Shepherd, Montana, is a humble farming community located along the banks of the mighty Yellowstone River.
It forms part of Yellowstone County and is nestled in the South Central zone of the state. In a 2020 census, it was revealed that the population of the town sits at 622, up from 193 in 2000.
The town’s name is derived from one of the earliest European settlers to the area, R. E. Shepherd. He is credited with founding the Billings Land and Irrigation Company, along with Merchants National Bank.
Shepherd developed in the early 1900s as the United States government incentivized immigrants to settle in the district. The town’s location along the Yellowstone River made it ideal for trade.
In addition, the area is steeped in history. A nearby nature reserve is home to pictographs and artifacts over 2,100 years.
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Huntley Project Museum
The US government sent trains of Scandinavian and Dutch immigrants to settle in the Billings area in the early 1900s.
What was once grazing pasture for bison was turned into arable land. Fertile enough to kick off crop production and prompt an agricultural boom.
At that stage, the town of Billings had been part of the Northern Pacific railroad for two decades. It presented an ideal opportunity for the government to boost food security. They could grow crops in a central place, and the produce would reach both the East and West coast towns.
As a result, the Huntley Irrigation Project was launched in 1907, bringing a consistent flow of water to the lands. The project was named after Huntley, Illinois, which sits on the Northern Pacific railroad.
The Huntley Project Museum exhibits the transformation of the region thanks to agriculture. Plus, it showcases thousands of farm implements from the early 1900s and artifacts unearthed in the vicinity.
Lake Elmo State Park
Situated 11-miles outside Shepherd is the majestic Lake Elmo State Park. The centerpiece of the location is a 64-acre reservoir where you can paddleboard, canoe, boat, or fish. In addition, the park allows ice skating, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing in the winter.
Hikers and nature lovers can enjoy a peaceful stroll around the trails. There is even a section for your dog to enjoy their time at the park.
Given the history of the area and the remnants of the agricultural boom, the Billings area is a hotbed for antique treasures. Most of the antique shops are in Billings or Huntley, a few miles south of Shepherd.
However, it is worth driving out to these spots to pick out your piece of Yellowstone County history.
Hikers and trail runners will find a trip to Shepherd worthwhile when you visit the John H. Dover Memorial park. The trail is a short and easy 2-mile loop, which the average hiker should manage. It is worth every step as you venture along a breathtaking journey through the Yellowstone valley.
Parts of the trail require you to traverse an old wooden bridge, but it is nothing the average person cannot manage. The trail also provides spectacular views of the Yellowstone river rushing through the reserve.
Lake Elmo State Park measures 123-acres and stands 3,199 feet above sea level. It offers an array of land and water sports to keep various individuals satisfied.
Summer activities include swimming, boating, kayaking, and canoeing. Plus, you can try your hand at paddleboarding and windsurfing. There is also a 200-square foot area with a water feature to entertain your dogs.
There is an abundance of fish in Lake Elmo, and you can catch them year-round. In the summer, you can fish from the banks, or on a rowboat. Then in winter, challenge your skills with ice fishing.
An article by KTVQ News explains that over ten fish species exist in the 64-acre reservoir, including cutthroat and rainbow trout, small and largemouth bass, yellow perch, and channel catfish.
The authorities are set to restock the lake at the start of April 2022. Preparing for a successful summer season. One can expect entertainment with the rods this season on Lake Elmo.
A more exhilarating way to see a town is to hop on a Segway tour. Montana Segway Tours offers four routes for you to navigate around Billings.
The Black Otter trail begins outside Applebees on the town’s Main Street and journeys out to the airport. This tour suits those looking to specifically see what the city and its surroundings look like.
Josephine Crossing is a route for the adventurous traveler. It starts at Preston Park and navigates along the Yellowstone River for incomparable views. The segway’s on this tour feature ATV tires to navigate muddy conditions.
Furthermore, the Shiloh route takes a hassle-free trip through the wetland reclamation area for a hassle-free ride. Lastly, the Alkali creek route takes you around the creek with the tour’s name and passes the Hilltop subdivision en route.
For the cultural and history buffs, the Moss Mansion Museum awaits. It was designed by famed New York architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh. Hardenbergh is renowned as a master of skyscraper architecture.
The Moss Mansion Museum was built in 1903 and features on the National Register of Historic Places. Preston Boyd Moss and his family owned the house before it was listed on the Register.
Boyd was initially a banker and later found success as the owner of a chain of lumberyards. After relocating to Billings from Missouri, he purchased a newspaper before setting up a central heating plant.
That wasn’t enough for Boyd as he proceeded to start a utility company that would become Billings Lights, Water, And Power Company.
Nine miles south of Shepherd lies Pryor Creek golf club. Now, golf is not the first reason you will come to this area, but the option is there. Pryor Creek is a well-manicured municipal golf precinct with 36-holes.
Take your pick between the Elmer Link and the Johnny Walker course. Both layouts offer exquisite vistas of rolling hills and bluffs, while water hazards and tree-lined fairways keep you on your toes.
While the accommodations in Shepherd are limited, its closeness to Billings means there are plenty of places to stay if you are planning a trip to the town. Here are a few suggestions for you to check out!
- Hilltop Inn by Riversage (Billings)
- Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Billings
- Doubletree By Hilton Billings
- Holiday Inn Express Billings East, an IHG Hotel
- Boothill Inn and Suites
- Best Western Plus Clocktower Inn
- Riversage Billings Inn