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“Yellowstone” Vic visits Crail Ranch

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By Anne Marie Mistretta Explore Big Sky Contributor

BIG SKY – Nearly 130 years ago, “Yellowstone” Vic Smith, dispatch rider, hunter, scout, and trick shot, maintained a camp cabin nearby in the Daly Creek/Black Butte area. On Aug. 18 at 1 p.m., visit Crail Ranch Homestead Museum to “meet” the champion buffalo hunter and legendary frontiersman who guided Teddy Roosevelt.

Actor Arch Ellwein, who portrays many historical figures including Roosevelt and John Ordway of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, makes “Yellowstone” Vic Smith come alive, using Smith’s own words from his memoir.

Ellwein recounts Smith’s experiences with the likes of George Armstrong Custer, Sitting Bull and Theodore Roosevelt. Ellwein’s performance evokes a time when the Gallatin Canyon frontier was barely penetrable and buffalo dominated the plains of eastern Montana. It’s estimated that 60 million bison roamed North America in the time of Lewis and Clark, but by the mid-nineteenth century these herds numbered 20 million, and by 1889 only 551 wild bison remained.

Bring the family and your picnic lunch, and leave some time to tour the homestead. Crail Ranch Homestead Museum is located on Spotted Elk Road in Big Sky and the presentation is free and open to the public.

Partial funding for the Speakers Bureau program is provided by a legislative grant from Montana’s Cultural Trust and from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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