Who Is That? A Look at Bozeman Statues

Ramona Mead  |   Monday Aug. 31st, 2015

Regardless of how long you’ve been in Bozeman, be it a decade, a year, or a week, chances are you’ve noticed one or more of the interesting pieces of artwork located throughout town. If you’re like me, you’ve driven by a statue a million times and thought ‘I wonder what that’s all about?’ So I decided to look into the history of a few of the most prominent statues around Bozeman!

I was surprised to discover that even my friends who were born and raised in Bozeman didn’t know much about the local artwork. Many of us have nick names for our personal favorites and are familiar with where they are, but no one I inquiried of was able to tell me much about who they are or why they’re there.

After inquiring to my Facebook friends, at summer bbq’s and my book club I noted which statues were mentioned the most and did some research. This is my short list of the most notable statues in town and a little bit of their history.

The Woman at Babcock and Tracy:

This is Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973). The first woman to hold a high government office in the United States, Rankin was elected to the US Congress from Montana in 1910. This statue, created by Jim Dolan, is one of the Gallatin Art Crossing’s exhibits. GAC is a program bringing art of various formats to the City of Bozeman for free.

The Bobcat on Campus:
Located in the Alumni Plaza on the campus of Montana State University, this bronze bobcat’s official name is “Spirit,” after MSU’s first live mascot. The plaza was developed by the MSU Alumni Association and donated to the university in October of 2009, in tribute to all alumni.

The Guy on a Horse at Lindley Park:

This is Nelson Story Sr. (1838-1926). Story brought
the first cattle to the Gallatin Valley in 1866. He is also known as Bozeman’s first millionaire. He built the first story Mansion, which was located on Main Street and later built today’s Story Mansion (Willson and College) for his son T. Byron Story, in 1910. This statue was placed by the Bozeman Centennial Committee in 1983, to commemorate Bozeman’s Centennial.

The Guy in front of Willson Auditorium:

This is Malcolm C. Story (1902-1994). Malcolm was a grandson of Nelson Story, the guy on the horse at Lindley Park. In his later years, Malcolm is said to have been fond of wandering the streets of Bozeman in a bright red plaid coat.

Designed by local artist Jim Dolan this statue was commissioned in 1995, a year after Malcolm died, by America Land Title Company to commemorate its 25th anniversary.

The Guy in front of The Chamber of Commerce:
This is Jim Bridger (1804-1881). Bridger was among the foremost mountain men who explored the Western United States in the 1820’s-50’s. He is said to have been one of the earliest explorers of Yellowstone National Park, and the obvious namesake of the Bridger mountains and Bridger Bowl. His statue was designed and created by artist Ott Jones and donated to the Chamber of Commerce in 2003.

The Lady sitting outside Hawthorne School:
This is Jeannette Rankin’s second appearance on my list. This statue was also created by artist Jim Dolan along with local students. It is a permanent exhibit in the Gallatin Art Crossing Collection.

The Guy with the Lion on Kagy:
This is Gary Tschache (1946-2011), who was a lifelong member of The Lion’s Club. Born and raised in Bozeman, Tschache was known as a master fundraiser for groups important to him. He was an avid supporter of local sports, most notably the Bozeman Hawks. He was part owner of the Kagy Corner Store, in front of which the statue sits.

I realize I’ve only covered a tiny portion of the beautiful artwork that graces the streets of Bozeman, this certainly isn’t to say the others aren’t noticed or found to be interesting. Besides this list, my two personal favorites are the Taming the Toad outside on the north side of The Emerson (by Mitch S. Billis), and Tortoise on Main Street (by Kirsten Kainz), both of which are exhibits in Gallatin Art Crossing.

For more information about Gallatin Art Crossing, go to gallatinartcrossing.com. For a better view of the statues around town, get out and up close to take a look!

About the Author(s)

Ramona Mead

Ramona Mead is a freelance writer and jack of all trades. She is passionate about books, music, pets and living life to the fullest here in Montana. Her blog can be found at http://benicefollowrules.blogspot.com

View more of Ramona Mead's work »