Russell’s program highlights Nelson Story

Author John C. Russell
Nelson Story

The Yellowstone Gateway Museum’s second Ranching Roundup: Story and Song speaker series program, Treasure State Tycoon: Nelson Story and the Making of Montana, is presented by author John C. Russell on Wednesday, October 16, 7:00 pm, Park Photo, 115 S. Main St., Livingston. 

The presentation is based on Russell’s book, Treasure State Tycoon: Nelson Story and the Making of Montana, which recounts the remarkable life of Nelson G. Story, a colorful and contradictory figure whose influence on Montana’s development was profound and rivaled by few others in its history. After striking it rich in gold fields of Alder Gulch, Story drove the first herd of cattle from Texas to the territory that would become the Treasure State and went on to build a commercial empire of diverse interests, the success of which relied both on his determination and ingenuity as well as his penchant for fraud and deceit. Story’s reputation for ruthlessness in both personal and professional conduct was well earned, but he was also a generous philanthropist, supporting local churches, schools, and other civic improvements. He tirelessly promoted the upstart community of Bozeman, playing a central role in the establishment of the Montana State College of Mechanical and Agricultural Arts?today’s Montana State University. Like other political and business leaders of his time, Nelson Story left behind a legacy rife with paradoxes that gave shape to life in Montana and continues to resonate in the contested mythology of the American West.

John C. Russell was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and moved to Bozeman to attend Montana State University. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1978. He has worked as a broadcast reporter in television and radio, and was director of the Gallatin (County) Historical Society from 1997-2014. John has written several historical articles, one published in Wild West Magazine. Treasure State Tycoon: Nelson Story and the Making of Montana is his first book. John and his wife Peggy live in Bozeman.  

Other upcoming programs are “A Pure Quill Montana Photographer” by Barbara Van Cleve on October 30, which includes stories of her career taking photographs of the western range, ranchers, rodeo, cowboys, and cattle women. Barbara grew up on a ranch near Big Timber. Neal Lewing presents “The F.A.R.M. Show,” a Farm and Ranch Musical tribute on November 13—a fast-paced family-friendly show using music, poetry, history, legends, lies and a few laughs to celebrate the myriad aspects of agriculture through the ages.

“Rancher. Citizen Activist. Montana 1997,” an exhibit of black and white photographs will be at Park Photo during the speaker series, featuring photography by John Gayusky. He photographed nine ranches from Sweet Grass County to Circle in eastern Montana, documenting what inspired and motivated ranchers and their involvement in natural resource and agricultural policy making. The ranchers were members of the Northern Plains Resource Council.

The free program is open to the public, and refreshments are served. Donations are appreciated. Doors open at 6:30 pm. John C. Russell will sign copies of his book after the program. Watch for more information about upcoming programs or contact Karen Reinhart at 222-4184 or kreinhart@parkcounty.org. Visit our Facebook page, yellowstonegatewaymuseum, for updates.