“THE BREAKS”, MONTANA
Well known by hunters, “The Breaks”, as it’s referred to by locals, is rich in more than populations of trophy elk. Steeped in history, the area was traversed by Lewis and Clark as they explored the Missouri River. It became an important inland port for trading during the Western expansion and has served as a backdrop for outlaws as well as famous artists.
As the Missouri River cuts through the rocky white cliffs, the land seems to “break away” to the river, creating spectacular views and plenty of recreational opportunities for visitors. Designated as a national monument in 2001, along 149 miles of the Upper Missouri River, the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument includes over 375,000 acres of geologic formations, wildlife areas, wilderness areas and points of historic significance.
Tasked with preserving the Missouri as a free flowing river, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has ensured the protected area (running from Fort Benton to the James Kipp Recreation Area) has not changed much since it was explored by Lewis and Clark more than 200 years ago. Popular for float trips, boaters experience stunning scenery, wildlife and plenty of historic sites along this section of the longest river in the United States. In addition to the Upper Missouri River, the monument includes portions of Arrow Creek, Antelope Creek, and the Judith River.
Hunters visiting the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument will enjoy the monument’s wildlife including elk, mule deer and a thriving population of around 900 bighorn sheep – boasting the highest hunter success rate in the area. Nearby Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge is famous for its elk harvest. Named for the famous painter and cowboy Charles M. Russell, the wildlife refuge borders almost 10 miles of the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument. The remote and wild landscape of The Breaks provides plenty of opportunities to fish, hike, and camp to the public, despite the many private properties that are intermingled with the public land.
However wild The Breaks of Central Montana may feel, the area has had non-native inhabitants since the mid 19th century. The fur trade first established the Missouri River as a trade route, despite the well known dangers of the journey via the waterway. Steamboats began operating in and out of Fort Benton in 1859, bringing supplies to gold miners in Montana and to more remote areas even further West via freight. Eventually as the railroad supplied the Western expansion, Fort Benton became a river port that supported homesteaders flooding into the area in 1910.
One of the most notorious residents of The Breaks was Harvey Alexander Logan, known better as Kid Curry, a member of the Wild Bunch along with Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid.
Referred to as “the fastest gun in the West”, Kid Curry’s career as an outlaw started in Montana where he shot and killed a neighbor who had accused him of romancing his daughter. Rather than stand trial, Curry fled Montana and began living life as an outlaw. Curry would return to Montana several times with the Wild Bunch, once robbing a train in Red Lodge using dynamite to blow up the train’s safe and then heading to his hideout in The Breaks. One of Western Ranch Broker’s newest listings, Missouri Breaks 160, once served as Kid Curry’s horse hideout. Historians say the gang used the property to escape an angry posse after robbing a train in Wagner, Montana.
The days of the Wild West long past, The Breaks is still a place full of adventure for visitors and residents alike. Contact Western Ranch Brokers to learn more about the legend filled Missouri Breaks 160 listing and see how we can go to work for you.