Will James "Gather" comes to Hardin | TSLN.com

Will James "Gather" comes to Hardin

Courtesy photo
Will James |

Will James was, and continues to be, one of Montana’s most colorful personalities. The writer, artist and story-teller is probably best known for his award-winning book, “Smoky, The Cow Horse,” and wrote 23 additional books in his lifetime, the last one being “The American Cowboy,” published in 1942, the year of his death.

While only a resident of Montana for 15 years, he wrote many of his articles and books and created much of his art work in his studio on the Rocking R ranch on East Pryor Creek, Big Horn County, MT. The studio and two cabins from the ranch were recently acquired by the Big Horn County Historical Museum in Hardin, where the Will James Society will be holding their 17th annual “Will James Gather” Sept. 17-20. The buildings will be dedicated at the Big Horn County Historical Museum on Saturday, Sept. 19.

“The Gather,” as it is known, will bring approximately 100 of James’ fans to Hardin to celebrate his life and his works. Scheduled events include a reception in downtown Hardin, a meeting of the board of the Will James Society, a pontoon trip on Bighorn Lake, and tours of The Rocking R and the Sarpy Ranches. Participants will also be offered tours of Big Horn County Historical Museum and the JailHouse Gallery in Hardin, Chief Plenty Coups State Park and Museum near Pryor, the Custer Battlefield Museum in Garryowen, and the Yellowstone Art Museum, Yellowstone County Museum and the Western Heritage Center in Billings.

“The Gather” is held in a different city around the country every year and Diana Scheidt, Executive Director of the Big Horn County Historical Museum, is thrilled that the event has come to Hardin.

“It’s a great opportunity for members of the Will James Society to see the area where he lived and worked for the last 15 years of his life,” says Scheidt. “We’re also looking forward to showing the participants all the other great attractions around Hardin. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument and the museums we’ll be visiting deserve to be shown off, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

On Saturday evening, Sept. 19, there will be a Cowboy Supper in downtown Hardin, featuring entertainment by Home Town Sound and Montana Melodies, a presentation of Will James Books and both silent and live auctions.

For anyone who has ever read one of Will James’ books this is a great opportunity to learn more about the man whose life took lots of unusual turns before the road led him to his dream of owning a ranch in Montana. For those unfamiliar with his work, it’s a chance to introduce yourself to the man, his works, and his colorful life.

All events are open to the public but admission is charged for some activities and require preregistration due to limited space.

For more information about the events, visit http://www.WillJames.org or call the Big Horn County Historical Museum at 406-665-1671.