By the time Henry Clay Lovell came to the Bighorn Basin in 1880, he sported 3 bullet wounds and a knife wound.
North to the Bighorn
In 1882, Lovell brought in 12,000 head of cattle from Oregon, doubling the M-L herd to 25,000. This herd ranged from Thermopolis, Wyoming to the Crow Indian Reservation, literally across hundreds of miles of basin and canyon country. A second ranch was established to accommodate this influx.
Exposure and Starvation
Yet the ferocious winter of 1886-87 sent Lovell and Mason reeling. Blizzards in both fall and spring, with sub-zero temperatures throughout much of the winter caused cattle to die by the thousands. Lovell estimated that half his herd was lost to exposure and starvation.
While many ranchers forced into bankruptcy gave up the open range, Lovell set about rebuilding his herd. Purchasing high-grade Hereford bulls and heifers, Lovell increased the quality of his herds, which in turn led to an increase in numbers. The M-L ranch rose to success once again.
Selling off “The Big Outfit”
Yet another successful stock raising campaign was now underway. Lovell finally gave up the cattle business a few years later. He lived out his last days in Portland, Oregon, where he died in 1903.
Today Lovell’s legacy is best remembered by the town which took his name. Lovell, Wyoming is named in honor of this pioneer cattleman.
Did You Know?
Prior to the completion of Yellowtail Dam, the Bighorn River was a muddy, warm water prairie stream. The dam transformed the river into a cold, clear tailwater ideally suited to rainbow and brown trout, and aquatic insects. The Bighorn River now draws visitors and anglers from around the globe. More...