The making of a legend: The rest of the story of the Miles City Light Pole Guy |

The making of a legend: The rest of the story of the Miles City Light Pole Guy

Levi Hurst is a bronc rider, but he's better known for being the guy who climbed the light pole in downtown Miles City during the 2021 Miles City Bucking Horse Sale. Photo courtesy of Levi Hurst.
Levi Hurst

Legends are made at the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale. Levi Hurst is now one of those legends.

But his mother isn’t too proud.

The bronc rider drove all night from Libby, Montana to get to Miles City by Friday afternoon. “I got there and got started with the festivities,” he said.

A few hours–and tequila shots–later, the cowboy ended up on top of the traffic light in downtown Miles City, where his antics were recorded by friends and strangers, and shared on social media. By the time he woke up and started regretting the tequila, his phone was blowing up.

That included a call from his mother. After beating around the bush for a bit, she came out and asked, “Did you get arrested?”

“That was not what I was expecting to hear from her. I said yes, I had. That was uncomfortable.”

Hurst, who is now an electrician, used to climb cell towers for a living, so when he thought evening festivities in downtown Miles City needed to be livened up a little, a friend pointed out the light pole and said, “I’ll bet you can’t climb that.”

Hurst and the tequila responded, “I’ll bet I can. But I don’t want to get arrested. I’ll go ask a cop.”

So he did.

The police patrolling the area strongly recommended he find an alternate source of entertainment, but Hurst was pretty determined by that point. When he told them he climbed cell towers for a living, they said they’d take a walk, but assured him he would get arrested and fined when he came down.

He clarified that the arrest wouldn’t go on his permanent record, and made a decision.

“How long can I stay up there?” Hurst asked.

“Don’t stay up there too long or we’ll have to TASE you and that won’t be any fun.”

“A buddy gave me a leg up and I scooted up there,” Hurst said.

Climbing the pole was the easy part, but making his way out to where the traffic light hung over the street was a little more challenging. “It was a pretty sketchy climb. Shimmying out across the street–it was really not made for that. There were a couple seconds I wasn’t sure I could get down. Everyone was watching, and then under the light all I could see was cops.”

He did manage to get down, and the police force met him at the bottom with handcuffs.
“As soon as the handcuffs were slapped on me, I sobered up pretty quickly and I realized I’d just gotten arrested. They took me over to the booking office and sat around visiting with the cops for about 30 minutes.”

After some discussion they decided on a $185 fine. “I shook all their hands and thanked them,” Hurst said.

The police then suggested he find somewhere else to spend the rest of his evening, so he went across town to the Bucking Horse Saloon, and proceeded to close it down.

The next morning he climbed out of his bedroll, regretting many of his decisions from the evening before–including spending a chunk of his entry fees on a fine for scaling a light pole–and not looking forward to crawling on a series of bucking horses.

That’s when he realized he was a celebrity.

“There was a handful of guys there, and they knew who I was. My phone started going crazy. Friends from back East were saying they saw a video of me. Then my mom called, and that was awkward. It’s hard to explain to someone who wasn’t there. She doesn’t think it’s as cool as everyone else does.”

Now, at every rodeo he’s up in, he’s announced as the light pole guy. Other bronc riders and judges who never knew his name, recognize him and speak to him at rodeos.

He’s also been asked to pack a flag in the Grand Entry at the Bucking Horse Sale this year.

“That was my first year at the Bucking Horse Sale. I always told my friends, if I get arrested it’s got to be at the Bucking Horse Sale, but I didn’t plan on making it a reality.”

After hearing stories of the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale, Hurst wasn’t disappointed, and he’s entered to ride again this year. As for his plans outside the arena–maybe downtown at the traffic light–you’ll have to be there to find out.

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