The Bunkhouse - Mason-Lovell Ranch

ML Ranch Bunkhouse
The ML Ranch Bunkhouse

NPS

 
Cowhands seated in front of the west cabin of the ML bunkhouse
Cowhands seated in front of the west cabin of the ML bunkhouse

Courtesy Mrs. Frances Burrell

The Bunkhouse was used as shelter and living quarters for the ranch hands whose responsibility it was to tend the cattle on the open range during dust and snow storms. The middle section was built in about 1883 before Lovell moved the M/L headquarters to this site. After all three cabins were completed the middle cabin housed the cook shack and the mess room.

The east cabin was the ranch hands quarters. The mud and willow fireplace kept them warm as they slept in their bedrolls on the double pole bunks above the dirt floors. The west cabin was Lovell’s office and sleeping quarters complete with a brass bed, roll top desk, a rocking chair with cushions, stove, safe and combination washstand and bureau.

Personal Memories
Edna Strong, who delivered mail to the ML Ranch as a young woman, said that if Mr. Lovell was in good humor, he would call her into his office and say, “sit down there and tell me the news.” If he were busy, he would say, “you run out to the big house to Lettie.”

Lou Howe, who cooked for the ML, bunked in this cabin for a time. He slept on an iron bedstead in the southwest corner, in another corner was a pot bellied heating stove. Howe kept his clothes in apple boxes fixed up as a bureau. Along the walls were green cottonwood hewn shelves that stored staples used for preparing meals.

There was a distinct difference between Lovell, Howe’s, and the ranch hands living quarters. While Lovell lived in relative luxury and Howe enjoyed at least a few perks, the bunkhouse area for the ranch hands was stark and bone chilling during the long winters.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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PO Box 7458

Fort Smith, MT 59035

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