Silver King Ranch is an old-time Montana ranch steeped in history and riddled with big views. This is the kind of place seldom offered for sale. In fact, Silver King has been in the same family for over 50 years and has never been offered for sale during their ownership until now. A completely private 20-acre lake that one would only know exists by flying over is nestled against the mountain and ringed by tall conifers. The Landers Fork, a spawning tributary of the Blackfoot River, flows through for almost 3 miles and Indian Meadows Creek for over 1.5 miles. The ranch is bordered by a vast expanse of national forest land leading into one of the largest uninterrupted wilderness areas in the nation. This is an end-of-the-road ranch with no through access by others, so the level of privacy is extreme. A historic set of buildings, including a century old home and barn, provide a sense of authentic legacy that cannot be manufactured. Mountain views are abundant in every direction and recreational opportunities rampant on this 2,079± acre gem offered at $3,500,000.
Just the Facts
- 2,079± deeded acres
- Excellent wildlife populations including deer, elk and bear
- Historic homestead log dwelling, barn and other improvements
- 20-acre private lake
- Almost three miles of the Landers Fork of the Blackfoot flows through
- Indian Meadows Creek flows through for over 1.5 miles
- Expansive views
- U.S. Forest Service boundaries for over four miles
- Private, end-of-the-road location
- Gentle topography
- Western Montana location in the Upper Blackfoot Valley
- 1.5 hours to Helena and 1 hour and 45 minutes to Missoula and Great Falls
As reported by the listing record of the National Register of Historic Places “The Silver King Ranch is a historic ranch site nestled in a high mountain valley, located against the western side of the Rocky Mountains. The property boundaries were historically drawn along section lines to encompass the rich bottomland and open meadows between two well-watered creeks, Landers Fork Creek and its tributary, Indian Meadows Creek. The terrain is almost flat across the bottomland, rolling up to gentle ridgelines and peaks. The area is timbered with coniferous forest, with natural meadows interspersed throughout. A complex of historic buildings was erected near the southern boundary of the ranch property, at a location overlooking a broad, open meadow to the east, with timber and Indian Meadows Creek forming a backdrop to the west. From the ranch buildings, a spectacular panorama of ridgelines rings this basin.”The ranch is entered on its south boundary from Landers Fork Road through a secure gated entry. The ranch is bordered on three sides by national forest lands and there is only one other party who has the right to enter this gate. Their use is restricted to providing them access to their parcel neighboring to the south. The only private lands bordering the ranch are on the southern boundary, as well as a small portion of the extreme eastern boundary. There are no public or other third party rights through the ranch other than the access previously mentioned. The ranch does not form a rectangle but its mass fits inside of a rectangle that is 3 miles from east to west and 2 miles from north to south. The land is comprised of a valley that runs from north to south with the Landers Fork of the Blackfoot River flowing its length from where it enters the property at a point that is roughly midway from northeast corner to the northwest corner. Indian Meadows Creek also enters the property near its northwest corner flowing in a southeasterly direction eventually intersecting with the Landers Fork. There is an impressive waterfall on the Landers Fork in a small canyon near the south boundary. Most areas of the property are accessible by a series of private ranch roads. Silver King Lake is 20 acres in size and now exists entirely within the boundaries of the ranch as a result of a trade with the forest service that occurred many years ago. Many years fago when there was public access, the lake was stocked by the Montana department of fish wildlife and parks. It is deep and cold and surrounded by conifers. A steep, timbered ridge descends into the water from the east. A totally private lake of this size is a very unique feature not found on many ranches in Montana.
The Silver King Ranch is very “wild” property. End-of-the-road properties with rivers running through are rare and significant, private lakes are even scarcer in Montana. Silver King has both of these sought after features and also borders a massive block of forest service lands, providing panoramic views of the Scape Goat Wilderness (Bob Marshall Complex). The rich history of the ranch “haunts” the site with western romance.
Learn about the locale
Silver King Ranch is located 12.5 miles northeast of Lincoln and only about 6 miles north of Highway 200. Lincoln provides basic goods and services, including several restaurants, service stations and a grocery store. Lincoln also has a public airport with a 4200’ lighted runway. The property is located approximately 60 and 90 miles respectively from commercial air services in Helena, the state capital, and Missoula where the University of Montana is located. Both Helena and Missoula provide good urban amenities, including fine dining, theater, more extensive shopping and all other major services. Additionally, the city of Great Falls is located 90 miles to the northeast, with a full complement of commercial air service, goods and other services.
