Some of the first cattle in this valley were brought here by a handful of settlers, including Johnny Grant who began wintering cattle in western Montana valleys in the 1850s. The Deer Lodge Valley was especially good winter range due to the high surrounding mountains that captured most of the snow.
In 1866, Conrad Kohrs purchased the Grant home and 365 head of cattle. He formed a powerful partnership with his younger half-brother John Bielenberg and continued to graze cattle in this valley while expanding to other ranges in eastern Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Canada. During the open range era, it was possible to become wealthy raising cattle without owning any acreage. Most ranchers did own a base of operations at the least and some, like Conrad Kohrs, owned millions of acres.
Conrad Kohrs Warren, Kohrs’ grandson, continued to raise cattle in the Deer Lodge Valley. He also made changes in his own sphere of influence. Warren helped establish state-regulated public livestock auctions, upgraded purebred stock, instigated livestock health programs, made the switch to mechanized farm machinery and helped forge changes in government regulation and support of the industry as well as improvements in livestock sanitary practices.
Did You Know?
Like your fingernails a horse’s hoof keeps growing. If it doesn’t wear down naturally, it is necessary to trim it. If it gets worn down faster than it can grow, it needs an iron shoe to protect it. In trail-driving days, cowboys often left their horses unshod unless they got sore-footed.