Tongue River Ranch

Property Map

Tongue River Ranch - Recently Sold

Miles City, Montana

This 14,840± acre cattle ranch lies in one large block along five miles of the Tongue River, 12 highway miles south of Miles City. The ranch’s 11,187± deeded acres include 350 level irrigated acres plus BLM and State leases and are estimated to produce 435 Animal Units . The ranch runs 325-350 cow/calf pairs year-round plus backgrounding outside cattle for the winter in the feedlot to utilize excess corn and hay. In addition to the feedlot, ranch improvements include two homes, a shop, a barn and corrals with scales.  The combination of riparian river bottom, extensive irrigation and thousands of acres of upland range create habitat for extensive wildlife including mule and whitetail deer; antelope; upland birds; waterfowl and warm water fish.


Tongue River Ranch lies 12 miles south of Miles City, along State Highway 59. This puts the ranch a two-hour drive from either Billings, Montana or Dickinson, North Dakota. The greatest number of commercial air service flights is in Billings on United, Delta, Alaska, Allegiant and Cape Air airlines. The Miles City airport, Frank Wiley Field, lies at 2,600 feet in elevation and has two crosswind, paved runways, each 5,600 feet in length with instrument approaches. Services include an active FBO, jet and Avgas fuels.


Miles City is the cow capital of eastern Montana. In the 1870s it was a famous terminus for Texas longhorn cattle drives seeking the open range in the Northern Rockies. Coincidently, one month after the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876 the US Army established its cavalry post here. Miles City is named after the first commander of Fort Keogh, General Nelson Miles.

It is still an agriculturally driven area with cattle being the prime commodity. Close to 9,000 people live in town. Due to the fact that it is the trade center for a number of southeastern Montana counties, its services are extensive. There are 5 banks, 8 sources of groceries, 18 restaurants, 10 vendors of agricultural supplies, a stockyard and a grain elevator. There are also art and history museums and a local theater. In addition to elementary and secondary schools, Miles Community College educates just under 500 students. There is a comprehensive acute and extended care hospital serving 7 counties backed by a 16-physician clinic. 2014 marked the 64th Annual Miles City Bucking Horse Sale. Typically 500 horses are bucked and bought over the three-day event, not to mention the attendant festivities which are an integral part of this world-renowned event.

Today the Ft. Keogh USDA Livestock Range & Research Laboratory includes the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station and the state’s Beef Cattle Extension Specialist office. Its roughly 100 sections of land support the state and U.S. livestock Industries with the objective of improving the efficiency of livestock production and the nutritional value of beef.

General Description: 

The Tongue River Ranch is one large, rectangular block of land four miles long and five miles wide. The far eastern edge is State Highway 59. The eastern 20 percent of the ranch is dominated by the influence of the Tongue River. The ranch includes five miles of river bottom where, over the eons, the river has created a broad fertile plain. Timber and brushy cover line the riverbanks and the oxbows of its meander. River water irrigates the adjoining productive pastures and leveled croplands. These provide feed and cover for cattle and wildlife alike. It is also pretty and sheltered -- a cooler place to live in the summer and protected in the winter. A private bridge spans the river for ease of moving cattle and farm machinery.

The balance of the ranch lies on the west side of the river in a large block of totally private upland pasture. The river lies at 2,400 feet in elevation. From here the land slopes gradually upward to the west, gaining 600 feet in elevation over the course of five miles. There it crowns on its far western edge on a ridge at 3,000 feet, studded with pockets of scattered timber. Springs and seeps put water into the many ravines of this expanse of native rangeland. Numerous ranch trails make it reasonably accessible. Four and one-half miles of the northern fence line are shared with the U.S. Range and Livestock Experiment Station, increasing privacy and providing for good shared-fence maintenance.


(Total of Deeded & Leased) 14,877± acres

Acreage Breakdown: 

Deeded 11,187± acres
Deeded Acreage Breakdown:
Irrigated crop - 350± acres Improved Pasture - 187± acres Sub-irrigated Pasture River-bottom - 320± acres
Rangeland - 10,330± acres
Leased Lands:
State - 640± acres BLM - 3,050± acres

Leases & Permits: 

The State of Montana grazing lease is for 640± acres and the rental is based on 121 AUMs of grazing. This 10-year lease will be due for renewal in 2021.
The Bureau of Land Management grazing lease covers 3,050± acres and is rated at 318 AUMs of grazing. It is used from June 1 through October 14. This will be due for renewal in April of 2015. Practically speaking, BLM and State leases have tended to stay with Montana ranches pretty much in perpetuity.


