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WSJ | In One of Montana’s Priciest Deals, a 30,000-Acre Cattle Ranch Sells for Over $50 Million

May 17, 2024
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A longtime ranch owner purchased the Meagher County property from the Doggett family, who owned the land for more than 100 years.


After more than 100 years in the same family, a Montana cattle ranch has sold for more than $50 million. The deal is one of the priciest to close in the state in recent years.

Steve Rooney, a longtime ranch owner who made his money in the oil and gas pipeline industry, bought the roughly 30,000-acre ranch from the Doggett family, who started assembling the ranch in the early 1900s.

Jock and Jamie Doggett put the Meagher County ranch on the market less than a year ago for $58.75 million. Rooney, who hails from Chippewa Falls, Wis., said he plans to continue running the property as a cattle operation, raising and selling Angus bulls. Some of the roughly 1,800 head of cattle on the ranch will be sent back to Wisconsin to a meat-processing plant operated by his son, he said. He also plans to build another house on the property for his family, he said.

The property includes about 1,800 head of cattle. Photo: Swan Land Company

Rooney sold his company, Precision Pipeline, to infrastructure company MasTec in 2009 and now consults in the industry. Rooney, who sold the famed Diamond Tail Ranch in Colorado for $46.9 million earlier this year, said he has always had a passion for agriculture. In addition to ranches, he has owned dairy and elk farms and a soybean operation in Wisconsin. He spends about six to eight weeks a year ranching, between the summers in Wisconsin and the winters in Jupiter, Fla., he said.

“I’ve always been intrigued by the Western lifestyle,” he said. “I like to ride my horse and work the cattle. I like to help with the hay. I’m working on some irrigation ditches right now. I’m a hands-on kind of guy.”

His newly purchased ranch is located between the Little and Big Belt Mountain ranges, about 30 minutes’ drive from White Sulphur Springs and about two hours from Bozeman. The property was featured in Ivan Doig’s 1978 memoir “This House of Sky.”

The ranch is about 30,000 acres. Photo: Swan Land Company

The ranch includes three residences. There is the Yellow House, which is 2,400 square feet with four bedrooms; the White House, a roughly 2,300-square-foot, four-bedroom house dating to 1917; and Mom’s House, a four-bedroom, roughly 2,700-square-foot home built in 1959. A creek runs through the ranch for over 7.5 miles and there are two reservoirs.

The Doggetts couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. When he listed the ranch, Jock Doggett said he wanted to sell to someone who would continue the ranching tradition at a time when wealthy out-of-towners are buying up ranches in the area for recreational purposes.

“The community is rapidly changing, but for the most part there is still a Mayberry aspect to it,” he said at the time, referencing the fictional community in “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Rooney was represented in the sale by Ryan Flair of Hall and Hall, while Mike Swan and Tim Anderson of Swan Land Company represented Doggett.

 


 

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