Otto’s Bozeman

Downton Bozeman – Main street
After having done the research at the Gallatin History Museum, I wanted to go out and see the places that Otto had seen and described in his memoires. The most obvious place to start this was of course Main street. It was here where Otto arrived in Bozeman and where he spent his first night in town, in the Spieth & Krug Brewery. The two story brick building still standing was built by the brewers in 1882, after a fire had destroyed the original wooden structure. This means I wasn’t looking at the exact same builing that Otto had stayed at, but the new structure was built on top of the old one, so at least I was standing at the same spot.

Cooper’s Armory is the shop which Otto admires in his memoires – and parts of the fascade are still standing today. It’s incredible to imagine that Otto saw that exact same structure. There are a few other buildings on Main Street which were built before 1881, so I imagined Otto saw those too, but he does not describe them particularly.

A very special day in downtown Bozeman was when I was invited as a special guest to the historic tour by the Extreme History project. The project aimes at making history more fun and accessible to the general public, preserving Bozeman’s history and organizing many events around the area’s rich history. Many different history walking tours are featured in their program, and I was invited as a special guest to the “From Tents to Town: Bozeman’s Historic Main Street” Tour. When the tour group stood in front of the Spieth & Krug Brewery Building, I read from Otto’s memoires about the Christmas Ball of 1881 at the brewery. This was a great experience and I would like to thank the Extreme History project for this opportunity.

Red Bluff & the Madison River Toll Bridge
As we didn’t stop at the Red Bluff stagecoach stop on the way to Bozeman, I went back there to visit the ruins of the building. It had been built in 1867, and Otto stayed here for one night on his return from Bozeman to Virginia City in February 1882. Unfortunately, the builing was destroyed by a fire in 2006, but the foundation walls were still standing. Near Red Bluff, we stopped at the Madison River, where the remains of the Toll Bridge still can be seen. Even though Otto does not mention this bridge particulary, I am conviced that he did pass here on his journey to Bozeman.

The Bridger Creek & The Bracket Creek
The Bridger Creek is not only important because it ran through the property (and Otto bathed in it), but it was the river along which they hunted. They followed the creek to the other side of the Bridger Mountains all the way to its source and also followed up the Bracket Creek during their hunts. On my very first day, Mike [my host] took me on a roadtrip following the Bridger Creek. Shortly after passing the area where the Farm-grounds are, I totally flipped out, because I recognized what Otto called a “stone gate” in the mountains – another incredible moment where Otto’s words came alive. (It’s on Bridger Canyon Road (86) – at the bottom of the M). During the ride I constantly thought “I am just driving along Otto’s hunting route – no big deal”.

Bridger Mountains
The Bridger Mountains – to whose feet the Farm of August Gottschalk was – are the mountains Otto saw every day and hunted at. I was lucky to be able to see these stunning mountains from a very different angle than Otto – from above. My friends Ursula and Greg took me on a glider trip across the entire mountain range – it was sbsolutely absolutely incredible!!!!

August Gottschalk’s grave
August Gottschalk died in 1919, his wife Louisa in 1929  – their joint grave can still be visited on the Sunset Hills Cemetary.

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