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Swan Land Properties
High-Quality Recreational Ranch
Fergus County


  • Lewistown, Montana

  • 1,360 Deeded

  • $2,750,000

Wildlife, privacy, a crystal-clear spring creek, and expansive views – this is McCartney Springs Mountain Ranch.

Nestled in the heart of the tranquil Big Snowy Mountain Range in a prominent location on the Alaska Bench, approximately 26 miles south of Lewistown in central Montana, the Ranch is comprised of approximately 1,360± deeded contiguous acres of varied topography consisting of healthy coniferous forests, gently sloping grassy hillsides, lush creek-bottom land, and high-mountain pasture.  McCartney Creek cascades through the property while the elk and deer find cover in the shade of the forest and cattle graze the native pasture under the vast Montana skies. The Ranch offers all the resources required for the personal enjoyment of a safe and quiet lifestyle far from the crowds of metropolitan America.  McCartney Springs Mountain Ranch provides a rare opportunity to own an exceptional recreational ranch in one of the Big Sky State’s most beautiful and pristine settings.

The Ranch is rich in wildlife and recreational resources that make it well-suited for a quiet seasonal retreat.  Additionally, it is apparent that the current owners have conservatively managed the Ranch to ensure healthy stands of native forage.  The remarkable condition of the range land is the product of years of careful stewardship from the family who originally homesteaded in the 1920s.  McCartney Creek provides consistent year-round water through the canyon and meadows along the riparian corridor.  The pastures above the creek bottom are well watered by a stock tank supplied by a reliable well.

The absence of improvements or conservation easements on the Ranch provides the next owner with a blank canvas to enjoy the Ranch without unnecessary encumbrances.  The Ranch is a must-see for buyers who are interested in purchasing a high-quality recreational ranch that provides small-stream fishing, hunting opportunities, and the quiet enjoyment of the serenity of the mountains.


McCartney Springs Mountain Ranch is positioned approximately 26 miles south of Lewistown, the geographic center of Montana, in the heart of the Big Snowy Mountains.  Access is south from Lewistown on State Highway 238/Red Hill Road, to the junction of the Alaska Bench Road.  Red Hill Road is paved from town for approximately 10 miles with the remainder as a gravel road.  The Ranch is approximately 8 miles south and east on Alaska Bench Road with access to the Ranch directly off of the county road.  Alaska Bench Road is not maintained in the winter and therefore the Ranch has seasonal access.  The next owner could utilize off-road vehicles and snowmobiles to extend access should they desire.

The county seat of Fergus County – Lewistown, with a population of approximately 5,900, offers all the necessary amenities and services of a small rural town.  Lewistown provides grocery stores, sporting-goods stores, clothing and specialty shops, coffee bars, fine dining, arts and crafts, machinery dealerships, and appliance and furniture stores along the tree-lined streets of the revitalized historic downtown.  In close proximity to downtown just off of Main Street, the Calvert Hotel, built in 1872, provides fine lodging with a historic and elegant ambiance. Outstanding medical care is available at the Central Montana Medical Center (CMMC) in Lewistown, which offers a full-expertise range of physicians and consulting specialty doctors in partnership with the Billings Clinic.

The Lewistown Municipal Airport (LWT) is located two miles southwest of Lewistown and is served by Newton Aviation, Central Air Service, and Gulf Stream International Airline.  The main 6,100′ x 100′ asphalt runway, which is lighted, is in good condition.  The airport sits at an elevation of 4,170′ above sea level and can be contacted on CTAF frequency 123.0 and WX ASOS 118.375 or by telephone at (406) 538-2653.

The Ranch is approximately a two-hour drive from two commercial airports – Great Falls and Billings, both of which offer good private FBOs.  Commercial carriers at the Great Falls International Airport, including Alaska, Allegiant, Delta, and United Airlines, offer direct flights to seven destinations.

Billings Logan International Airport also provides a variety of commercial carriers as well as national and limited international service through Allegiant, Alaska, Delta, Cape Air, Frontier, American Airlines, and United to several major cities including Denver, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Minneapolis as well as others.

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is approximately three hours from the Ranch providing additional opportunities for airline access through Delta, United, Alaska, Allegiant, America, Frontier, Sun Country Airlines, and Jet Blue.

Additionally, the flat topography of the Ranch pasture could potentially support a small private airstrip for suitable off-airport aircraft should the next owner desire.

Approximate distances to other Montana cities and points of interest from McCartney Springs Mountain Ranch:

Great Falls
26 miles
82 miles
130 miles
150 miles
187 miles
219 miles


McCartney Springs Mountain Ranch consists of approximately 1,360 total acres of which approximately 756± acres are in native and improved mountain pasture with the remaining 604± acres in timber.  The acreage is generally classified as follows:

Deeded Acreage & Creek Frontage

•    756± Acres of Native Range and Pasture
•    604± Acres of Mountain Timber
•    1.5± miles of McCartney Creek Frontage

The Ranch is well watered with McCartney Creek, numerous springs, a small section of Holt Creek, and a stock tank filled via a well.  Good water is accessible to livestock within half a mile in any of the pastures.  McCartney Creek, which originates just upstream from the Ranch, provides live water for livestock and wildlife throughout the year.

The improvements on the Ranch are nonexistent – providing the next owner the opportunity to create their own retreat.  Reliable power is currently run to the stock tank to power the well pump.  There are several old homestead buildings on the property providing charm and character honoring the homestead and ranching history.

Currently, the Sellers lease the pasture ground for summer and fall grazing to a local area rancher from June through early November for approximately 60-80 cow-calf pairs on a year-to-year lease.  For many decades the Sellers ran 100-125 pairs plus bulls on the bench.  As the lease is set up on a per-AUM basis, the potential for additional income may be possible if additional cattle are run.  The Sellers have also leased the hunting rights to a local area outfitter on a year-to-year basis.  The leases could be negotiated by the new owners should they desire to keep them in place.


