http-equiv='refresh'/> Tin TeePee/Log Cabin: Homesteaders

Friday, September 19, 2014


UPDATE: We weren’t lost, I posted a blog Monday on Live Writer to be published Monday night telling you readers our plans—well, I certainly must not have hit the correct “publish” button! So, here is one of the two blogs I’m posting tonight to tell you about our wonderful little mini vacation!


On Wednesday we decided to try the Missouri Breaks Historical Homesteads Auto Tour—Michael found a brochure online but couldn’t find a map.  As I said before, this is big, rugged country—if you get lost don’t think someone is going to come find you and there is no cell service to call for help.  Yesterday afternoon we stopped at the BLM office and they had a map—they also had some information about road conditions.  He warned us about a couple spots we might want to avoid and told us to have fun.  The campground host who took our campsite fee this morning also knew where we were going.

IMG_1980The campground is located in the trees to the left of the river and bridge.


Off we went in the jeep—bouncing, bucking and swerving across the ridges and valleys of the wild and scenic Missouri Breaks.  The Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909 greatly accelerated the settlement of Montana expanding the original amount of land permitted by the Homestead Act of 1862 from 160 acres to 320 acres.  Proving up time was reduced from five years to three years and homesteaders were allowed to be gone from their claims six months per year.

In the years after 1909 rainfall was plentiful with good crops.  World World I sent many of the men off to serve their country—some never to return to their homesteads.  Then the year of 1919 was the driest of record following by a long, hard winter.  This marked the beginning of the drought, bank failures and the declining economy.  Many of the homesteaders starved out and left, some departing so quickly dishes were left on the table. 

The first homestead we came to belonged to two men, one of them with Big Timber, MT ties—John Mauland.  They were successful ranchers first with sheep then cattle.  Many of the ranch buildings are still standing and if the mosquitoes hadn’t been buzzing so loud, I bet we could have heard the two men talking!  This homestead was near the river and I had to retreat to the jeep—the mosquitoes were about to drive me crazy!


IMG_2002This was the nicest and newest log home built along the river before the Army Corps of Engineers bought out the river places for the Fort Peck Dam Project. 

IMG_2007We visited several more homestead sites before deciding to find our way back home.  IMG_2010One of the homesteading women, Elma Petersen Webb became pregnant with her first and only child at the age of 44.  She decided to go back to Chicago where she was originally from to have the child.  This required her to ride a stage to Roy, MT, board the train to Lewistown then on to Harlowton where she continued on the main line to Chicago.  This woman lived on a homestead where at times water had to be hauled from 10 miles away!!!  No electricity, no refrigeration, no washing machine!  I think I’m glad I was born in this century!!

Here is one of the spots the BLM guy warned us about:

IMG_2011It wasn’t so bad here, in fact we drove through this one but just up the road out of site of this photo was a bog and we turned around.  The rains this country received in August really damaged the roads and bridges.  The almost dry August creeks became raging rivers leaving destruction behind. 

So, that was our Wednesday in Missouri Breaks country—we may go out to look at the elk again in the evening. 

Thursday we left our spot beside the Big Muddy and headed north again to what is referred to in Montana as the Hi-Line.  We stopped in Malta and toured the Dinosaur Museum, stopped in Havre and tried to visit LoraLee’s brother and sister-in-law in their western store, Norman’s, but they weren’t there.  We ended up in Neihart for the night at our friends Nancy and Royal’s.  Today Royal and the cowboy took a road trip to look at some property Royal and Nancy purchased.  I took the opportunity to drive back to Great Falls—50 miles—and get in some snuggles with that sweet baby, Lora Elizabeth.  Laci treated me to lunch and I had a wonderful visit. 

Lora Elizabeth newbornLora Elizabeth newborn2Laci and John had a photographer come into their home to take newborn photos.  Laci posted the album on Facebook today and I swiped a couple—isn’t she adorable!

Tonight we are home, back in the world of being connected—life is good!


  1. She really is adorable and much cuter than those stupid mosquitoes.

  2. I don't think I could have been a homesteader. We are doing the Beartooth today, and then heading out in the morning. Guess our paths will have to cross again some other time. :(

  3. Oh my, what a cutie pie! Those homes were sure built stout - most of those walls still look very solid.


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