Weather & Fire
Dudley's Notes  
Township 2 North, Range 11 East
of the P. M. M., Park County, Montana, Section 15
Dudley Seymour Gilbert wrote the following in his memoirs describing how he acquired Section 15.
About May 1, 1901, I announced my decision to leave my ranch job for a further look around. An acquaintance working in a local hardware store directed my attention to the Northern Pacific Land Grant which was being put on the open market just then at what seemed ridiculously low prices. He recommended a 640 acre tract lying adjacent to some of his own holdings and after investigating the price and terms, I made the required one tenth down payment of the purchase price and securing a saddle horse, rode out to look over my purchase.
It lay along the approach to the Crazy Mountains near her southwestern end and embraced a sloping area crossed by two small creeks flowing west to Shields River some 14 miles distant. It was bordered by a considerable stand of fir timber. Between these lay some 400 acres of open grasslands of which the eastern part, quite rugged in surface contour also, was covered by sagebrush and on the eastern slopes by dense growth of quaking aspen groves in spots. The highest corner of the central ridge (northeast) reached a recorded altitude of 7,000 feet. Down this ridge ran an irrigation ditch, bringing water over an intervening shoulder of a mountain from below Duck Creek Lake to water lands at lower levels in the Shields River Valley. The grass was a heavy stand with ample moisture from the snows of winter and the clouds from the west dumping their rain as they encountered the cold air of the 11,000-foot peaks in their eastward trek.
I was immensely pleased with my purchase but since I had no immediate use for it personally, I leased the grazing privileges to a newcomer from Illinois who had grandiose plans for enhancing his already considerable fortune with utilizing this area for finishing off the 700 odd three-year-old steers that had been wintered on hay in the neighboring Gallatin Valley. The $75.00 I received was a fair return on the $112.75 I had invested in the down payment. In justice, I must add that his experience, or lack of it in this new project, was the means of breaking him for the steers being transferred from hay feed to the lush growth of grass, which included poison weeds of larkspur and wild parsnip, which roots pulled easily from the moist soil of early spring caused heavy loss among the stock. I counted seven dead from such within a few rods. His riders were unable to get to so many with the remedy of soda or bleeding by undercutting ears or tail to drain off some stagnating blood in time to save many. Locally raised cattle seemed to have acquired the ability to survive in these areas, but it was safer to wait until the month of July for complete safety.
Dudley Gilbert's homestead cabin. The cabin sits on Sam Gilbert's half section, just to the north of Section 15. The barbed wire fence is the dividing line between the two sections.
Dudley Gilbert's barns. These are on Section 15, just below the old cabin.
Northern Pacific Railroad Land Grant  
The Northern Pacific Railroad was our nation’s great dream to connect the east and west coasts by way of a great transcontinental railroad over the route blazed by Meriweather Lewis and William Clark. Due to power struggles within the company and financial problems, it took years to complete the task. There was no population base large enough to support a railroad along this route so there were few investors who could be convinced that such an idea would work. A company was hired to promote the route and sell bonds.
A land grant of 39 million acres was given to the Northern Pacific which they could sell to generate revenue for the project. It was the largest ever to be given to a railroad. Through Montana and Idaho the railroad received twice as much land as the Union Pacific. In certain portions of Montana every other section of government land was a railroad section.
Jay Cooke spent time and money promoting the line. Information was spread about the climate of the Northern Pacific country stating it was similar to Virginia, so the region became known as Jay Cooke’s Banana Belt. The railroad from Bismarck, North Dakota and connecting to Kalama, Washington was begun but met with massive construction costs and financial woes delayed its progress. Finally, in 1901 James J. Hill secured control of the Northern Pacific. The entire links were finally completed in 1970!
The Northern Pacific was instrumental in making the resources of this vast area accessible and helped settle the west.
Dudley Gilbert purchased Section 15 at the foot of the Crazy Mountains east of Clyde Park from a Northern Pacific Railroad Land Grant, paying ten percent down ($112.75) in 1901. He considered it a great buy. It has remained in the Gilbert family ever since.

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