Elevation: 5020 FT
County: Sweet Grass
Originally settled by Norwegians in 1877, Melville is pure Montana ranching country 20 miles north of Big Timber along Sweetgrass River. Actually, Melville likes to brag that they’re “Twenty miles from anything.”
Back in the day, Melville was infamous for drinking and dancing, giving it a reputation as a “rough and tumble” town. Saturday night dances, horse races and gambling drew folks from around the county. At the same time, Melville is home to the first Lutheran congregation in Montana, built in 1914. This little white, gable-front church makes for a fun and scenic road trip. Also, don’t miss the original schoolhouse building, which still stands and is where they originally held church services before the church was built.
Melville may be small but it boasts some pretty sizeable ranching history. The town provides supplies for the sheep camps in the Crazy Mountains and is the headquarters of the Cremer Stock Ranch, which is renowned for providing stock for western rodeos.
Melville is surrounded by outdoor opportunities like hiking the Crazy Mountains. Camp at Halfmoon Campground and Hike Big Timber Creek Trail. This trailhead provides access to numerous day hikes and backpacking opportunities. Landmarks include Conical Peak, Sweet Grass Creek, Twin Lakes, Blue Lake and the Big Timber Creek Falls.
At its height, Melville had a flourmill, a cheese factory, a hotel, at least four saloons, two stores and a drug store. The railroad in Big Timber made such luxuries as dried fruits and green coffee available.
The Melville Lutheran Church is one of the first churches built in Montana. It is a popular stop for locals and visitors, and still holds services today.
Live Like a Local
Eat a real burger. Stop by Cafe 191—on Highway 191, of course—where’s you’ll get treated like a friend or family around the ranch house kitchen table. Enjoy homestyle favorites in a historic and scenic setting beneath the crazy-beautiful Crazy Mountains. Cafe 191 boasts all natural, grass fed and finished grown beef from their 5th generation family ranch—Sweet Grass Land & Cattle. Stop in for a full breakfast, lunch, or a quick coffee fix.