Saturday evening we made it into Deer Lodge, MT southeast of Missoula. Our plan is to stay here a couple days and see the sights. We stayed at Indian Creek RV and it is better than most but nothing special. Would love to be back in the forest but the roads are unpaved, really rough and narrow so this RV park will have to do. The area here has such magnificent views in every direction it is hard to decide which is best. Sunday we drove back up Hwy 90 about 30 miles then cut off onto Gold Creek Rd and drove over an old stage road into the wilderness and across the rolling hills and pastures. We even spotted a roadside potty (not really old but clever). Several hours and a few detours later past some aspen groves we came back into Deer Lodge. Then we went into the Grant Kohrs Ranch headquarters which is now a National Park Service Historic Site. Once the headquarters of a 10 million acre cattle empire, Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site is a working cattle ranch that preserves these symbols and commemorates the role of cattlemen in American history. It was founded by Johnny Grant who began wintering cattle in western Montana valleys in the 1850s. The Deer Lodge Valley was especially good winter range due to the high surrounding mountains that captured most of the snow. In 1866, Conrad Kohrs purchased the Grant home and 365 head of cattle. He formed a powerful partnership with his younger half-brother John Bielenberg and continued to graze cattle in this valley while expanding to other ranges in eastern Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Canada. During the open range era, it was possible to become wealthy raising cattle without owning any acreage. Most ranchers did own a base of operations at the least and some, like Conrad Kohrs, owned millions of acres. Conrad Kohrs Warren, Kohrs’ grandson, continued to raise cattle in the Deer Lodge Valley until the 1970s. In 1977 the family sold the ranch to the National Park Service who currently maintain it and operate it year round.
As we left the ranch the wind came up and we could see big storms over the mountains so we drove into Deer Lodge and ate a steak dinner at the Broken Arrow Steakhouse. Not a lot in town but shows signs of former wealth from the cattle industry.