The Blackfoot Valley is undeniably one of the most highly sought-after locations in the northern Rockies. It is in the hands of some of the most prominent and ardent conservationists in the world and, as a result, it has maintained its integrity and rural character. Countless ranches in the valley have been placed under conservation easement, forever protecting them from development. In fact, the valley is the home of the very first conservation easement in the state and the valley has led the way in the conservation arena ever since. The Blackfoot Valley sits at the southern edge of the Bob Marshall/Scapegoat Wilderness complex, which gives backcountry enthusiasts access to over one and one-half million acres of wilderness. This wilderness complex is the second largest contiguous wilderness in the lower 48 states, which means that a full complement of native species can be expected to visit the ranch, either as year-round residents or through migratory patterns. The ranch is located at a historical juncture as it sits directly on the route followed eastward by Meriwether Lewis on the return trip from the Pacific Coast. That route was also used for centuries by Salish and Kootenai tribes of Native Americans, known as the “Going to the Buffalo Road”. Other historical uses include a variety of pioneering cattle ranches, early and modern logging operations, and more recently, for fly fisherman and other outdoor enthusiasts.
Elevation: 5,090-6,200± feet above sea levelAnnual Precipitation: 18± inchesAverage Annual Snowfall: 85± inches
In July of 1806, Meriwether Lewis passed through the Blackfoot Valley on the return trip from the Pacific, a round trip expedition conceived by President Thomas Jefferson. In his journals, Lewis described the Landers Fork area as having abundant game and evidence of recent American Indian encampments. The entire party was on high alert as they passed through the area. The trail along the Landers Fork was used extensively by a number of tribes to access the massive herds of bison on the plains east of the Continental Divide. Once Lewis passed through, it was another 40 years before another non-Indian traversed this region when Christian missionaries arrived in Western Montana. Homestead days followed a few decades later. Matthew King was the first homesteader in the area. He filed his claim in 1882 and is presumed to be the namesake for Silver King Mountain. In 1895, the Craig family settled a 160-acre parcel that was later sold to Owen Byrnes, a prominent businessman and politician in the early twentieth century. This 160-acre parcel is the parcel upon which the current structures are located. Byrnes added to the ranch by purchasing homesteads and railroad grant lands (Northern Pacific Railroad Company) until 1927, growing the ranch to become the Silver King Ranch with well over 2,000 acres. The history of the Silver King Ranch illustrates the change in land use over the years. The ranch began as a mining operation, then its focus changed to harvesting wild hay, to cattle and horse ranching, to timber management and land trades and, ultimately, recreation.
Learn more about the property
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
Deeded Acres: 2,080±
Total Acres: 2,080±
* All acreages are approximations.
Three deeds of conservation easement collectively covering the entirety of the ranch were executed and donated to the United States Department of Agriculture on December 4th of 1984, July 9th of 1986 and November 3rd of 1987 for the purpose of “protect[ing] the scenic, water quality, recreational, geologic, wildlife, fisheries, historic, cultural, and other similar values of the Landers Fork area and its immediate environment…”. The easements provide, in part, the following:Subdivision of the property is not permittedA total of 4 dwellings (2 pre-existing) “with normal appurtenant structures” are permitted to be constructed inside an 80 acre “envelope”Additional “nonresidential agricultural or livestock production structures are permitted” with written authorization by the Secretary of AgricultureNo public access is permitted under any of the conservation easementsFull documentation is available upon request.
The ranch has a variety of structural improvements virtually all of which have contributed to the listing of the site on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. These structures are located in a complex near the south boundary of the property and include the following:Owen Byrnes’ residence (commonly referred to as the “ranch house"): Reportedly constructed in 1914 and measuring 61’9” long x 31’8” wide, this two-story log building is constructed of peeled, square-notched logs, trimmed with corner boards. Newer cement chinking has replaced the original mortar. It is square in massing with a projecting rear wing, and a steeply pitched hipped roof capped by a small gable. A central chimney rises above the roof’s gable peak. On the east elevation, an open shed porch supported on log posts spans the first story. Two doors enter from this side, and are set to either end of the wall. Between them, a pair of windows, double-hung, 1-over-l is set just off center. Above this a shed-roofed balcony originally projected and was later enclosed as a small sitting room. On the west elevation, a single story gabled wing projects outward. On the west end, there is a single window, double-hung, 2-over-2. A recessed porch runs along the south side and a side entrance is located here. To the south, a low shed roof extends from the gable to cover a patio area. On the north, the windows include two small, paired 1-over-l sash units and a long opening with more horizontal 1-over-l hung windows. On the north and south elevations, double-hung 2-over-2 windows are hung singly and paired. Above this, second story bedrooms are lit by 2-by-2 casement windows which appear to be original, installed by turning the standard hung units on their sides.