Updated: Sep 1, 2020
Open range pioneer and early adopter of modern cattle ranch practices - best known as "Montana's Cattle King".
1835-1920 | Artist: Robert Wadsworth Grafton (1876-1936)
Impact & Accomplishments
“Montana’s Cattle King,” Conrad Kohrs, was born in Holstein, Germany, joined a ship’s crew at age fifteen, and eventually made his way to America, in the 1850s.
Kohrs headed West, following the gold prospecting opportunities, and was hired to butcher the cattle driven to feed the miners in the camps. He recognized the potential of selling beef and establishing ranches in this new territory. In 1865, Kohrs purchased a ranch near Deer Lodge, Montana, and eventually grew his herd to 50,000 head, grazing across ten million acres. At his peak, he shipped 10,000 head of cattle annually to Chicago.
After the devastating winter of 1886-1887, Kohrs, president of the Montana Stockgrower’s Association, helped lead western cattlemen away from open range ranching. He established a new model for a successful modern operation based on purebred stock, fencing, and raising and storing feed.
Did You Know?
"They were a rugged set of men, these pioneers, well qualified for their self-assumed task. In the pursuit of wealth a few succeeded and the majority failed,...the range cattle industry has seen its inception, zenith, and partial extinction all within a half-century. The changes of the past have been many; those of the future may be of even more revolutionary character." - Conrad Kohrs, 1913
Conrad Kohrs and his friends in the sitting room of the main ranch house. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.
Wide open spaces, the hard-working cowboy, his spirited cow pony, and vast herds of cattle are among the strongest symbols of the American West. Once the headquarters of a 10 million acre cattle empire, Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Montana preserves these symbols and commemorates the role of cattlemen in American history.
Montana Ranch Feature: Grant-Kohrs National Historic Site. Video courtesy of Montana Stock Growers Association