As a child of a small town, there were certain times that I believe we had it so much better than some of the larger schools.  Or maybe I just didn't know any better at the time.  One of those events was that of school field trips.  Any chance as a kid to get out of the classroom was always a special day.  One of those trips each year during school was that to travel to our county seat of Stanford to tour the courthouse and the adjacent historical museum.

Visiting The Ghost Was Always Top of My List to Get Done

Entering into the rotunda area of the courthouse brought you to a huge glass case featuring an ominous figure of a large dog.  Larger than any domestic dog or coyote, you soon realize you are face to face with the legendary white wolf of Judith Basin County.  Even after all these years. the animal still looks like you could feel the breath coming from his muzzle.  It was an amazing experience as a child, and one that anyone can visit at any time.

Montana Cowboy Hall Of Fame Website
Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame Website

How The Legend Began and How It Came to an End

According to the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame website, the white wolf was first spotted in Judith Basin County in 1915.  He would continue his reign of terror until finally being brought down by rancher Al Close, 93 years ago this month, in May of 1930.  Ranchers at the time estimated that the wolf cost livestock producers over $30,000 at the time.  An incredible amount of money for the time.

When asked years later about taking the wolf down, Close recounted:

I almost didn’t shoot because I thought, ‘What a shame to kill such a smart fellow.’ It was the hardest thing I think I ever did. I knew it was the cruel nature of the wilderness, the fight for survival that had made him the ferocious hunter that he was. But I came to and let the bullet fly fairly into the face of the old criminal.


Visiting This Legendary Display and Learning More

While the wolf was a main staple of the courthouse, he now resides in the Judith Basin Trading Post in Stanford, Montana.

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