“The Cabins”:Built by Carroll “Dave” Davenport in 1953, these two log structures are the most recently constructed buildings on the ranch. The larger cabin includes a kitchen, living room with fireplace, bathroom and bedrooms while the other is a small one-room cabin that was used for guests. Horse barn:Featured in the book “Hand Raised Barns of Montana”, this two-story barn is constructed of square notched logs and measures 31’ long x 26’6” wide. It is a gambrel-roofed building constructed between 1914 and 1916. The original wooden shingling has been replaced with ribbed metal roofing. The main barn doors are centrally placed on the south gambrel end and open out in dutch-door fashion. Above them is a single square opening. Framed within the gambrel, a horizontal doorway with a ledged and braced awning door accesses the haymow. The barn opens into a small series of corrals. The corrals include a square main corral, and a loading chute, and were reconstructed at one time following the original configurations. On the interior, the barn is sectioned into stalls on the ground floor. A wooden ladder built into the southeast corner accesses the large, open hayloft above. Woodshed:The woodshed is a small, square massed cabin with a low-pitched gable roof. The roof, which is covered with non-original corrugated metal, is supported by six purlins and a ridgepole which project out across the front. Constructed with logs joined in a modified square notch, the original chinking has fallen out. Due to shrinkage, the present owner filled the spaces between the logs with lengths of small-diameter, unpeeled poles. The doorway is centered in the east wall housing a braced plank door.Smokehouse: The smokehouse is a small log building with a gable roof located on the western edge of Indian Meadows Creek. The building, now collapsed, is constructed of round-notched, axe-cut logs. A gable roof is supported on four purlins and a ridgepole; these project across the front to cover an open porch deck. The interior consists of a single room, having a small, square log crib in the southwest corner, a wooden bench along the north wall. No door remains in the doorway, which opens to the east. The opening is framed with poles. There is no foundation so the earth beneath forms the floor.Blacksmith Shop:The blacksmith shop is a square massed building with a steep gable roof. Built of frame construction with pole rafters, it is sheathed on the exterior with vertical board siding. A paneled wooden door framed with milled lumber is set off center on the west elevation. On the east elevation, a standard-sized window opening has been boarded in. A single, horizontal window opening is placed on the south. On the interior, planking covers walls and floor and there is no foundation. Brands burned into the walls link the building to early stock raising at the ranch. There are remnants of other buildings on the property including an icehouse and root cellar.
The State of Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation records indicate the following water rights are appurtenant to the property:A flood irrigation right for July 1st – September 1st from Indian Meadow Creek for 60 acres with a maximum flow rate of 2.27 CFS (Priority Date is 1949)A year round stock water right of 1 acre foot from the Landers Fork (Priority date is 1940)A year round stock water right of 1 acre foot from Silver King Lake (Priority date is 1940)A year round stock water right of .3 acre feet from an unnamed pothole (Priority date is 1940)A domestic groundwater right with a maximum flow rate of 10 GPM (Priority date is 1914)A domestic groundwater right with a maximum flow rate of 2 GPM (Priority date is 1914)
Historically, the ranch has been managed for timber. However, the “Snow-Talon” fire burned through the area in 2003 charring much of the landscape but regeneration is strong and proper management will yield future harvests.
Annual taxes are approximately $3,183.65
Learn about the recreational amenities
The ranch is rich with wildlife habitat and harbors strong populations of elk and deer. A wide variety of other Montana native species also utilize the area, including bears, moose, raptors, wolves and assorted small game. There are stands of aspen, open meadows, marshy areas, conifer forests and native range. Quality cutthroat trout fishing can be had on the ranch with its extensive frontage on the Landers Fork of the Blackfoot River. Though it has not been stocked in many years, it appears the lake also has tremendous potential as a fishery. Lincoln and the surrounding area offer one of the best locations for the active outdoor enthusiast. Fly fishing on the Blackfoot and its larger tributaries is extraordinarily good. The salmon fly hatch in mid-June is especially famous, but quality dry fly fishing occurs from April through October. The fall offers some of the best big game hunting in Montana directly on the property and in the surrounding national forest and wilderness areas. Winter provides an abundance of over the snow options ranging from snowshoeing to snowmobiling. There are trails covering hundreds of miles in and around the Lincoln and upper Blackfoot area while the Great Divide Ski Area, less than 35 miles away, provides the alpine enthusiast the convenience of lift-served skiing.
Learn about the general operations
At one time or another throughout its history, operations at Silver King Ranch consisted of mining, ranching, raising horses, dude ranching and logging. The current owners are a family that purchased the ranch in 1963 and have used it mainly as a summer retreat.
The current owners grazed cattle on the ranch during the spring, summer and fall months from May until October, but have not done so in recent years. A new owner will find a productive grazing resource here.