“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Jackson in Beaverhead County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)

"Hot Spring Valley"

Land of 10,000 Haystacks

"Hot Spring Valley" Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, May 12, 2018
1. "Hot Spring Valley" Marker
Captions: (background) To cut hay, horses once pulled the sickles that today are mounted on mechanical swathers. After curing in the sun for a few days, the hay is ready for stacking or baling, which helps limit its exposure to weather so that the food value of the dried vegetation can endure for months and even years.; (bottom left) You stand next to a 'beaver slide,' a Big Hole Valley invention that is still used across Montana and in other western states. These contraptions made it possible for ranchers to create giant haystacks much faster than previous methods. Local rancher Dade Stephens and his brother-in-law, Herb Armitage, are credited with developing the first one, patented in 1910. Many ranchers now find mechanized baling to be easiest, but giant stacks maximize long-term preservation of the nutritional value of grasses.
Inscription.  In 1806, Captain William Clark and his crew traveled through here on horseback moving quickly on their return trip to St. Louis. Arriving at present day Jackson Hot Springs in the afternoon of July 7th, they stopped to experiment with cooking in the water that Clark later wrote "bubbers with heat." That night, camped less than a mile east of where you stand now, Clark noted in his journal that "this butifull extensive valley" is "extreemly fertile" - and he called it "the hot spring Vally." French trappers referred to it as the "Big Hole," their term for a large mountain-surrounded valley - and the name stuck.
Ranching first began in this area in the mid-1800s, in support of wagon trains on the Oregon Trail. For years thereafter, ranchers who lived elsewhere turned their cattle loose to graze these lands - and when the first person intending to live here arrived he found some 27,000 cattle already feeding in the Big Hole Valley. Ranchers learned that the natural rangelands here offered superb nutrition for cattle - grass-fed animals from this valley fetched the same high prices in midwestern markets as did
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grain-fattened cattle from other parts of the county. The Big Hole earned the nickname "Land of 10,000 Hay Stacks" because of the superiority of is native grasses - and because here, where the 'beaver slide' was first developed as a method of stacking hay, heaps of it looked like giant loaves of bread became a year-round sight.
Erected by Montana State University (Bozeman), Bureau of Land Management, Montana Stockgrowers Association.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AgricultureExploration. In addition, it is included in the Lewis & Clark Expedition series list. A significant historical date for this entry is July 7, 1806.
Location. 45° 19.8′ N, 113° 14.682′ W. Marker is in Jackson, Montana, in Beaverhead County. Marker can be reached from State Highway 278 near Bull Creek Road, on the right when traveling south. The marker is located at the overlook at the end of a short path, southwest of Idaho State Highway 278. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Jackson MT 59736, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A Soul-Searching Birthday (here, next to this marker); "The Carroll Ranch" (here, next to this marker); Naturally Sustained Productivity (a few steps from this
"Hot Spring Valley" Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, May 12, 2018
2. "Hot Spring Valley" Marker
marker); Undaunted Stewardship (within shouting distance of this marker); Welcome to Hamilton Ranch (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); "I now take my leave..." (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Way It Used To Be... Way Back (approx. 6.8 miles away).
"Beaver Slide" hay stacker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, May 12, 2018
3. "Beaver Slide" hay stacker
Credits. This page was last revised on October 4, 2018. It was originally submitted on October 4, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 264 times since then and 37 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 4, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.

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Oct. 3, 2023