On This Day, 47 Years Ago...

  • Share:
"Envision a picturesque village of 3,000 people nestled in a large, green valley basin complete with well-maintained golf greens, an air strip, a trap and skeet shooting facility, indoor swimming pools, tennis courts, equestrian showgrounds, and a dude ranch nearby.

Follow a series of gently rising slopes from the northeastern base of the spectacular Lone Mountain. 

Move your vision along the forested terrain at the base of Lone Mountain, until another village can be seen amidst the gently sloping meadows of a large scenic valley, one that boasts residences, hotels, a semi-enclosed pedestrian shopping street, and a huge central parking facility -- all looking as though they were attached to the mountains by the five ski lifts rising towards the peaks.

Glance at the valley, notice that it runs along the base of the Spanish Peaks Primitive Area, is dominated to the southwest by Lone Mountain and includes Wilson Peak to the northeast -- making the area one of scenic delight.

Is the picture painted an improbable dream?"
- Donna Brown, The Gallatin County Tribune Tuesday, February 17, 1970

Forty-seven years ago today, The Gallatin County Tribune and Belgrade Journal published a "Special Edition" outlining the plans for our yet-to-be-formed mountain resort community. The feature article, entitled, "Lone Mountain Looms Over Site of Proposed Big Sky Complex," leads with the news of "The Big Sky of Montana" having been confirmed by Chrysler Realty Corporation and Chet Huntley from the Governor's office the preceding day.

It is, truly, a nostalgic and inspiring tale of the vision Mr. Huntley had for this special place. The feature spans 4 full pages, and speaks of "A Mountain of Many Moods" (not everything has changed here in 47 years, afterall...) and an early hand-drawn map of the proposed "winter" and "summer" villages. 

As I sit here in 2017, hearing the buzz of construction traffic on the corner of Hwys. 191 and 64 out the window, I can't help but hope that Mr. Huntley would be proud of where Big Sky is at presently. So many of the things outlined in the article as a part of his vision are thriving pillars of our resort and community today. 

"The summer area is proposed with an 18-hole tournament size golf course forming the heart of the summer area. It is located in the center of the large basin...The curving arterial road connects the ski village and the summer area with U.S. 191. A frontage road that runs along the arterial will be built for serving the condominium apartments and single family residential development which is built to define the areas of the golf course and in some cases fingers into the golf course."

"Huntley went on to say there was one section of land -- section 30 -- that is very essential to the Big Sky Complex, 'It's only value is that its location is highly strategic because it sits at the base of three marvelous ski slopes.'"


The entire "Special Edition" from February 17, 1970 lies in pristine condition here at the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce & Greater Yellowstone Welcome Center, across from Mr. Huntley's original desk, on loan from the Huntley family. A collection of items from Emmet Crail's historic homestead are also here, and you can experience the Crail Ranch itself during the summer months. Stop on by and say hello, and check out these important artifacts that illustrate our community's roots. Who knows, they might just help you find that inspiration you needed in your daily life. Indeed, I think we've answered the opening question of whether or not Mr. Huntley's vision was in "improbable dream." It may be the greatest dream many of us will ever know.
 
 

"For long years I have had an ambition and a vision to somehow arrange it so that thousands of my fellow Americans, and visitors from foreign countries as well, might come to this state and see its resources and incredible scenery and meet its equally incredible people." - Chet Huntley