Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

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Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

Established by Canadian fur trader Johnny Grant, and expanded by cattle baron Conrad Kohrs, Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site commemorates the Western cattle industry from its 1850s inception through recent times. The park was created in 1972, and embraces 1,500 acres (6.1 km²) and 90 structures. The site is maintained today as a working ranch by the National Park Service. The ranch was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 19, 1960. Conrad Kohrs was born on August 5, 1835, in the Holstein province, a part of the German Confederation. At the age of 22, he became a citizen of the United States. He ventured to California during the gold rush days. He then moved on to Canada and finally to the gold camps of Montana in 1862. There he became a wealthy man by selling beef to the miners. Kohrs built his cattle operation up until at one time he owned 50,000 head of cattle and had grazing pasture of 10 million acres (40,000 km²). After the harsh winter of 1886-1887, Kohrs and his half-brother, John Bielenberg turned to more modern methods of ranching. These methods included buying purebred breeding stock, fencing the ranges and raising and storing feed. His nickname became "Montana's Cattle King." Conrad Kohrs ventured into the Sun River Valley west of Great Falls looking for more grazing land. He was impressed by what he saw in this lovely valley. It looked like a cattleman's paradise. The waters of the Dearborn and Sun Rivers were sweet, sparkling, and clear. The river bottoms had lush grassy meadows and the benchlands rolled on both sides of the rivers. Kohrs brought in several thousand steers from his Deer Lodge ranches to fatten on the rich grasses of the Sun River Valley. The days of "free grass" soon ran out and Conrad Kohrs left the Sun River Valley.