• "Evelyn Cameron Kneading Bread," ca. 1906. Evelyn Cameron and her husband ranched in Eastern Montana and documented their experience in photos and a detailed journal. Courtesy of the Montana Historical Society Research Center via Big Sky Country Digital Network.

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    Evelyn Cameron kneading bread
    • Date
    • 1904-08
    • Creator
    • Cameron, Evelyn, 1868-1928.
    • Description
    • Evelyn Cameron in her kitchen leaning over to knead pan full of bread dough; standing in front of corner cupboard and between a small table and cook stove.
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC-EDU/1.0/.
    • Partner
    • Big Sky Country Digital Network
    • Contributing Institution
    • Montana Historical Society Research Center

  • "A.E. Close with White Wolf," 1930. For many years, this white wolf destroyed large numbers of livestock in the Judith Basin. A full taxidermy mount of the animal is on display in Stanford, Montana. Courtesy of the Judith Basin County Free Library via Big Sky Country Digital Network.

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    A.E. Close with White Wolf
    • Date
    • 1930
    • Creator
    • Unknown.
    • Description
    • For many years the white wolf in this picture destroyed large numbers of livestock in the Judith Basin. A. E. Close, who killed the wolf in May, 1930, is shown here holding the carcass. His dogs are with him. Close was a rancher in the Willow Creek a... more
      For many years the white wolf in this picture destroyed large numbers of livestock in the Judith Basin. A. E. Close, who killed the wolf in May, 1930, is shown here holding the carcass. His dogs are with him. Close was a rancher in the Willow Creek area near Stanford, Montana. Courtesy of the Judith Basin Historical Society. less
    • Rights
    • Https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/.
    • Partner
    • Big Sky Country Digital Network
    • Contributing Institution
    • Judith Basin County Free Library

  • "Coring Wool on Hughes Ranch," 1946. Courtesy of the Judith Basin County Free Library via Big Sky Country Digital Network.

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    Coring Wool on Hughes Ranch
    • Date
    • 1946
    • Creator
    • Unknown.
    • Description
    • Robert Lillegard is coring (taking a core sample of) wool on the Hughes Ranch. Harley Hughes and Wm. I. Hughes (on right) are sitting on the filled wool sacks.
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.
    • Partner
    • Big Sky Country Digital Network
    • Contributing Institution
    • Judith Basin County Free Library

  • "Hoisting Water for Irrigation, Montana," ca. early 1900s. Irrigation is an essential part of maintaining land for grazing. Courtesy of the Montana Historical Society Research Center via Big Sky Country Digital Network.

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    Hoisting Water for Irrigation, Montana
    • Creator
    • Forsyth, N. A.
    • Description
    • This collection consists of 556 stereographs taken by N. A. Forsyth from circa 1901 to circa 1911. The views capture Montana locations that Forsyth visited primarily between the years 1906 and 1909. The bulk of the images are of Butte, Montana (inclu... more
      This collection consists of 556 stereographs taken by N. A. Forsyth from circa 1901 to circa 1911. The views capture Montana locations that Forsyth visited primarily between the years 1906 and 1909. The bulk of the images are of Butte, Montana (including street scenes, Columbia Gardens, and mining), Glacier National Park, the activities of the 1906-1908 Bison roundup, and family groups of Montana Indian tribes (including the Flathead, Cree, Crow, and Blackfeet). Other subjects include Anaconda, Montana; farms and ranching; lumber; the 1908 Missoula, Montana, flood; Cromwell Dixon and the 1911 Montana State Fair; Morrison Cave (later known as Lewis and Clark Caverns), and Yellowstone National Park. less
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC-EDU/1.0/.
    • Partner
    • Big Sky Country Digital Network
    • Contributing Institution
    • Montana Historical Society Research Center

The early cattle industry in Montana began to supply fur trading posts and missions with meat. In the 1850s, fur traders like Richard Grant began buying exhausted cattle from wagon trains traveling the Oregon Trail. These cattle were moved to range ground and "fattened up" before being herded back to the Oregon trail to be traded or sold.

When gold was discovered in the late nineteenth century, the cattle industry boomed. As more and more gold miners and prospectors poured into Montana, more and more food was needed to feed them. These new hunters quickly depleted Montana's wild game populations and then turned to ranchers for their meat supply.

With a new market for their cattle, ranchers liked Montana for its abundant open land for grazing as well as its high quality grass. The hardy Montana grasses dried standing up and strong winter winds blew snow away so the grass did not flatten, making it edible all winter. As hunters seeking furs decimated the bison herds, open-range ranching grew. The wide tracts of land claimed by the US Government in treaties and by force from Indian tribes made prime grazing country that was newly available to use.