Plentywood Gulches Montana

The Big Muddy

The extreme northeast corner of Montana is now a quiet area of ranches and farms and few people. It wasn’t always that way. In fact, this whole area, particularly the badlands of Big Muddy Creek, was at one time one of the wildest and most colorful areas of the American West. The three counties of Daniels, Sheridan, and Valley were once one big county (Valley). A stock inspector noted in his files that “Valley County is the most lawless and most crooked country in the union and the Big Muddy is the worst of it.” Over time there were Indians, horse and cattle thieves, outlaws, bootleggers, homesteaders, baseball rivalries, newspaper wars, political battles, communists, and car thieves.

Near present-day Plentywood, Sitting Bull and his Sioux followers surrendered to the US Army. The Outlaw trail crossed into Canada just north of Plentywood carrying along with it a large number of stolen cattle and horses across the border. The trail was named by none other than the infamous Butch Cassidy who actually established a rest station west of Plentywood in the Big Muddy Valley. At the turn of the century, the gulches surrounding Plentywood harbored every species of outlaws. This was, in fact, “The Old West” of legend.

After 1910, homesteaders brought civilization with them and the area began to settle down.