Cow Country

In the 1880s, days of the open range, many a roundup outfit worked this country. The spring roundup gathered the cattle in order to brand and tally the calf crop. The fall roundup gathered beef critters for shipping.

An outfit consisted of the captain, the riders, the "reps" from neighboring ranges, the cavvy or horse herd in charge of the day herder and night hawk, the four horse chuck wagon piloted by the cook and the bed wagon driven by his flunky. Camp moved each day.

The cowboys rode circle in the morning, combing the breaks and coulees for cattle and heading them toward the central point to form a herd. In the afternoons of spring roundup the guards kept the herd together, the cutters split out the cows with calves, the ropers dabbed their loops on the calves, took a couple of dally welts around the saddle horn and dragged 'em to the fire. There the calf wrestlers flanked and flopped them, and the brander decorated them with ear notches, or dew laps, and a hot iron. It wasn't all sunshine and roses.

Marker Erected by Montana Department of Transportation

"Cow Country." The Hi-Line and the Yellowstone Trail: To Glacier Park and Back Again. 1 Sept. 2004. Lacus Veris. 25 Feb. 2024 < Hi-Line and the Yellowstone Trail/The Wide Missouri/Marker: Cowboy Argot 2004-08-04 11.24.48.shtml>. Last modified 6 Oct. 2015. Served 5975 times between 16 May. 2010 and 23 Feb. 2024. Contact