ENGINE IN THE BEARTOOTH


| November/December 1986



Engine

Magnificent view from the engine deep in the Beartooth Wilderness of Montana.

This is the story of a Case steam traction engine which was taken into the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness of Montana in 1909 and has remained there ever since, a venerable monument to times long gone by.

It originally powered a sawmill operated by the late Walter Scott. Now it is a part of mountain legend, visited by those who know about it, who ride horseback over ancient trails just to look at it and talk about its history.

We of Stemgas heard about it several years ago while talking with Mr. and Mrs. Bill Mackay, at their ranch at Roscoe, near Red Lodge. Mary Ann, their daughter-in-law, wife of Bill Mackay, Jr., said she'd forward some photos and information on the engine.

She sent us a tape made by a neighbor, Patricia George, wife of Arnold George, of an oral history interview with Scott, whom some people called 'Sir Walter'. We transcribed it and present most of it herewith.

'Everyone knew the engine was there, ' Mary Ann says. 'Old timers told the story. But second growth timber had covered the old trails, so that you couldn't ride in on horseback. Arnold George runs a hunting camp in the fall, and he found the engine. He rode out of the camp in the snow; that was an easier time to do it because the snow lay on the bushes and the way was more open. He took us up the next year, and now we visit the engine about once every other year.'

In the tape is reference to a fire. This was the 'big fire' of long ago which burned all the timber between Red Lodge and Livingston.