The Ninemile Cavvy

Amid the tranquility of western Montana, the U.S. Forest Service's Ninemile Ranger Station raises and trains horses and mules for use by ranger districts throughout the northern Rockies.


Ringed by the ridges and peaks of the Lolo National Forest, Ninemile Ranger Station lies cupped among rolling pastures west of Missoula, Montana. The Cape-Cod-style buildings include a blacksmith shop, saddle shop and historic Ninemile Remount Depot barns. Beyond the barns stretch corrals and chutes for handling stock - U.S. Forest Service stock.

The Ninemile Remount Depot was established in 1930 to breed, train and winter horses and mules for the Forest Service. Though its mission as the agency's only remount depot ended in 1953, Ninemile Ranger Station continues to support ranger districts in Montana, North Dakota and northern Idaho by growing hay and wintering stock for summer use in wilderness areas.

The ranger station, at about 3,200 feet elevation, is reached by Remount Road along Ninemile Creek. The creek flows into the Clark Fork River, just nine miles west of the old Frenchtown stage stop.

"The ranger station is a working ranch," says District Ranger Garry Edson. "Ninemile is a unique place, rich in the history of the Forest Service and its stock."

For the complete story, pick up a copy of the August issue of Western Horseman.