeping the ranch afloat during those sullen years. Building a herd of registered Herefords, Con decided that instead of replacing a herd of aging workhorses in a piecemeal fashion, he would raise them on the ranch, using teams as needed and selling others to fellow ranchers.

By late 1933, the burgeoning rancher stated, “if we’re going to raise some horses, let’s raise some good horses.” Scaffolding his approach to the venture, Con visited horse shows in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. After viewing the available stock, he ranged east to Ohio and picked up his first two brood mares from the State university and then added a third from Earl Brown's herd in Wisconsin.

By 1936 Warren's herd of Belgians totaled about fifty brood mares, three stallions, and four draft horse teams. Many of the horses carried names still remembered at the home ranch and in Deer Lodge for their fine quality descendants and their own grace and stature. Mares named "Sarah De Chorise," and "Re Coninsante" (all showing their geographic origins within Belgium) were some of the earliest and most fondly recalled animals in the new herd at Deer Lodge. One of the prize stallions, "Bloc II de Nederswalm of Antwerp," sired many colts, as did "Brooklyne De Uccle."

The business grew in reputation as Warren became one of the most renowned draft horse breeders in the nation. In an article by Charles M. Wilson published in a 1937 edition of Scribner’s Magazine, Con was mentioned as, “supplying Montana with a creditable foundation of good horseflesh.”

The business’ prosperity only stood to reason thanks to depression era economics. Few farmers of the time could afford new tractors, and the demand for horses remained steady.

But America's farms became more and more mechanized during the last few years of the 1930's. The draft horse business tapered off then, so when the Holbert Horse Importing Company of Greely, Iowa approached Con on the matter, he sold the entire herd. They soon became a prize of the Rockerfeller Estate. The Warren Ranch dropped the horse operation as World War II brought rather austere days to the ranch.

Today, the ranch still employs draft horsepower as a means of moving buck rakes, mowers, and hay wagons. Four Belgian mares and two Percheron geldings, call the ranch home, and can often be seen working at the ranch.

Photo depicts two Beligian draft horses, side-by-side in full harness.

10/05/2023

In the heart of the Deer Lodge Valley, there's a place where families can learn about Montana's rich cattle ranching history.At Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Histo

02/05/2023

April 29, 1866 Granville Stuart recorded in his journal an astonishing event he witnessed in Fort Benton. “A freight wagon drawn by four mules and escorted by a company of miners, arrived. The wagon was loaded with two and one-half tons of gold dust, valued at one million five hundred thousand dollars. The gold was all from Confederate gulch and was shipped down the river by steamboat. This was the first and only time that I ever saw a wagon load of gold dust.” Pure refined gold was worth $20.67 an ounce in 1866.

02/05/2023

May 2, 1862 Granville Stuart and Auboney were married at Johnny Grant’s ranch in the Deer Lodge Valley. James Stuart mentioned the occasion: “Granville was married today to Auboney, a Snake Indian girl, a sister of Fred Burr’s wife. She had been living with Burr’s family, is a fairly good cook, of an amiable disposition, and with few relatives” Auboney eventually had 9 children with Granville yet is only mentioned once in his seminal account of Montana history "Forty Years on the Frontier." MHS photo of Granville Stuart.

19/04/2023

April 19, 1863 Montana pioneer Granville Stuart was at his cabin at Gold Creek and noted some business dealings he had on this day in his diary. “Traded four gallons of pure spirits to J. M. Morgan for a good new horse. This would seem to be a rather high price for spirits but Morgan will add a few pounds of plug to***co, a quantity of cayenne pepper, some mountain sage tea and rain water enough to fill a barrel. This will enable him to start in the whiskey trade in first class shape.”

09/04/2023

Discovery and Disaster on April 9, 1863 James Stuart and fourteen men started from Bannock City destined for the Yellowstone and Big Horn Rivers. Their purpose was to discover new gold mines and secure town sites. The expedition had an inauspicious beginning but a fortunate outcome for a few. On May 3 the party camped near Pompey’s Pillar where they found the names of William Clark and two of his men carved into the rock. Stuart commented “no wonder the Crows like this country; it is a perfect paradise for a hunter.” On May 5 they reached their destination, the mouth of the Big Horn River and on the 6th, they surveyed the “Big Horn City” town site and located 160 acre ranches for each member of the expedition. On May 13 the sentinels heard something around the horses “and a few seconds later the Crows fired a terrific volley into the camp…Four horses were killed, and five more wounded, while in the tents two men were mortally, two badly, and three more slightly wounded…C.D. Watkins was shot in the right temple, and the ball came out at the left cheek-bone…E. Bostwick was shot in five places…H.A. Bell was shot twice…D. Underwood was shot once, but the ball made six holes…H.T. Geery was shot in the left shoulder blade with an arrow…George Ives was shot in the hip with a ball – a flesh wound…S.T. Hauser in the left breast with a ball, which passed through a thick memorandum – book in his shirt pocket, and stopped against a rib over his heart the book saving his life.” It was only a matter of time for Watkins, but Bostwick was conscious and in pain. He knew he couldn’t travel so he asked for his revolver and told his companions that he would inflict as much damage on the Indians as he could, but shortly after the party moved out, they heard the report of his pistol. Bostwick ended the pain by shooting himself in the head. Stuart and the remainder of his party eventually made it back to Bannack only to learn that the party of Bill Fairweather, who they were supposed to rendezvous with, were captured and sent back by a party of Crow. On their return to Bannack these fortunate men discovered a world class deposit of gold, Aler Gulch. Sam Hauser who was shot in the chest but was not wounded served as territorial governor and was a successful entrepreneur George Ives on the other hand was hanged at Nevada City in Dec. 1863. MHS photo of Sam Hauser about 1878.

