A Great Splash of Grandeur
This summer we joined the effort to restore the historic O.T.O ranch, in the Paradise Valley of Montana. Credited as being the very first guest dude ranch in Montana, the O.T.O was opened to guests by James Norris (Dick) Randall and his wife Dora in 1912. Former neighbors of Calamity Jane in Gardiner, MT the couple moved to the remote property and by the late 1920s had built a main lodge and cabins, which were eventually to house furnishings created as part of an early commission by designer Thomas C. Molesworth, a significant figure in the creation of Western style. During its heyday, the O.T.O was a destination for parties of foreign dignitaries, prominent naturalists, and “dudes”, wealthy easterners that included Theodore Roosevelt. After the start of the Great Depression, the Randalls sold the ranch in 1934 and the guest accommodations were permanently closed in 1939, the O.T.O being largely unoccupied and unused since.
A 3000 acre property, bound on three sides by the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and ten miles to the north of Yellowstone, the O.T.O land is vast and inspiring. From the Spanish word montaña, meaning mountain, Montana seems otherworldly in its terrain and is home to elk, whitetail and mule deer, black and grizzly bears, wolves, mountain lions, coyotes, prairie rattlers, song birds and scores of other wildlife. A peaceful place that nearly demands reflection, we stood on the land struck with a sense of planetary awe for this place that John Steinbeck once described as “a great splash of grandeur”. Drawing inspiration from the soft, earthy colors and dusty, crumbling textures of the Montana topography, we’re heading into the fall season with a renewed sense of purpose and a “why” for what we do.