Wibaux

At the eastern edge of the state, Wibaux is known as the "Gateway to Montana." The tiny farming and ranching community has a rich history dating back to the 1880s when a Frenchman named Pierre Wibaux moved to the area and began cattle ranching.

Wibaux’s family was in the textile business, but the young Pierre didn’t want to join the family business, so at age 27 he moved to America and made his way to eastern Montana. Wibaux knew nothing about cattle ranching when he established the W-Bar Ranch along Beaver Creek 12 miles north of town. He eventually became one of the largest cattleman in the state, with a herd that reportedly numbered over 70,000 that grazed in both Montana and North Dakota. Just over the border, Wibaux’s friend Teddy Roosevelt was ranching in the badlands of North Dakota.

During the hard winter of 1890, Wibaux bought up cattle at bargain prices when many of his fellow stockmen had to sell out. A shrewd businessman, Wibaux is still remembered for his humor, good nature and fairness.

The town was originally called Mingusville and was one of the largest cattle shipping points on the Northern Pacific Railroad. Both the town and the county were named after Wibaux and some reports say that Wibaux himself carried petitions to get the name changed. The post office was established there in 1895.

A brochure outlining the walking tour through Wibaux is available at the museum. On the tour, you’ll pass by the historic St. Peter’s Catholic Church, built in 1985 with funds donated by Wibaux. The original frame structure has been covered with beautiful, native lava rock.

Wibaux also has a new state visitor’s center located along Interstate 94 at Exit 242. The information center and rest area were built in 1998 to greet travelers entering Montana from the east.

Outside of town, the land is a mix of badlands and gently rolling hills. The area is great for hunting, hiking, and photography, and Beaver Creek is known to produce some lunker walleye, northern pike and catfish.

 

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