Judith Landing Historic District

Judith Landing Historic District

Few Montana places encompass as much varied history as Judith Landing. For millennia, Native peoples used this wide landing spot as a seasonal campground and burial site. Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark camped nearby in May 1805, naming the Judith River after Clark’s future wife. Fur traders and naturalists also used the landing. Nearby, in 1855, paleontologist Ferdinand Hayden collected the first skeletal dinosaur remains officially documented in North America. Important tribal peace councils brought numerous Indigenous people to Council Island in September 1846 and October 1855. The first council forged peace between the Blackfeet and several western tribes. The second, called Lame Bull’s treaty, established boundaries for a communal hunting ground and paved the way for non-Indian settlement. In 1866, the U.S. Army built Camp Cooke west of the Judith River to protect steamboats. Soon, merchant Thomas C. Power set up a commissary and trading post nearby to supply the camp. After Camp Cooke closed in 1870, Power and his partner, James Wells, bought the camp and renamed it Fort Clagett. Circa 1880, Wells moved Fort Clagett here, just east of the Judith, drove the ranch's founding cattle up from Texas, established a post office, and built a stone warehouse and store. As ranching flourished in the area, Gilman R. Norris took charge in 1883 and with Power started the Judith Mercantile and Cattle Co., also known as the PN Ranch. Norris’s elegant 1901 ranch house still reflects the high status of the PN and brings attention to this multi-faceted historic landscape.

Images

Map

PN Ranch Road at Missouri River, near Winifred, MT ~ public