The Schwenke Ranch, located just outside of Landusky, Montana, was originally purchased in 1977 and has remained a family operation for over 45 years. It has grown to encompass over 60,000 acres and has earned its reputation as one of the premier ranching properties in Montana. The Schwenke Ranch was recently recognized by the Montana ProRodeo Hall of Fame as one the “Great Montana Ranches” for its “commitment to preserving Western Heritage in Montana.” Combined with its’ recreational opportunities and access to the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge and Missouri River Breaks National Monument, this cow/calf family operation is a rare find, and is now offered for sale.
The ranch runs on just over 62,000+/- acres, comprised of 55,872+/- acres leased from the Bureau of Land Management, of which 4,524 AUM’s are allotted to the seller. Another 1,600+/- acres are leased from the State of Montana, and combine with 2,597+/- Deeded Acres as well as 229 Shares in the Square Butte Grazing Association, equaling another 2,700+/- Deeded Acres. Of the 2,597+/- Deeded Acres, 58+/- acres are irrigated, with another 1,200+/- considered to be Improved Grass. The Ranch is permitted to run 562+/- cow/calf pairs, however if a new owner preferred yearlings to a cow/calf operation it is expected the ranch could support 1,280 yearlings for 5 months.
The ranches forefathers understood the nature of ranching in northcentral Montana and in an act of prudence and forward thinking installed a waterline beginning at an amply producing natural spring and running throughout the entirety of the ranch, supplying water to not only the ranch headquarters, but watering the ranch’s cattle with 18 well placed water tanks. The waterline requires minimal maintenance and has been effectively functional since its’ installation in 2003. Elk herds residing on the property can be found watering at these same tanks throughout the winter. In addition to the water line, 23 reservoirs are spread throughout the ranch, ensuring that cattle on the Schwenke ranch are well watered in even the driest of years. Fences on the property are well maintained albeit minimal, as natural barriers act as a dividing point at most of the property’s boundaries.
A well-kept set of improvements make up the ranch headquarters, consisting of a 2,100 square foot, 3-bedroom house built in 1971 with recent interior and exterior updates including new siding and metal roof. A 2-car garage is attached to the house. Equipment storage, calving barns and a mechanics shop are found in 2 metal buildings; a 40’x70’ pole barn built in 1972 and a second 50’x48’ pole barn built in 1990. The headquarters are accessed by the Power Plant Ferry Road, a well-kept county-maintained gravel road, only 2+/- miles from paved State Highway 66.
Continuous metal fencing provides pens for the ranches’ horse herd and cattle work as well as decorative perimeter fencing surrounding the headquarters. A 150’ x 300’ team roping arena is exceptionally well thought out and constructed, with quality sand and efficient functionality. A reservoir directly behind the home is filled by Cyprian Creek and is of sufficient depth to be stocked with fish should the new owner prefer a private fishing pond.
The ranches’ operation has been perfected by the Schwenke family over their 45 years of ownership. Excellent stewardship is evidenced by the condition of the range and waterways, producing abundant forage for cattle grazing, with plenty remaining for the wildlife populations also making their home on the Schwenke Ranch. The acreage is primarily native prairie habitat, best suited for cattle grazing, as well as feed grounds for the transitory elk herds, moving in and around the property as they make their way through the Charles M. Russel National Wildlife Refuge and along the Missouri River. Mule Deer and White Tail Deer also make the ranch their home, finding refuge in the brush-covered draws, steep coulees, and tree-lined base of the Little Rocky Mountains that begin their ascent on the ranch. Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep can be found residing in the more mountainous terrain on the ranch, in areas transitioning from range to mountainside, the hillsides covered in pine and juniper.
The Ranch falls in Hunting District 621 where 8 Landowner Elk tags are offered each year. In recent years only 6 applications for Elk tags have been received from landowners in this District, giving the new owner a very good chance of drawing an elk tag for this area regularly from year to year.
10.25+/- miles along the southern border of the ranch adjoins the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument and Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge, where or 375,000 acres of geologic formation, wildlife areas, wilderness areas and points of historic significance has been federally protected from outside interference or development. The Missouri River Breaks is a truly untouched area of the Montana landscape, with a thriving elk population popular with hunters and wildlife enthusiasts alike. These elk herds are quite a sight to see in the late fall at the Slippery Ann Wildlife viewing area, just 18+/- miles from the ranch headquarters. Here hundreds of elk gather during mating season and are viewed by many in the evenings as the sun begins to set and the elk begin to bugle, a truly impressive sight. The CMR is world renowned for its elk harvest, and hunters and wildlife enthusiasts travel here regularly to take in the Bighorn Sheep and Mule Deer populations prevalent to the area. In the Spring avid Paddle-Fishers descend upon the James Kipp Recreation Area at the Fred Robinson Bridge where Highway 191 crosses the Missouri River to take in the plentiful Paddle Fishing season. This area can be found directly south of Slippery Ann, just 6+/- miles from the south end of the Schwenke Ranch.
The ranch is steeped in historical significance dating back to the 1800’s when the Plains Indians resided on the property, as evidenced by the many ridgelines throughout the ranch dotted with teepee rings, still visible today. As time went on, early settlers to the area utilized the Missouri River, accessible from the Ranch for travel and transport of supplies via the Power Plant Ferry before highways were constructed. Evidence of the many travelers throughout history are carved in the sandstone canyon walls, including Kid Curry and the Wild Bunch, who resided on the ranch for a time after their infamous robbery of the train in 1901. It was on the Schwenke Ranch that the Wild Bunch escaped capture and made off with over $40,000 that was never recovered. The Power Plant Ferry is a well-known historical point and can be accessed by the Power Plant Ferry County Road, running entirely through the Schwenke ranch to the Missouri River, offering insurable access to all deeded acres owned by the Ranch.
The Schwenke Ranch is truly an exceptional piece of the Montana landscape. Cattle herds have been raised successfully on this ranch for many years alongside the ranches’ wildlife populations due to the Schwenke’s excellent range management and stewardship of the land. A new owner will find the ranch has been left in exceptional condition, making them well positioned to continue forward with a cattle herd of their own, while enjoying unobstructed views of the Big Sky from their very own Montana Ranch.
Landusky: 9.2 Miles (18 minutes)
Zortman: 16 Miles (27 Minutes)
Malta: 57 Miles (56 Minutes) - Airport
Lewistown: 81 Miles (1 Hour 20 Minutes) – Airport
Billings: 154 Miles (2 Hours 30 Minutes) – Commercial Airport
James Kipp Campground/Missouri River Crossing/Slippery Ann Elk Viewing Area – 17 Miles (20 Minutes)