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History Of The Sleeping Buffalo

In 1922, a wildcatter, exploring for oil, encountered a tremendous flow of hot mineral water at 3,200 feet, and went broke trying to cap the flow. Legend has it that cowboys made use of the hot water for their Saturday night baths. A Saco rancher built a wooden tub around the water and soaked his polio-stricken son in the mineral water which is very similar to that of the Warm Spring, Georgia sanatorium made famous by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

In the early 30s a joint partnership between the Soil Conservation Service and the Phillips County American Legion developed the complex with the help of Roosevelts Work Project Administration (WPA). Several permanent buildings of rock were erected, and the Saco Health Plunge became a prominent recreational facility.

Following a stoppage the previous year, a new well was drilled in 1958, and over 2500 visitors attended the grand opening of the Malta Legion Health Plunge. By now, everyone just called this favorite swimming place The Plunge. The following year, the disastrous West Yellowstone earthquake broke the well casing and another well had to be drilled.

In 1965, and named in honor of a particular rock resembling a buffalo which signifies the staff of life for several Native American tribes, including the Chippewa, Cree, Assiniboine and Sioux. This rock, which originally was part of a group of rocks that looked like a herd of buffalo from a distance, laid upon a ridge above Cree Crossing just a couple miles north of the resort. It was moved to the town of Malta, and later still to old U.S. Highway #2 south of the resort, where it was joined with the Medicine Rock. Today these ancient glacial boulders, which are listed on the National Record of Historic Places, are enshrined at the junction of Highway 2 and State Highway 243, and mark the entrance to the resort which is a short distance up the hill on the right. Nelson Reservoir and the Bureau of Reclamation Park on the left.

Excerpted from "The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia".

On This Date in Montana: December 3, 1866

Nelson Story arrives in the Gallatin Valley (Bozeman area) with 3,000 longhorns. Not only did he fight his way through thousands of hostile Indians, but he also had to outwit the U.S. Army who wanted to turn back the expedition for its own safety. Story and his two dozen cowboys had to sneak the cattle past the Indians in the dark. Colonel Carrington offered to buy the cattle to provide beef for the soldiers at Fort Phil Kearney. Story declined. The cattle that he brought into the Gallatin Valley formed the nucleus for Montana's cattle industry.

Excerpted from "The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia".

Copyright © 2003 Michael Dougherty. Use of this material for radio and television programs, printed media, webcasting, and any other source of mass dissemination is prohibited without permission of the publisher.

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