Elevation: 3,763 ft
The historic Bozeman Trail of the mid-1860s passed through present-day Big Horn. Scouted by John Bozeman through eastern Wyoming to the rich gold fields of Montana, the trail was the scene of many battles between those attempting to secure and use the trail and the Indians who relied upon the rich hunting grounds in the area. Those skirmishes earned the trail the nickname “The Bloody Bozeman”. The U.S. Cavalry forbade parties of fewer than 100 wagons to take the trail through Big Horn; nevertheless, the many battles and territorial fighting culminated at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, 70 miles north of Sheridan.
In 1881 Big Horn was founded; the area had caught the eye of well-to-do cattle and sheep ranchers who established operations along the base of the Bighorn Mountains. These included the sheep-breeding Moncreiffe brothers (from Clan Moncreiffe of the Scottish Highlands), Oliver Wallop (a member of the English Nobility), Goelet Gallatin (a descendant of Albert Gallatin US Treasury Secretary under Thomas Jefferson), and Bradford Brinton (a businessman from Chicago). These residents of higher means were a minority among other residents who were owners or tenants on small ranches and farms. Ernest Hemingway was no stranger to Big Horn; he stayed at Folly Ranch and Spear-O-Wigwam during the summer of 1928. (He also stayed at the Historic Sheridan Inn in Sheridan.) During his time here, Hemingway fished, hunted, and finished his masterpiece, A Farewell to Arms.
Big Horn Today
In the summer the community attracts polo players from around the world who enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of Big Horn Polo and the Flying H Polo Club. Every May, the Big Horn Equestrian Center is host to the Bighorn Mountain Cup, a soccer tournament for dozens of traveling teams. During the tournament three polo fields are converted into 18 regulation-size soccer fields. The Big Horn Equestrian Center also hosts a Winter Ball, various sporting events and Don King Days.
A great day in Big Horn would include a visit to the Bozeman Museum, the Brinton Museum, lunch at the Big Horn Mercantile or the Just LeDoux It Saloon and Steak Out and a nightcap at the Last Chance Bar. Big Horn also provides access to Red Grade Road, a steep dirt track that opens access to the Bighorn Mountains and the Cloud Peak Wilderness.
Though Big Horn is an unincorporated community, it has several civic organizations including the volunteer fire department, a non-denominational church, Women’s Club, Lion’s Club, and the Big Horn City Historical Society which boasts over 400 members nationwide.
If you have any questions about the town of Big Horn please contact: Judy Slack, Big Horn City Historical Society (307) 674-6363.