The building improvements are appropriate for the scale and type of operation occurring on the Tongue River Ranch. They are located near the northeastern corner of the ranch and consist of the following:
Main House: 1,592 square foot log ranch-style with three bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a stacked masonry fireplace, propane forced air heat, a partially finished 1,472 square foot basement with two additional bedrooms, and a large deck with hot tub, all set in a peaceful rural setting. The roof is shingled with wood. It was originally constructed in 1920 and last remodeled in 2002. A 20 x 30 foot detached garage is built of the same log materials and of similar vintage.

  • The shop is of wood pole construction with metal roof and exterior. It is 40 x 60 feet with an overhead door, a concrete floor and is insulated and plywood lined with 14’ walls and a barrel stove for heat.
  • The feed and equipment shed is 30 x 96 feet with an open front, three bays with concrete floors and one more with asphalt. It is of wood pole construction.
  • The horse barn is also built of logs with a concrete foundation, metal roof, wooden floors and horse stalls. It was built in 1930. It includes a hay mow and tack room and it measures 30’ x 30’. 
  • The feedlot has 1,350 feet of wood and concrete bunks with 8-foot concrete aprons. The fencing is of wood and wire cable attached to metal drill-stem posts and has automatic waterers.
  • The livestock scale has a 10-ton capacity, was manufactured by L.R. Murphy, and is State certified. It measures 10 x 20 feet, is set in concrete and has a fenced platform. 
  • Miscellaneous: Other buildings include a 1920 vintage unused house.

Miles City receives an average of 13.49 inches of annual precipitation with only 27 inches of total winter snowfall. The highest summer daytime average temperature is during July, at 88 degrees. The coldest winter nighttime average temperature is during February, at 7 degrees. The growing season is 145 frost-free days.

General Operations: 

Currently the ranch is leased to a local rancher. The lease allows for 4,800 animal unit months of grazing plus crops. Typically the ranch is run with 330 cows, replacement heifers and 15 head of bulls. Additionally, outside calves are fed excess hay and grain - mainly corn silage - conditioning them over winter in the feedlot. The feedlot can handle 900 head.

The ranch has highly productive attributes. These include miles of the Tongue River riparian corridor, good water rights, fertile soils and a 145-day growing season. This riverbottom enables the ranch to produce an abundance of feed - hay, grain, native grasses, improved pasture and aftermath grazing. The per-acre production of the irrigated cropland is 4-6 tons of hay and around 40 tons of corn silage.

On the lands lying on the east side of the river, irrigation water is from the Tongue and Yellowstone (T&Y) Irrigation District, with 160.4 acres assessed and 199 acres irrigable. The main irrigation district canal runs through the property. Water is pumped from the canal using two centrifugal pumps and spread using gated pipe. A tractor pump is used for the motor to power the pump.

On the west side of the river, water is supplied by the Tongue River Water Users Association. There are 650± acre feet of water rights with 151± acres presently being irrigated. Water is pumped directly from the river and delivered through gated pipe. The pump is electric and mounted on a trailer, which is backed into the river during the season.

Livestock water in the upland range is provided by way of dams, wells and a river-water supplied pipeline. Ease of operating this ranch comes partly from the fact that 94% of its productivity is on private lands that are contiguous and blocked up. The ranch also has a strong irrigated base that allows flexibility in dry years.

Water Resources: 

Because the ranch has five miles of frontage on the Tongue River, it has a large quantity of irrigation water that is delivered to the ranch at minimal cost. The water rights include three contracts with Tongue River Water Users Association, an acreage assessment from the T&Y Irrigation District, and private rights (supplemental to the Association rights) registered as Statements of Claim with the State’s DNRC. The TRWUA shares give the ranch 650 acre-feet of water rights for irrigation used on the crop ground on the west side of the river. The ranch also has 160± acres assessed by the Tongue and Yellowstone Irrigation District used on the east side. Additionally, the ranch owns five registered private irrigation rights from the river. Their priority dates range back to 1919 and are recorded as providing water directly from the river to 215 acres± with 8.15 cubic feet per second. Livestock water in the upland range is provided by way of dams, wells and a river-water supplied pipeline.

Grazing Resources: 

There are three types of grazing lands on the ranch: upland native pasture, improved pasture seeded to tame grasses, and sub-irrigated river-bottom grazing. The tame pasture is used mainly for early spring grazing and is located along the highway closer to the river bottom. Some of it receives “subbing” benefit from the high water table along the river and can be hayed during many years. The river-bottom grazing provides good protection along its brushy and timbered river bends. This shelter is conveniently located close to hay fields and the ranch home. The native pasture is upland and fenced off from the adjoining irrigated land. This consists mainly of non-wooded breaks, open and rolling hills dominated by various grass species, and big silver sagebrush. There are some pockets of pine on the extreme west end of the ranch. The cattle are usually out of this area by mid-October. A large portion of the upland grazing is in one pasture.

