was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1952, the son of Walter and Shirley Bugenstein,
the oldest of four brothers. I was raised there, in Buffalo, N.Y., and
Lima, Ohio. I became fascinated with maps at an early age, copying
political maps from a geography book. I also had an avid interest in
history. I graduated from the Ohio State University in 1975 with a B.A. in
Social Science, but was unclear about my future goals.
While living in Cleveland and working in
a warehouse, I would often drive around the labyrinthine streets of the city.
On one of these “expeditions,” a roommate commented that I would make a good
cartographer. He said the same thing a couple of weeks later, and it made
me think that it would be an interesting pursuit. This was in 1978, and I
have had a nearly insatiable passion for maps ever since.
Since my background in mathematics and
science was somewhat limited, I returned to college and took night math classes
at Cleveland State University. I re-enrolled at Ohio State in the fall of
1980 and pursued a major in Geology, and graduated in 1983.
After graduation, I moved to Great
Falls, Mont., and then to Glasgow, Mont., in 1985. It was there that I
began my mapping career.
My first large mapping project was
mapping Valley County, Montana, for the local Rural Addressing Program, under
the tutelage of Carlo Porteen. This project involved mapping all ranches,
farmsteads, and small towns outside the Glasgow city limits to facilitate 911
emergency response and utility service. In addition to office work and
field mapping, community meetings were held for the residents’ input for exact
locations of items in question and local and historical names of roads.
At the conclusion of this project in the
fall of 1986, I began work on a Historical Map of Valley County, Montana.
I noticed that there was no comprehensive mapping where all historical items
could be found on one sheet. I began to map and index sites of towns, post
offices, settlements, rural schools, pioneer ranches (before 1900), roads and
trails, forts and trading posts, mines and mining districts, sites of noteworthy
incidents, and other points of interest. Also included on the maps is a
selection of pioneer brands, and an index, list of sources, and acknowledgments.
Mapping historical Montana is a process which continues today.
To date, I have produced historical maps
for the following counties in Montana:
>>> Valley (1987)
>>> Phillips (1987)
>>> Cascade (1987)
>>> Fergus (1987)
>>> Roosevelt (1988)
>>> Blaine (1989)
>>> Petroleum (1989)
>>> Dawson (1990)
>>> Wibaux (1991)
>>> Prairie (1993)
>>> Rosebud (1994)
>>> Richland (1997)
>>> Yellowstone (1999)
>>> Treasure (1999)
>>> Chouteau (2000)
>>> Fallon (2003)
Altogether, I have mapped approximately
4,400 historical sites in Montana covering an area of over 46,000 square miles.
The quest goes on.
In the spring of 1989, I hired out as a
brakeman for the Burlington Northern (now Burlington Northern Santa Fe)
Railroad. In the summer of 1991, I became a promoted conductor.
Riding trains in Montana is an experience like no other, from the cold winter
wind to the big night sky to summer on the Great Plains.
In 1995, I helped co-ordinate and
produce a set of station maps for the Yellowstone Division of the Burlington
Northern, which comprised 2,980 miles of main line in Montana, North and South
Dakota, and Wyoming. Mapped were sidings, industry tracks, railroad yards,
the Glendive round house facility, and storage tracks, in an area rich in
agriculture, coal mining, and oil and gas industries. The maps received
wide acceptance for switching and main line railway operations, and are still in
Other maps that I have created include
the Galpin Church Cemetery near Nashua, Mont., and the Beth Aaron Congregation
Cemetery in Billings.
Late in 1999, I set a table at the Huff
Antique Show to sell historical maps and perhaps add new business clients.
While setting up my table, I met Don Sorensen and Jimmy Griffin of Virgelle Merc
(on the Missouri River near Big Sandy, Mont.) who had the table next to mine.
We immediately became friends, and they took an interest in my work. By
the end of the weekend, we had a verbal agreement to produce a Historical Map of
Chouteau County, Montana— a historian’s dream job. The following spring,
while the railroad was going through a slowdown, I lived in Virgelle and created
the map— spending days and weeks in the courthouse in Fort Benton, the offices
of the Fort Benton River Press, and interviewing many of the fine and honorable
people living in the area. The final result was a double-sided map,
showing Chouteau County on one side and a detail of the Missouri River on the
other, with a separate index with 722 historic sites. Not only was an
important and pertinent map produced, but Don and Jimmy remain close my friends
to this day.