05/04/2023

In the early spring of 1886 Johnny Grant found himself in financial trouble and nearly bankrupt. He decided it would be worth spending what little gold dust and money he had left to take a trip back to Montana in hopes of collecting old debts and seeing some familiar faces.

Grant arrived in Deer Lodge on or about April 4, 1886, and immediately went to visit his former home and good friend Conrad Kohrs. The house still looked pretty much the same as when Grant had constructed it a few decades earlier. “No place I had felt as I did now at the sight of my old chimney. My heart came up to my throat. I could have set there and wept like a child at the recollection of those days.” The only changes he observed were renewed shingles on the roof and several trees in the front lawn.

Conrad Kohrs answered the door but didn’t recognize the man on his porch. Johnny thought this would be a good opportunity to have a little fun with his old friend and asked if he was willing to “hire a man” to which Conrad quickly responded “I have all the men I need. I have no work for more.” It was raining that day and the two men continued their conversation on the porch until Johnny eventually asked if he could possibly come in to get out of the rain.

The two men entered the house and sat down together in the formal parlor of the ranch house. Grant continued to act shy as he observed the elegance of the room. After a few minutes of talking Grant began asking Conrad about old friends, this immediately triggered a memory in Conrad to which he said, “surely you are not Johnny?” Once Kohrs realized who was sitting in his home he immediately grabbed a hold of Grant’s hand and vigorously shook it while saying “well John, I’m glad to see you. You are welcome.”

For the rest of the afternoon Johnny met the Kohrs family, had a lovely meal, took a tour of the stables, and learned how successful Conrad had become after purchasing Grant’s original ranch and stock. “Con was rich in fact he was a millionaire. He had climbed the ladder and I had went down. I did not regret it. I expected it. I preferred poverty rather than run the risk of seeing any of my sons meet with a tragic death.”

Grant found that most people that owed him money were reluctant to pay old debts. It was different with Conrad Kohrs. He was very generous and eager to help his old friend. Kohrs loaned Grant horses and paid for most of his expenses while visiting Montana. This allowed Grant to travel around the area to visit acquaintances in Idaho and to witness the large-scale mining and smelting operations in both Anaconda and Butte, which were not yet established when Grant lived in Deer Lodge.



Image Description: A black and white composite image featuring a picture of Johnny Grant (left) and Conrad Kohrs (right).

10/01/2023

The Hard Winter of 1886-87; The Beginning of the End of the Open Range:
“On January 8, 1887, it snows for sixteen hours straight in a rate of an inch an hour. Then it stayed twenty-below for ten days, and a second blizzard, worse than the first, hit. The temperature dropped to almost sixty-below. “ It snowed all through November, then a chinook came in December melting the snow which was followed by sub-zero temperatures which froze the remaining grass, and then the blizzards hit.
Granville Stuart wrote; “ In 1880, the country [central Montana] was practically uninhabited…In the fall of 1883, there was not a buffalo remaining on the range and antelope, elk, and deer were indeed scarce. In 1880, no one had heard of a cowboy…but in the fall of 1883, there were over 600,000 head of cattle on the range. The cowboy…had become an institution.”
It was an environmental and economic catastrophe that took decades to rebuild from and inspired Charlie Russel’s “Waiting for a Chinook.”

Jan. 1, 1862: A New Year’s Celebration: From Granville Stuart:“Very Cold in afternoon. Raw east wind. Everybody went to ...
01/01/2023

Jan. 1, 1862: A New Year’s Celebration: From Granville Stuart:
“Very Cold in afternoon. Raw east wind. Everybody went to the grand ball given by Johnny Grant at Grantsville and a severe blizzard blew up and raged all night. We danced all night…
The next day he wrote: “Still blowing a gale this morning. Forty below zero and the air filled with driving, drifting snow. No one ventured to even try to go home. Johnny Grant, good hospitable soul, invited everyone to stay until the storm should cease. We accepted his invitation without a dissenting voice. After breakfast we laid down…on buffalo robes that Johnny furnished, all dressed as we were and slept until about two o’clock in the afternoon, when we arose, ate a fine dinner…then resumed dancing which we kept up with unabated pleasure until about nine in the evening, when we paused long enough to eat an excellent supper. We then began where we left off and danced until sunrise.”
On January 3: “The blizzard ceased…Everyone got home without frost bites.”

