Sweeping views of the Spanish Peaks, the Madison Range, and the Gallatin Canyon provided a magnificent setting for Augustus Frank Crail to locate his ranching headquarters. Crail carved out a 960-acre ranch purchasing three homesteads, school lands, and railroad property in 1902. He, his wife Sally, and their three children all contributed to the family business. They settled in the small log cabin while they built the main house, establishing a water-powered sawmill nearby where they milled lumber for private and commercial use. Crail grew a special kind of wheat he developed and raised sheep. By 1934, the Crails’ success allowed them to close the sawmill and switch to raising cattle. Most area ranchers who weathered the Great Depression turned to dude ranching, but the Crails continued to run their working ranch until 1950. For fifty years, the ranch structures were the only evidence of human habitation in this meadow valley. Today, the house and cabin are the sole survivors of the once-sprawling complex. The older log cabin has a unique roof of rough sawn lumber three layers deep. The sturdy main residence, built with care and skill circa 1905, is of hand-hewn logs chinked with mortar. The marks of the ax used to flatten the dove-tailed logs are plainly visible. The two dwellings, now nestled among modern residences, are a rare monument to early homesteading and a poignant reminder of this bygone era in the Gallatin Valley.

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2110 Spotted Elk Road, Big Sky, Montana ~ private