Powell "Pike" Landusky

Powell "Pike" Landusky

Pike Landusky had a reputation as being one of the toughest fighters in the West. At one point, while trapping and trading with the Indians on the Musselshell River, he was captured by a war party of Brules. He began beating one of the warrior braves with a frying pan. The remaining party, awed by the violent spectacle, retreated and left two ponies to calm the wild man down. He later ran a trading post he called Lucky Fort on Flatwillow Creek in what is now Petroleum County. There, after a Piegan brave shot him and shattered his jaw, Landusky tore out the loose fragments of four broken teeth and threw them away.

In 1893 he and his partner, Bob Orman, found gold in the gulches of the Little Rockies and named their mine after the month. Believing they were on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation they initially snuck the gold ore out at night. When they discovered they were a few miles south of the reservation, they relaxed their guard and word leaked out of the discovery. In a matter of months, a gold rush was on and hundreds of miners flooded the area. A town was born.

Landusky’s luck finally ran out when he had a showdown with “Kid” Curry. The Curry brothers lived five miles to the south and used Landusky as a trading center. “Kid Amby” Cheney, a local cowboy who witnessed the event tells the story:

“Pike was known as a mean devil. He always carried a gold headed, weighted cane and he used it often, sometimes hitting a bystander at the bar whether he was making trouble or not. Pike owned the Landusky Saloon and he had a business rival just across the street named ‘Jew Jake,’ a one-legged guy who had lost the other one in a shooting scrape in Great Falls. Jew Jake used his rifle as a crutch when he walked and kept it slung around his neck when he sat down. He used to sit out on the porch of his saloon waiting for some trouble with Pike. One day Kid Curry and Pike got into an argument: some say it was over a woman, others that it was over a plow that the Currys had borrowed from Pike and returned badly broken. The Kid was standing at the bar in Pike’s saloon when the argument, began. Pike reached for his gun, but Curry was quicker on the draw and killed Landusky with the first shot. Curry escaped and by the time the sheriff had come from Fort Benton (200 miles away) the smoke had cleared away and the officer told the boys in Landusky that if they ever happened to see the Kid to tell him to come on in and give himself up. They wouldn’t do much to him because of Pike’s quarrelsome reputation. After Landusky’s death, John Curry, one of the Kid’s brothers, sort of throwed-in with Mrs. Landusky.”

When Pike died, it is said that the townspeople buried him six feet deeper than usual and piled rocks on top of his grave so he couldn’t get out. The rock is still there along with a carved wood grave marker.

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