The Bozeman Trail began as a gold rush trail, a short cut connecting the gold rush territory of Montana to the Oregon Trail. This route was wide enough to accommodate wagons and more direct than any previous trail into Montana. However, the trail passed directly through territory occupied by the Shoshone, Arapaho and Lakota nations, leading to the military occupation of the region and ultimately resulted in the Indian wars on the Northern Plains. Today, Interstate 25, running from Douglas, Wyoming to Buffalo, Wyoming and Interstate 90 from Sheridan, Wyoming to Three Forks, Montana cover roughly the same general route as the historic Bozeman Trail.
Traces of the Bozeman Trail still remain to this day; one such example is a well-preserved Blacksmith Shop built by the Rock Creek Stage Line in 1879. Located in present day Big Horn Wyoming, the Blacksmith Shop is now home to the Bozeman Trail Museum.
The Bozeman Trail Museum collection includes Indian artifacts, dentistry tools, photos of our area, pioneer clothing, books, blacksmith tools, and many other artifacts from pioneer families.
The Museum is open 11 – 4pm, Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day (June, July and August) or by appointment, by calling (307)751-4908.
Our pioneer families include:
- O.P. Hanna: who built the first log cabin in Sheridan County
- ‘Bear’ Davis: who earned his name by killing 159 bear
- Wm. & Malcolm Moncreiffe: Scottish immigrants who raised thousands of horses for the British Cavalry in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s
- Oliver H. Wallop: who also raised horses for the British Cavalry and later became the Earl of Portsmouth in 1925
- Jack Dow: who was a land surveyor and platted most of the roads, ditches and towns in northern Wyoming
- Wm. Jackson: who was appointed first supervisor of the Big Horn National Forest
- Charles Bard: whose family knew most of the main players in the Johnson County Cattle War
- Jerome Brown: who was a Johnson county commissioner during the Cattle War
- John H. Sackett & Charles Skinner: who built the Big Horn Mercantile building which is still in operation today
- J. O. Willits: who raised horses and became a farmer and rancher. He also built a reservoir in the mountains in 1913.