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Nelson Story

Introducing 2008 Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame Legacy Award Inductee…

                                                                                                       Nelson Story


Nelson Story was born in 1838 in Ohio.  He met and married Ellen Trent in Kansas and the two moved to the Montana mining towns of Bannack and Alder Gulch in 1863.  Ellen baked bread and pies to sell to the miners while Nelson operated a store and mined a claim in which he took $40,000 in gold before moving to Bozeman.

In 1866 Nelson and a crew of men drove 3,000 Longhorns up from Texas, sneaking past angry Indian scouts and the US Army, which tried to turn him back for safety reasons.  The herd arrived safely, marking the beginnings of Montana's cattle industry, near the headwaters of the East Gallatin River in the Upper Yellowstone Valley.  Over 600 head were accounted for, having completed what is believed to be one of the longest cattle drives in history.  According to “Progressive Men of the State of Montana,” the TV series “Lonesome Dove” was inspired by Nelson Story's historic cattle drive.

Anticipating the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad in Bozeman, Story constructed a water-powered flourmill in 1882, and the Story Mill became the railroad's first local customer the following year.

In addition to many successful business ventures in the fledgling city, the Storys were instrumental in bringing Montana State College to Bozeman, as well as for providing a foundation for the Bozeman community structure. The Ellen Theater in downtown Bozeman was named for Mrs. Story.

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