Wildlife Resources: 

Due to the feed and cover of the large and productive river bottom as well as the upper rangeland, numerous species of game and non-game birds and mammals call the Tongue River Ranch home. Mule deer love to feed on the river bottom and hide in the breaks of the upper rangeland. Whitetail deer love the wooded and brushy river bottom and the feed on the adjoining croplands. Pheasants utilize the feed and cover of the river bottoms and the lower ends of the adjoining brushy ravines leading into the native range. Sharptail and sage grouse are native to the upper rangeland brush, grasses and trees. Antelope roam over the open lands of the rangeland. Ducks and geese find the grain crops and open water of the Tongue River attractive, this being within the influence of the nearby Yellowstone River flyway.

Recreational Considerations: 

On the Tongue River Ranch recreational opportunities are limited only by one’s own imagination. The resource is abundant and at hand. As mentioned, fishing, bird hunting and big game hunting opportunities abound. Various forms of horseback riding and cattle branding, roping, and gathering occur year round.

Aesthetic Considerations: 

The expanse of the Big Sky Country fills one’s senses on the Tongue River Ranch. The lush river bottom of the river is seasonally cooler, green and teeming with life. The huge expanse of the undulating terrain of the upper rangeland is fascinating -- captivating to one’s sense of wanderlust.


Annual property taxes are approximately $11,052.00

Mineral Rights: 

No mineral rights are included in this offering.

Additional Information: 

There is an agricultural lease on the ranch that terminates in April 2015.

Broker Comments: 

A balanced, blocked up, productive 400 to 500 animal unit, eastern Montana cattle ranch situated close to town, along 5 miles of the Tongue River and with a full complement of aesthetic and recreational amenities. 

The Facts: 



  • 14,840± total acres (11,187± deeded) Balance State and BLM
  • 435 Animal Units
  • Five miles of Tongue River bottom
  • 12 highway miles south Miles City
  • 350 acres irrigated cropland - mostly level with gravity flow river water
  • Backgrounding Lot
  • Three bedroom home
  • Mobile home
  • Barn, shop, corrals, scales
  • Deer, antelope, upland birds, waterfowl 
Additional Services: 

MANAGEMENT SERVICES – Hall and Hall’s Management Division has a very clear mission–to represent the owner and to ensure that his or her experience is a positive one. Services are customized to suit the owner’s needs. They often begin with the recruiting and hiring of a suitable ranch manager or caretaker and are followed by the development of a management or operating plan along with appropriate budgets. Ongoing services include bill paying, ranch oversight, and consulting services as needed. Even the most sophisticated and experienced ranch owners appreciate the value of a management firm representing them and providing advice on local area practices and costs. Wes Oja, Jerome Chvilicek, Dan Berstrom or Brant Marsh at (406) 656-7500 are available to describe and discuss these services in detail and welcome your call.

RESOURCE ENHANCEMENT SERVICES – Increasingly the value of a ranch is measured by the quality of each and every one of its resources. Coincidentally, the enhancement of a ranch’s resources also increases the pleasure that one derives from the ownership of a ranch. Our management services have included the assessment of everything from wildlife habitat to bird habitat to water resources and fisheries and the subsequent oversight of the process involved with the enhancement of these resources. Wes Oja, Jerome Chvilicek, Dan Bergstrom or Brant Marsh at (406) 656-7500 are available to describe and discuss these services in detail and welcome your call.

AUCTIONS - Hall and Hall Auctions offer “Another Solution” to create liquidity for the owners of Investment-Quality Rural Real Estate.  Our auction team has experience in marketing farmland, ranchland, timberland and recreational properties throughout the nation.  Extreme attention to detail and complete transparency coupled with Hall and Hall’s “Rolodex” of more than 40,000 targeted owners and buyers of rural real estate help assure that there are multiple bidders at each auction. In addition, the unique Hall and Hall partnership model creates a teamwork approach that helps to assure that we realize true market value on auction day.  For more information on our auction services contact Scott Shuman at (800) 829-8747.

APPRAISALS - Staying abreast of ancillary market influences in ever-changing economic conditions requires a broad professional network to tap into. Finding an appraiser who not only understands the numbers but also the differences in value from one area to another is a critical part of making an informed decision. The appraisal team at Hall and Hall, formed entirely of Accredited Members of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA), has that critical network of brokers and lending professionals. This professional network coupled with diverse experience across multiple regions and market segments allows our appraisal team to deliver a quality product in a reasonable timeframe.  For more information contact our appraisal team at (406) 656-7500.

