A stormy crossing from Germany to Baltimore, a three-day quarantine, and a long train trip west finally brought John Spannring, his wife Mary, and their four children to Montana in 1910. A fifth child was born a month after the family’s arrival in…

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…

Gold brought the first white population to Montana, but by the 1870s it was the abundant grasslands that brought settlers to the eastern plains. Brothers Waborn and Al Harrison drove some of the first cattle and horses to this area in 1877 and filed…

The settlement of Big Timber coincided with the advent of the Northern Pacific Railroad, which steamed into the Yellowstone Valley in 1882, spurring settlement along the line. In 1884, Rev. Alfred Brown, an Episcopal minister from Livingston, held…

When the Northern Pacific Railroad established a depot in Big Timber in 1883, the small frontier town fast became a business and shipping center, drawing trade from great distances. Construction of this fine hotel in 1890 well illustrates the impact…

As civic reforms swept the nation at the dawn of the twentieth century, Big Timber’s Citizens’ Progressive Party followed national enthusiasm by electing Progressive officials when the city incorporated in 1902. Then on March 13, 1908, a spark from…

An alternative to saloons and pool halls, the Big Timber Library stayed open evenings in 1914, with the hope of “not only … educating [people] … in the right way, but keeping them from falling by the wayside, as so many do in these western towns.”…