By 1920 more Americans lived in industrial cities than in rural places, leading to a growing romanticism about the natural world. At the same time, films and dime novels fed fascination with the Old West. These factors combined to fuel a new…

The number of motels in Billings grew rapidly as the national economy boomed after World War II. Millions of Americans took to the road on vacations and for business trips, creating a tremendous need for roadside accommodations. Among all the motels…

With an entourage of four covered wagons and over thirteen-hundred head of burros, horses, and Angora goats, Stanton Brannin and his large family began a hazardous journey from New Mexico to Montana. Two years later in 1897, the Brannins filed a…

James Norris (Dick) Randall, “The Man who put the ‘Dude’ in Dude Ranching,” worked as a cowboy before heading to Yellowstone National Park in 1888. There, as a stagecoach driver for tourists, he soon recognized the business potential of outfitting…

Pioneer George S. Watkins arrived in Montana in 1864. The "cattle king of Madison County" ultimately acquired thousands of acres, including much of the Madison basin. Here he built a summer cow camp with two large cabins, a barn, and a…

Breathtaking scenery forms the backdrop for this majestic mountain lodge, built by Indianapolis businessman Arthur L. McKinney on the site of a great Sioux-Nez Perce battle. In 1934, McKinney purchased this land with the intent to build a summer…

Eastern clients visited dude ranches for authentically western experiences in complete comfort or, as one rancher put it, “home-made bedsteads but forty-pound mattresses.” The B Bar K was no exception. Wealthy Chicagoan J. Fred Butler bought the…

As a teenager, Alfred Croonquist guided fishing trips and dreamed of a place where eastern visitors could enjoy Montana’s bounty. In 1919, the first building on the banks of the West Fork of Rock Creek was completed. Camp Senia, named for Alfred’s…