Near Big Timber in Sweet Grass County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
The Ca(title obscured) 1866
(The First Cattle-drive on the Bozeman Trail)
— The Mysterious Death of John Bozeman —
The Montana mining camps provided a lucrative market for those who "mined the miners." Although bison and local game was plentiful, the miners had a taste for beef and there were men willing to provide it to them. One of those, Nelson Story, had panned enough gold in the placer mines to invest in other economic pursuits, including provisioning the mining camps. In 1866, he purchased rangy Texas longhorns with the intent of driving them to Montana to sell in Virginia City. He and his hired hands left Fort Worth in the spring and began the long journey north.
On the way, they evaded toll collectors, outfoxed rustlers, and swam the cattle across flood-swollen streams - then the trouble really started. Story resolved to drive his cattle up the Bozeman Trail in central Wyoming. In 1866 the trail was hotly contested as the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne Indians defended their hunting grounds from the hundreds of emigrants heading
Near the first post, Fort Reno, the Indians ran off many of Story's cattle. Not to be intimidated, Story and his men followed the Indians into the badlands and retrieved the animals after a short skirmish that left two of his cowboys wounded. When they neared Fort Phil Kearney, the post commander, Henry Carrington, made them camp three miles from the post. He didm't want the cattle to eat all the grass adjacent to the fort. Story cooled his heels for two weeks, waiting for Carrington's permission to push on. Eventually, he decided to go without the officer's consent.
Traveling by night and corralling the cattle during the day, the crew largely managed to avoid trouble with the Indians. When they reached the third post, Fort C.F. Smith, in Montana, the danger had passed. But they remained vigilant as they pushed up the Yellowstone Valley to near present Livingston, where Story established a cattle camp. Not only did Story successfully run a dangerous gauntlet to Virginia City, he also was the first to make the long cattle drive from Texas to Montana. In the process, he pioneered the famed Texas Trail and established the foundation of Montana's
The Mysterious Death of John Bozeman
About thirty miles west of here on April 18, 1867, Blackfeet Indians allegedly shot and killed John Bozeman, the blazer of the Bozeman Trail and a founder of the city named for him. But is that what really happened?
Bozeman and Tom Cover hoped to secure four contracts with the military at Bozeman Trail forts. While stopped near the mouth of Mission Creek, several Indians approached the men's camp. Thinking they were Crow Indians, Bozeman waved them in. Too late did he realize they were Blackfeet, who opened fire killing Bozeman and wounding Cover. He returned fire, killing one of the Indians. The Blackfeet fled with the pair's horses. Cover made his way back up the Yellowstone River finding refuge in Nelson Story's cattle camp.
Cover's account of the incident widely varied and rumors persisted that he had shot Bozeman. Evidence at the site suggested there were no Indians. Strikingly handsome, Bozeman was a noted Beau Brummel with a reputation as a ladies' man. Could Bozeman have dallied with Clover's wife? The answer will never be known, so, the official story stands.
Erected by Montana Department of Transportation.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Agriculture • Notable Events • Roads & Vehicles. A significant historical date for this entry is April 18, 1867.
Location. 45° 44.145′ N, 109° 45.378′ W. Marker is near Big Timber, Montana, in Sweet Grass County. Marker can be reached from Interstate 90 at milepost 377, on the right when traveling west. The marker is located at the westbound Greycliff Rest Area. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Big Timber MT 59011, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 12 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Montana's Jurassic Park (here, next to this marker); The Crazy Mountains (original title obscured) (within shouting distance of this marker); The Crazy Mountains (within shouting distance of this marker); Captain Wm. Clark (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Montana's Jurassic Park (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Bozeman Trail (about 700 feet away); The Thomas Party (approx. 2 miles away); St. Mark's Episcopal Church (approx. 11.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Big Timber.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 25, 2022. It was originally submitted on January 25, 2022, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 110 times since then and 9 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on January 25, 2022, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.