The Silver King Ranch
Prominent miner and state legislator Owen Byrnes filed a homestead claim above Silver King Lake in 1908, adding to this property the purchase of other claims and railroad grant lands. Pristine forests and natural meadows formed the perfect backdrop for Byrnes’ three passions: ranching, mining, and hunting. This masterfully crafted assemblage of rustic log structures also bears the indelible print of Byrnes’ interests. The main residence was constructed circa 1914 of square-notched, peeled logs trimmed with cornerboards, and in 1917, Byrnes brought his new bride, Bessie Mason Garlow, and her six-year-old son, Benton, to this two-story home. The horse barn built for Romeo and Juliet, a breeding pair of Belgian draft horses, reflects the major industry carried on at the ranch. Other signs of the horse-breeding business are the once-cultivated Timothy grasses now growing wild in the meadow and brands burned into the walls of the frame blacksmith shop. A log “hunting camp” foundation and system of pack trails recall Byrnes’ enthusiasm for the outdoors. A small rocker offers evidence of gold prospecting. Owner Robert Lydiard and his late wife, Neva Barber Lydiard, have maintained Byrne’s handiwork since 1963. Today the Silver King Ranch represents the finest of early-twentieth-century Montana ranching traditions and vernacular building techniques.