The purpose of this section is to give the student access to all primary and secondary resources for Unit 2.5: Livestock and the Open Range - 1850 to 1887.
"As ranges to the south and west filled and were depleted, massive trail herds began interesting Montana's grasslands. The life of a cowboy on these cattle drives was anything but uneventful. From 1866 to the late 1880s, hundreds of cowpunchers signed on for the long drives from Texas to Montana, and some of them stayed. H. J. Rutter, later a Hinsdale rancher, joined one of these last drives as a "cocky youth." Indians, rustlers, lightning storms, and mad dashes to turn the herds were only a few of the trail crew's problems. Yet some of the longest hours were spent on more tedious duties. Long stretches in the saddle, sleepless nights, and a monotonous diet were the norm" (Montana Historical Society).
"After 1887, Montana's livestock industry gradually changed character. Cattle raising returned to more local ownership and reduced herds. Cowboys who once served large companies either departed Montana, changed their life style or ventured out on their own. No longer "riding the line" for $40 a month, those who remained became range managers on their own spreads. Albert Ronne, one such cowhand, started anew at Woody Island creek on recently opened Indian land. A remnant of the open range still remained north of the Milk River and he took advantage of the opportunity. His operation also incorporated techniques that became increasingly accepted by the industry including cutting hay and irrigating land" (Montana Historical Society).