On this Independence Day, the saga of Frank Crail teaches us a lesson about the value of our country.
When Crail emigrated from Indiana to Montana, the State of Montana had yet to be minted. Our country was not quite 100 years old and had recently emerged from a bitter Civil War. In the midst of that deadly conflict, the 37th Congress in 1862, comprised solely of Union state representation, passed legislation that would have a tremendous impact on both the country and Frank Crail: the Land Grant College Act, the Pacific Railway Act, and the Homestead Act.
Crail arrived in the territory in 1865 with hopes of forging a better life. After a stint at mining, Crail started his first homestead in the Bridger Mountains in the 1870s. With no railroad yet to ship his goods to market, he became a freighter. With the 1883 arrival of the railroad in Bozeman, Crail returned to ranching.
Crail submerged himself in local and territory politics, and he even successfully ran for office, forcing relocation to Bozeman. After only one term, “The Land” called to Crail again, and at age 60, he acquired a ranch in what is now called The Meadow. The Crail family would eventually expand the ranch to 960 acres, running a livestock and horse operation, growing grain, and working a sawmill for a half century.
On this July 4th, Frank Crail would suggest we celebrate a country that values equality, self-determination, free enterprise, hard work, and the future.
The Crail Ranch Homestead Museum is open for tours on weekends throughout the summer and on July 4th from noon to 3. A Walking Tour is available during daylight hours throughout the year. The grounds are open to the public for picnics.
For more details on Crail Ranch, click HERE