While researching the Chouteau
County map, I found that frontier newspapers provide an immediate perspective of
the everyday life of those times. To put the resource to use, in 2001, I
organized historical material from the River Press, and divided it into chapter
form: Native Americans in transition; mining in Chouteau County; pioneer
ranching; the arrival of the “Manitoba Road” (subsequently the Great Northern
Railroad); social life; outlaw history; and anecdotes, adding a historical
narrative— quite interesting, but as yet unpublished. To get a
wider, more regional view, I also organized 19th century historical material
from other frontier newspapers: the Chinook Opinion; the Valley County Gazette
(Glasgow); the Milk River Eagle (Havre); the Harlem and Malta Enterprise; the
Yellowstone Journal (Miles City); the Benton Record; the Glendive Times; and the
Glendive Independent. I’ve also researched several frontier
newspapers in Nevada, mostly in the 1890s: the Silver State (Winnemucca); the
Wadsworth Dispatch; the Chloride Belt (Candelaria); the Central Nevadan (Battle
Mountain); the Belmont Courier; the Reese River Reveille (Austin), and the
Lovelock Tribune. Unfortunately, some newspapers, such as the Landusky
(Mont.) Miner and Prespector, published for a short while in 1895, have been
lost to the ages, and their priceless information along with it.
In 2004, I met Doug Ellison, operator of
Western Edge Books in Medora, N.D.,
and together we produced a replica of a 19th century brand book for Southwestern
North Dakota showing brands that were advertised in the Medora Bad Land Cow Boy
and the Dickinson Press from 1883-1900. We also included an 1885 “Cow Boy
Dictionary” from the Medora paper, and I added a historical sketch of the area.
The brands list a “who’s who” of the local pioneer ranchers, some representing
Texas cattle outfits, and a young easterner destined for bigger things: Theodore
In March, 2005, I was contacted by
Adrian Heidenreich, a professor of Native American Studies at Montana State
University- Billings, about jointly producing a map of the Historical Crow
Nation, along with principal Northwestern trails before 1855. Together we
mapped sites of tribal villages (some dating to the 1700s), forts and trading
posts, battles and skirmishes, fur-trade rendezvous sites, the Verendrye Trail
(from Parkman), and trails which opened the Northwest to European trade.
The map was published in November, 2005.
As the Crow Nation project was winding
down, I began work on another local historical project. Bob and Theresa
Frye, ranchers south of Malta, Mont., expressed interest in a historical
inventory of the area of their ranch on the vast prairies of Southern Phillips
County in Montana. As a result of much office and field work, the
Historical Map of the Frye Ranch and Vicinity was produced, an attractive,
easy-to-read 17" x 23" wall map intended as a research tool and family heirloom.
I remain indebted to the Fryes for the opportunity to pursue such a project.
The next “Big Idea” is to produce
agricultural maps of farms and ranches in the Northern Plains area. These
maps would include: property lines, improvements, roads and trails, fence lines,
crop rotation, irrigation, pasturage, water sources, and other pertinent
information that the farmer or rancher might want to include.
Early in 2008, while attending the
Glendive Agri-Trade Exposition, I met Lance Kalfell who, with his brother Kevin,
runs one of the oldest continuously family-owned ranches in Montana. The
Kalfell Ranch, near Terry, was established in 1882 and runs the Montana brand on
the left ribs. Lance and I soon reached an agreement to create an
operations and historical map of his ranch along the criteria listed above.
After extensive field and office work, the map was produced that June. It
is an attractive and useful land use inventory that Lance seems to find helpful
to his operation.
That fall, Lance approached me about a
two-fold writing project: an concise history about the Kalfell Ranch to be a
segment in a 125th anniversary issue of the Montana Stockgrowers Association,
and a larger, stand-alone history of the ranch and its part in the history of
Eastern Montana. After some initial hesitation (I was not sure I could do
justice to the endeavor) I accepted the offer; after all, large-scale
projects do not drop in my lap every day. While in the initial phase of
the newspaper research, I was running across countless little-known items in the
Yellowstone Journal that dealt with the onset of the ranching industry in
Eastern Montana. I approached Lance about this new information, and soon
we agreed to produce a comprehensive history of Eastern Montana using the
Kalfell Ranch as a primary focus. After two years of research, and many
interviews with the Kalfell family, the manuscript has been produced and has
been submitted to a professional editor, Linda Grosskopf of Billings. The
project was a pleasure. The Kalfells have been truly open and patient with
me— not only did they give me many answers about the ranching industry, but they
also taught me to ask the right questions.
Mapping and historical research in
Montana is truly an adventure, but not only for the joy of discovery. I
have had the privilege to meet and work with the kindest, most honorable,
down-to-earth, and savvy people that I would ever want to know. Without
their knowledge and patience, my work would be only a collection of records— it
is the heirs to Montana’s heritage that brings my work to life.
When I first began work on the Valley
County historical map, I was introduced to Bud Burger, a retired cowboy who rode
for the Etchart Ranch near Glasgow. Bud was excited about the project and
eager to provide as much information as he could (which was a lot). But
the most important lesson he taught me was when we were sitting around his
kitchen table on a cold winter day. Bud said to me: “My Daddy told me, ‘If
you can’t be first, be one of the first.’ ” This flash of home-spun
wisdom has been a guiding principle throughout my career. Bud died about a
year later— I sure wish I could talk with him now.
I am interested in any and all inquiries
concerning mapping and historical research in the Northern Plains area. Kindly
send questions, comments, or suggestions to:
or call (406) 377-1922.