02/10/2022

On October 2, 1918 Granville Stuart died at Missoula, Montana. Stuart was a prospector, storekeeper, author, cattleman and a diplomat. In 1858 Stuart, his brother James and Reece Anderson were some of the first white men to discover gold in the Deer Lodge Valley, what was then part of Washington Territory. He was one of the founders of the Montana Historical Society. His book “Forty Years on the Frontier” is a must read for any student of early Montana history.

14/09/2022

In 1868, 19-year-old German immigrant Augusta Kruse married Conrad Kohrs and headed west to Deer Lodge, Montana. She embarked on a 77-year journey, helping to develop one of Montana’s largest and best-known cattle ranches – the Grant-Kohrs Ranch. Though she is touted for bringing Victorian style and culture to her ranch house and Helena mansion, her contribution to the business is often overlooked. Following the death of Conrad, Augusta guided ranch management for decades, grooming grandson Con Warren to eventually lead the operation. He remembered her role in the business, saying that “Grandfather wouldn't have dared to leave her out of the decision-making."

Learn about Augusta’s contributions to the Kohrs cattle empire at:
http://www.gkrf.org/augusta-kohrs/

Learn about women’s role in Montana’s agricultural development at:
https://montanawomenshistory.org/category/agriculture/

Photo credit. Augusta Kohrs in 1882. Courtesy of Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, Photo Number GRKO 15891. Available online at https://www.mtmemory.org/nodes/view/91566.
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25/08/2022

Happy 50th Birthday!!!

On August 25, 1972, President Richard Nixon signed legislation that officially designated Grant-Kohrs Ranch as a National Historic Site.
This new addition to the National Park Service would provide a place where visitors could learn firsthand how the Open Range Cattle Era helped shape America and experience the life of a frontier cowboy and rancher through “living history” interpretation.

Come out to the ranch on Thursday, August 25 and join in on the celebration. Throughout the day there will be a special birthday edition scavenger hunt that guests of any age can pick up at the visitor center. Once completed bring it back for a special gift!

There will also be a special program from 11 am to 1 pm in the pasture adjacent to the visitor center. Join a ranger to learn about how the camp cook would have prepared meals along the trail and try a small sample of authentic “son of a gun stew.”

At 7 pm there will be a concert and fundraising event held at the Rialto Community Theatre featuring the “Best of Bannack." This event is sponsored by the Grant-Kohrs Ranch Foundation. There will be refreshments available and park staff on hand to answer any questions.

We hope you can make it to the ranch to celebrate this golden birthday!!!!

Image Description: A view of the ranch looking west towards the Flint Creek Mountain Range.

24/08/2022

Aug. 23, 1866: Conrad Kohrs bought out Johnny Grant for $19,000, a tremendous some of money for the time. Johnny Grant was based in Deer Lodge and is considerd by many to be the first rancher in Montana. Kohrs came Bannack and took over Hank Crawford's butcher operation in the spring of 1863 after Crawford attempted to shoot Henry Plummer in the back but instead shot him in the right elbow. Kohrs and Grant are amzing characters in history. I'm not an expert on either man buut Grant returned to Canada and Kohrs becomes, probably, one of the largest ranchers in American history. The Grant-Kohrs National Historic Site in Deer Lodge, Montana is a great place to visit.

20/07/2022
23/06/2022
Glad I got to grow up on Dempsey Creek!
16/06/2022

Glad I got to grow up on Dempsey Creek!

June 15, 1861 Pioneer Granville Stuart recorded this humorous story in his diary at Gold Creek. “Today I received a visit from Johnny Carr and Frank Newell. They told me of a fierce single combat they had witnessed up at Dempsey’s between Mrs. Dempsey and Charles Allen. Mrs. Dempsey was busy at the woodpile, chopping the day’s supply, when Charlie ‘half-shot’ came along and began to issue orders. Right there the fight began. Mrs. Dempsey landed away with the ax but missed. Thereupon Charlie grabbed for the lady’s hair. His aim was more certain when he got one handful, whereupon the lady lit in with both hands and in two seconds Charlie’s face looked like he had had an encounter with a wildcat. This desperate onslaught caused him to lose hold of her hair. She grabbed a stick of wood and used it with such good effect that she put the enemy to flight, but not before she had blacked both eyes, knocked out a tooth and scratched his face until his best friend would fail to recognize him. Mrs. Dempsey is known in these parts to be a lady of uncertain temper but ‘more power to her elbow,’ say we all, for who could put up with the gang of drunken loafers that hang around Dempsey’s without losing their temper.”

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