Johnny Grant was a metis (French Canadian Indian). Eventually he ends up in Montana Territory and he realizes that you are either a Trader or a Trapper. He goes for Trader and marries several conveninet (understand Chief’s daughters) wives, actually eight of them (32 or 26 children, depending on who tells you the story) and does a lot of trading with the Indians. When South Western Montana becomes too crowded for him (1866) he sells out to a Conrad Cohrs, Dutch emigrant.
Cohrs creates a cattle empire in Montana but by the time all holdings pass in the hands of the third generation, things, as usual, start going South… The Ranch becomes property of the National Park Service in 1986 and the Park Service now operates it as a “working ranch”, or so the brochures tell you.
If you are interested in history, you should visit. But don’t get your hopes too high: we were told that there were 300 heads of cattle but only saw some horses in a near-by field. The tour of the house is interesting, it gives an idea of how luxuriously wealthy cattle barons lived in those times, but photography is not allowed anywhere with the lousy explanation that “people don’t know how to shut off their flash”… The tour takes about 45 minutes. You can walk on your own on the property outside the house, there are several historical photographs and a time line in a barn. The “cowboys” were all overweight rangers and one of them, seeing me take pictures of him and his horse, hurries to give me a business card with California address…
But then, you get what you paid for: nothing. Yep, that’s right, it’s all free, including the coffee you get at the chuck wagon.
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