Child Ranch

Helena mining man W. C. Child initiated this ranch about 1885, as the “White Face Farm” stocked with some of the first purebred Herefords in Montana Territory. Then came the infamous “Hard Winter of 1886-87,” when deep snows and months of freezing temperatures followed drought years that had left feed sparse. Open-range cattle herds were decimated. When spring arrived, Child built the massive fieldstone barn, 55 feet tall and 100 square feet on both lower level and loft, along with other stone outbuildings. The barn held stalls for 500 cattle and could store 350 tons of hay; it is Montana’s largest barn. Shortly after its construction came that of the octagonal ranch house, which runs 20 feet on a side. With his permanent residence in Helena, Child used the structure only for meetings and parties; guests arrived via Child’s personal railroad car. The house’s entire second floor was an open ballroom. The Silver Panic of 1893 ruined Child financially, and he died that same year. As the ranch passed from owner to owner, its buildings deteriorated over the years until the Paul Kleffner family began restoration in 1943.

Images

W. C. Child Ranch

W. C. Child Ranch

W. C. Child Ranch, State Highway 279, Helena, Lewis and Clark County, MT Digital ID: hhh mt0014.photos.100605p Call Number: HABS MONT,25-HEL.V,1- | Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington DC | Creator: Historic American Buildings Survey, creator View File Details Page

W.C. Child, portrait

W.C. Child, portrait

Studio portrait of W.C. Child Catalog # 941-710 | Source: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, MT | Creator: Unidentified photographer. View File Details Page

Access Information:

private

Street Address:

305 Highway 518, East Helena, Montana [map]

Cite this Page:

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Child Ranch ,” Explore Big – Montana's Historic Places, accessed June 24, 2017, http://explorebig.org/items/show/674.

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