August 31, 2015

8/23/15 - Grant-Kohrs Ranch NHS

Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site is just off I-90 in Deer Lodge, Montana.  It was set aside in 1972 as a working cattle ranch to preserve symbols of the American West—like cowboys and horses, cattle barons and cows.  (I had done absolutely NO research on this one, so if you've never heard of it either, I can relate. I’d never actually considered the need for a national park like this.  After all, you can still see all the old westerns on TV.)

Johnny Grant was the original owner and Conrad Kohrs bought the ranch from him and turned it into a huge enterprise. The last owner was Kohrs’ grandson, Conrad Warren. He was a respected cattleman but spent a lot of money breeding and showing fancy dwarf cattle and draft show horses. Don't know why it's Grant-Kohrs Ranch and not Grant-Kohrs-Warren...

Because of our usual mistiming, we missed the house tour.  Not much to see in the Visitor Center, but most of the out-buildings are open and many have exhibits in them.
Ranch House
Bunkhouse Row
We didn’t see any of the cattle, but there were a few of the huge horses chomping on grass in the pastures. 

There’s horse tack all over in the barns and sheds.  This exhibit is in the Buggy Barn. There actually are buggies in the Buggy Barn--buckboards and sleighs too.
There’s more horse tack in the Draft Horse Barn.
There was a volunteer manning the chuckwagon.  He had lots of info and stories about cattle drives. As you can see from the knees on the left side of the picture, George sat down and they had a good ol’ talk.

I wandered out to one of the fields beyond the Thoroughbred Barn for an up-close look at my favorite thing at the whole ranch.  This weird-looking thing is called a Beaver Slide Hay Stacker.  They didn’t bale hay in the late 1800s; they stacked it. They actually use it during harvest season using horses to pile hay into these 50-ton haystacks.
They still do this in some parts of Montana—we first saw them a few years ago on the way to Anaconda and again a couple days ago on the way to our campground. Now I really understand about the needles! It'd be a lot harder to find out in this than in a bale.

I like the jackleg fences beyond the gate.  There was someone out earlier digging postholes--the posthole digger is leaning against the gate.  (The smoke obscuring the hillside is from forest fires in Idaho.)
Interesting place, but does it deserve to be a national historic site?  Well, there's no entry fee so it's way cheaper than a dude ranch...and it is just off the freeway. 

More pictures here:  Grant-Kohrs Ranch NHS 

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