By Kitty Lou Rusher
Pioneer Museum Treasures 

Michael Bugenstein & His Book


Treasures galore await the curious-minded who enter the Valley County Pioneer Museum.

Once again, there’s a book here you might savor.

“Since the Days of the Buffalo – a History of Eastern Montana and the Kalfell Ranch” was written by Michael Bugenstein in 2013 and begins with this excerpt:

“The climate is one of dramatic extremes. Rainfall is limited to an average of 10 to 12 inches annually, and when the rains do come, they are often torrential downpours. Generally, the vast landscape is dwarfed by a brilliant azure sky where summertime temperatures reach over 100 and, in winter, can plunge to minus 40. The wind is ever-present, ranging from a gentle breeze to a wailing gale. Summer storms often bring intense lightning and unwelcome hail. Paralyzing winter blizzards can be counted on…”

Vastly quotable, Bugenstein also offers early on, “…the beautiful landscape: the somber-colored buttes and badlands, carved from yellow, tan, gray, and red strata into fantastic shapes, and the endless sky, its own firmament.”

Bugenstein, who lived a number of years in Glasgow before moving to his current home in Glendive, combined his desire to retrieve and collect and write history in its environmental, geographical and legal context with the Kalfell family’s desire (with some urging from the Montana Stockgrowers Association) to compile the history of the Terry-area family’s century-old holdings.

The mildly curious to the dedicated aficionado of this area of Montana’s varied history should find much to digest and enjoy in reading this 162-page volume. Besides the descriptive writing, the book offers many fine vintage and recent photographs, maps and other illustrations. Coupling Bugenstein’s writing acumen with his fine cartography skills has resulted in a book worth adding to any collection. Check it out.

A sidelight is that during the time that Mike lived in Glasgow, he spent considerable time at the museum researching the information that he used in compiling his Historical Map of Valley County, 1987. A few copies of that map are still available. He subsequently did similar projects for other counties. Bugenstein is yet another example of a transplant to Montana who has embraced its history and allure and been productive in doing so.


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