Scottish-born homesteader Thomas Murray came to the Judith Basin in 1883 and settled on 160 acres running cattle and sheep on the open prairie. By the turn of the twentieth century, the Thomas Murray Ranch, known in its heyday as the Meadow Brook Stock Farm, had diversified to include wheat farming and cattle, hog, sheep, and horse breeding. This early twentieth-century transition from ranching to farming in central Montana reflected both the hard lessons learned by Montana ranchers during the devastating winter of 1886-87 and the coming of the railroads in 1906 and 1908. The railroads promised better transportation to agricultural markets and sparked the growth of new communities, such as Hobson, along with a desire for more substantial dwellings. Murray and his future relatives, the Lilligard brothers, built this splendid Neo-classical Revival style residence circa 1908. Murray’s skillful use of cast stone introduced Hobson to this popular technique. Other structures, including the sheep barn and three-story gambrel-roofed horse barn, were built between 1892 and 1917. After decades of farming and ranching, however, Murray fell victim to drought and horrendous grasshopper and army worm infestations. He and his wife, Mildred, left the ranch in 1924. Today the property retains its original appearance, an excellent example of an early Montana farming enterprise.

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U.S. Highway 87, Hobson, Montana ~ private