SPECIALIZED LENDING - Since 1946 Hall and Hall has created a legacy by efficiently providing capital to landowners.  In addition to traditional farm and ranch loans, we specialize in understanding the unique aspects of placing loans on ranches where value may be influenced by recreational features, location and improvements and repayment may come from outside sources. Our extensive experience and efficient processing allows us to quickly tell you whether we can provide the required financing.

Competitive Pricing  |  Flexible Terms  |  Efficient Processing
Tina Hamm or Scott Moran • (406) 656-7500 
Mike Hall or Judy Chirila • (303) 861-8282
Monte Lyons • (806) 698-6882
J.T. Holt • (806) 698-6884


Following is a Montana law required disclosure.


Montana law requires that BUYER’s and SELLER’s be advised about the different types of agency relationships available to them (MCA § 37-51-102 & 37-51-321).  A real estate agent is qualified to advise only on real estate matters.  As the client or as the customer, please be advised that you have the option of hiring outside professional services on your own behalf (legal and tax counsel, home or building inspectors, accountant, environmental inspectors, range management or agricultural advisors, etc.) at any time during the course of a transaction to obtain additional information to make an informed decision.  Each and every agent has obligations to each other party to a transaction no matter whom the agent represents.  The various relationships are as follows:

SELLER's Agent:  exclusively represents the SELLER (or landlord).  This agency relationship is created when a listing is signed by a SELLER/owner and a real estate licensee.  The SELLER's agent represents the SELLER only, and works toward securing an offer in the best interest of the SELLER.  The SELLER agent still has obligations to the BUYER as enumerated herein.

BUYER's Agent:  exclusively represents the BUYER (or tenant).  This agency relationship is created when a BUYER signs a written BUYER-broker agreement with a real estate licensee.  The BUYER agent represents the BUYER only, and works towards securing a transaction under the terms and conditions established by the BUYER and in the best interest of the BUYER.  The BUYER agent has obligations to the SELLER as enumerated herein.

Dual Agent:  does not represent the interests of either the BUYER or SELLER exclusively.  This agency relationship is created when an agent is the SELLER's agent (or subagent) and enters into a BUYER-broker agreement with the BUYER.  This relationship must receive full informed consent by all parties before a "dual-agency" relationship can exist.  The "dual agent" does not work exclusively for the SELLER or the BUYER but works for both parties in securing a conclusion to the transaction.  If you want an agent to represent you exclusively, do not sign the "Dual Agency" Disclosure and Consent" form.

Statutory Broker:  is a licensee who assists one or more of the parties in a transaction, but does not represent any party as an agent.  A licensee is presumed to be acting as a “statutory broker” unless they have entered into a listing agreement with the SELLER, a BUYER-broker agreement with the BUYER, or a dual agency agreement with all parties.

In-House SELLER Agent Designate:   is a licensee designated by the broker- owner/manager (of the real estate brokerage) to be the exclusive agent for the SELLER for a specific transaction in which the brokerage has the property listed and the BUYER is working directly through the same brokerage also.  This agent may not act on behalf of any other member of the transaction and works for the benefit of the SELLER, but still is obligated to the BUYER as any SELLER's agent would be.

In-House BUYER Agent Designate:   is a licensee designated by the broker- owner/manager (of the real estate brokerage) to be the exclusive agent for the BUYER for a specific transaction in which the brokerage has the property listed and the BUYER is working directly through the same brokerage also.  This agent may not act on behalf of any other member of the transaction and works for the benefit of the BUYER, but still obligated to the SELLER as any BUYER's agent would be.

Subagent:   is an agent of the licensee already acting as an agent for either the SELLER or BUYER.  A "SELLER agent" can offer "subagency" to an agent to act on his behalf to show the property and solicit offers from BUYER’s.  A "BUYER agent can offer "subagency" to an agent to act on his behalf to locate and secure certain property meeting the BUYER's criteria. 

_____ of Hall and Hall is the exclusive agent of the Seller.

NOTICE: Offering is subject to errors, omissions, prior sale, change or withdrawal without notice, and approval of purchase by owner. Information regarding land classifications, acreages, carrying capacities, potential profits, etc., are intended only as general guidelines and have been provided by sources deemed reliable, but whose accuracy we cannot guarantee. Prospective buyers should verify all information to their satisfaction. Prospective buyers should also be aware that the photographs in this brochure may have been digitally enhanced.