Gehring Ranch Historic District

Born in Germany and raised on a farm in Indiana, Bartholomew Gehring left home in 1862 at the start of the Civil War. By 1865, he had arrived in the Helena area, where he began raising cattle to supply the area’s booming mining camps. Acco¬rding to family stories, neighboring farmer David Auchard summoned his sister Jane west from New York state, in part to meet Bartholomew. In 1871, Jane and Bartholomew married and together they homesteaded here, developing a successful, mixed farming operation along the Helena–Fort Benton Road. To attract customers, the Gehrings placed a trough by the road, where passersby could water their stock while purchasing chickens, dairy products, berries, apples, potatoes, and other garden produce. The Gehrings also raised cattle, horses, and oxen. Twenty-two structures trace the ranch’s growth over four generations. Several of the ranch’s earliest log buildings remain intact, including a stable, blacksmith shop, and granary, all built before 1878. Bartholomew and Jane’s son David mechanized and expanded the operation. In the 1910s he expanded many older buildings and added two hog barns, a second granary, and an engine house, used to work on the farm’s tractors. The iconic red, gambrel-roofed barn dates to 1930 while a milk house was built in 1933, reflecting the growing dairy operation. Perhaps the family home best illustrates the ranch’s development. Beneath the house’s shiplap siding are two 1870s-era log cabins; the large two-story gable rear section was added in 1928. The residence remains home to the fourth generation of Gehrings to make their living from the land.

Gehring Barn

Residents in the North Helena Valley thought the early morning smoke rising near Silver Creek on September 8, 1928, was a wildfire. They soon learned that David Gehring’s barn was burning. The fire destroyed the barn and, to add insult to injury,…

Root Cellar/Hen House

Not long after Bartholomew Gehring built his stable, house, and hen house in the late 1860s, he built a substantial stone and log root cellar to augment the cellar beneath his home. Measuring five hundred square feet, the sunken stone walls and…

Bunkhouse

Family accounts associate the bunkhouse with the original Auchard homestead north of the Gehring Ranch. The log skids on which it rests indicate that the building was mobile and a team of draft horses could have dragged it from the Auchard’s.…

Outhouse

Not all outhouses deserve interpretive signs, but the Gehring outhouse is an important local reminder of the U.S. government’s efforts in the 1930s to improve sanitation and public health in rural areas. Part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s…

Hog Shed

Although the Gehring Ranch is known today as a cattle and bison operation, David Gehring introduced commercial hog production to the ranch in 1910, beginning a long partnership with the Montana Meat Co. in Helena. In his journal on May 27, 1910,…

Stable and Granary

Establishing a ranch in 1860s Montana required many hands. Help from relatives and friends and the able assistance of horses meant survival. This stable and the house are among the first buildings Bartholomew Gehring built. His brother, Frank, who…

Ranch House

The Gehring house reflects the ranch’s growth from a pioneer log cabin to a modern twentieth-century family home. Bartholomew Gehring camped out under his wagon while building the first wing of this ranch house in 1865. In November 1871, he married…

Shop

Successful farmers and ranchers need to know their crops, animals, and the markets, but they also must be mechanically inclined, resourceful, and self-reliant. This was especially true in the Gehring Ranch’s early days when a trip to the hardware…