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Historical Marker near Circle

Major Seth Mabry, a Confederate Army officer, came to the Redwater Valley about 1883, driving a herd of longhorns from Texas. President of the Mabry Cattle Co., he branded with a plain circle iron. From the brand, the operation became known as the Circle Ranch. They sold three to four thousand beeves each fall for about 13 years.

Other cattlemen ran the ranch until about 1900 when Peter Dreyer and Hans Grue bought it and used it as a summer camp for sheep and as a stopover for themselves and other ranchers going to and from Glendive. Two bachelors ostensibly cared for the ranch, but actually they started a saloon there. Since strong drink spoiled the sheepherders’ work habits, Dreyer and Grue offered the place to Dreyer’s brother-in-law, Peter Rorvik, in 1903. During an absence of the saloonkeepers, the Rorviks and their six children moved in. The next summer saw 100,000 sheep on the Redwater River. The herders and ranchers needed a supply source, so Rorvik opened a store on the ranch.

So began the town of Circle about one-half mile southeast of here. In 1907, the surrounding lands were opened to homesteading and the area has been producing grain as well as livestock ever since.

Reprinted from “The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia”

Bigfork Bird Festival

Located on the shores of northwest Montana’s Flathead Lake and surrounded by wilderness, the village of Bigfork is the perfect location for wildlife and bird watching. And this spring, the village will host the first annual Bigfork Bird Festival June 6-8, 2003. The Festival will feature seminars and guest speakers along with a series of guided and self-guided tours to the area’s finest birding spots. Shorter field trips are scheduled to last for two to four hours with longer day trips to Glacier National Park, the National Bison Range and the Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge. For more information on the festival contact the Bigfork Chamber of Commerce at 406-837-5888. Or email them at

A Tale of Two Railroads

Before branchlines of the railroads were built in the northeast part of Montana, supplies were freighted in from the “main line” by team and wagon. A stage route followed the same route as the ancient Wood Mountain Trail for years carrying mail and passengers.

At that time the two railroads—the Soo and the Great Northern—were fierce competitors. When word got out that the Soo planned to build a branch line just south of the Canadian border, the Great Northern hurried up to build one of its own. That competition created two railroad lines only seven miles apart, both within 15 miles of the border. The next closest railroad line was 50 miles to the south.

The railroad had a custom of setting up a siding and depot about every six miles. Towns sprung up at these depots. Look at the distances between the towns of Flaxville, Madoc, Scobey, Four Buttes, Gluten and Peerless.

Reprinted from “The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia”

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