The Bonanza or Bozeman Trail


Big Timber 59011,Livingston Area

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Location: Big Timber

In the early 1860s, there wasn’t a ranch in this country from Bismarck to Bozeman and from the Platte River to Canada. To whites it was land considered “fit only to raise Indians” and while some of them were hoping for a crop failure, the majority were indifferent. They didn’t care how much the tribes fought amongst themselves. They were like the old-timer whose wife was battling a grizzly bear. He said he never had seen a fight where he took so little interest in the outcome.

Then the white man’s greed asserted itself and he looked for a shortcut from the Oregon Trail at Laramie, Wyoming, to the gold diggin’s of western Montana. The Bonanza or Bozeman Trail across Indian hunting grounds was the result. It forded the Yellowstone near here, coming from the southeast. It was a trail soaked with the blood of warriors, soldiers, and immigrants. Thousands of Sioux warriors, primarily under Red Cloud, bolstered by hundreds of Cheyennes and some Arapahos, fought the trail for six years and forced its closure by the Government in 1868.


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