Lance Kalfell and Michael Bugenstein began working on “Since the Days
of the Buffalo: A History of Eastern Montana and the Kalfell Ranch” in 2009.
By Kay Johnson
A four-year collaborative effort between map maker Michael Bugenstein and local rancher Lance Kalfell culminated this year with the release of “Since the Days of the Buffalo: A History of Eastern Montana and the Kalfell Ranch”. The 150-page-plus book offers readers a broad perspective of life in Eastern Montana beginning in the early homesteading years.
“It’s intended as a comprehensive history of Eastern Montana, with Terry and the Kalfell Ranch as the primary focus,” said Bugenstein.
Interspersed with articles from newspapers around the area, historical photographs and legal documents, the book’s nine chapters recount life in Eastern Montana — recalling forces and events not only influencing the Kalfell family, but all those who chose to live in the region.
“There’s nothing out there that really concentrates on Eastern Montana,” said Bugenstein of the project, which began as a small manuscript for the Kalfell family.
Bugenstein and Kalfell first met in 2008 at a trade show in Glendive. After completing contract mapping work of the Kalfell ranch, located west of Terry and has been in operation since 1882, Lance approached Bugenstein about helping to compile a historical document for the family. As Bugenstein researched, he became convinced that the work would be well suited as a broader historical book. With some arm-twisting he persuaded Kalfell to take part in the endeavor.
“I hadn’t set out to publish a book for public consumption,” Kalfell explained. “That wasn’t my initial intent.”
The two agreed to compile two books — one geared specifically for the family and another for the public, comprised of historical happenings occurring in the area while using the Kalfell family as a focal point.
“It puts a face to it,” said Kalfell of the book highlighting his family’s history in the area. “It makes the book a little more interesting as you go along.”
The book includes accounts of tribal and military, ranching and homesteading history, early railroading and outlaw history, as well as recounting Gottlieb Kalfell’s arrival to Eastern Montana in the 1880’s with family highlights as they faced challenges ranching in the area.
“Since the Days of the Buffalo: A History of Eastern Montana and the Kalfell Ranch” is available locally at Prairie Unique, as well as online at Amazon.com. A booksigning will take place April 26 at the Glendive Public Library from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.