McCartney Springs Mountain Ranch ranges in elevation from approximately 5,560′ above sea level along the north boundary to approximately 5,123′ along the creek bottom.  The majority of the mountain pasture sits at approximately 5,360′ in elevation.

On average, there are 196 sunny days per year in Lewistown, Montana.  The July high is around 80°F with an average July low of around 48°F.  The January high averages are 26°F with an average low of 14°F.  The average annual rainfall is 16″ with the majority in June and snowfall of 72″ with the majority falling in March.  The Alaska Bench area typically receives even more moisture and often remains green throughout the summer season.

The Ranch itself provides multiple options for recreation without ever leaving the property – hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and relaxing.  However, one of the many appeals to living in Montana is its multitude of readily accessible outdoor recreational opportunities.  The Ranch sits in the Big Snowy Mountains providing easy access to explore more territory.  About 112,000 acres of the Big Snowies are roadless, the bulk of this in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, as well as 6,870 acres in the Twin Coulees Wilderness Study Area on adjacent BLM land.  Greathouse Peak is the highest point in the range at 8,681 feet above sea level.  On a clear day, the view from the top of the peak extends from Canada to Yellowstone. World-class fly fishing can be enjoyed from the multitude of spring creeks, rivers, and lakes in the region.  The blue-ribbon water of Big Spring Creek, which flows through Lewistown, sustains a strong population of rainbow and brown trout.  Big Spring Creek is one of the largest freshwater springs in the United States.  It originates southeast of Lewistown and provides devoted anglers with 26 miles of pristine water to enjoy.  Other water-based recreation is available in the area on Crystal Lake, the Judith River, the Missouri River, and Fort Peck Lake. Hunting opportunities for big game and upland birds abound in the area including elk, mule deer, antelope, bear, mountain lion, turkey, pheasant, mountain grouse, prairie grouse, and   Hungarian partridge.

Historically during the summer and fall months, nearby towns celebrate Montana’s culture with fairs, festivals, and rodeos.

The town of Stanford unites in mid-July at the Russell County Fairgrounds for the C.M. Russell Stampede, which includes a PRCA rodeo, street-dance entertainment, an art auction, and a barbecue.  The first Saturday after Labor Day, Lewistown ushers in the fall with the annual Choke Cherry Festival which is attended by over 5,000 from near and far to enjoy live entertainment, food vendors, and craft booths.

McCartney Springs Mountain Ranch hosts an exceptional variety of wildlife.  Elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, antelope, and black bear frequent the property to take advantage of the excellent cover, food, and abundant water.  The Ranch would make an outstanding hunting retreat especially if managed for this opportunity.  A tree stand is currently in place on the property at an intersection of game trails above the creek meadows speaking to the quantity of the game in the area. Recently a large winter-kill elk rack was found on the Ranch with a Boone & Crockett score of 377.  Additionally, McCartney Creek sustains a population of brook trout that provide a private mountain-stream fly-fishing experience.  Located in hunting district 411, the general elk tag allows for antlerless elk harvest.  Hunters may also apply for an optional elk tag draw for bulls and general tags for deer.  Elk frequent the Ranch in the spring during calving season and again in both bow and rifle season affording multiple options for hunter success.  According to the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the area elk herd is very healthy and currently over objective for wildlife managers as the herd numbers have been increasing.


Live water is the lifeblood of a property and there is no shortage of water on McCartney Springs Mountain Ranch.  McCartney Creek is the heart of the Ranch with close to 1.5 miles of meandering creek frontage.  The headwaters of McCartney Creek is just upstream of the Ranch on an adjacent property where springs bubble up from the ground forming the creek.  Numerous additional springs on the Ranch add to the water volume of the creek and provide additional water sources for wildlife and livestock.  In addition to McCartney Creek and springs, Holt Creek, a small mountain stream, crosses a corner of the Ranch as well.

A thoughtfully positioned well and stock tank in the pasture provide additional water for livestock and are accessible by several cross-fenced pasture areas.

According to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Water Rights Division, the Ranch owns the following water right:

Claim Number
40B 112273 00 2000 Groundwater Stock Well

All water rights in Montana are subject to eventual re-adjudication by the Montana Water Court and, as a result of that process, may be changed as to the validity, amount, priority date, place of use, and other such changes as the Court determines.  The Seller has made all of the filings currently required and will transfer the water rights as they currently stand with no warranty of future viability. All water rights appurtenant to and for the benefit of the Ranch will be conveyed to the Buyer at the closing of a sale.

With no improvements on the Ranch, the next owner is free to create their own retreat on the open canvas that the Ranch provides.

Electricity is currently provided on the Ranch by Fergus Electric Cooperative in Lewistown.  Cell service with Verizon Wireless and Mid-Rivers Communications is available at many locations on the Ranch.


The Ranch has several perimeter fences and cross fences in place that appear to be in good condition.  The Seller hereby makes known that there may be variations between the deeded property lines and the location of the existing fence boundary lines on McCartney Springs Mountain Ranch.  The Seller makes no warranties with regard to the location of the fence lines in relationship to the deeded property lines, nor does the Seller make any warranties or representations with regard to the specific acreage within the fenced property lines.

The Seller is selling McCartney Springs Mountain Ranch in its “as is-where is” condition which includes the location of the fences as they now exist.  Boundaries shown on any accompanying maps are approximate.  The maps are not to scale and are for visual aid only.  The accuracy of the maps and information portrayed thereon is not guaranteed nor warranted.

The real estate taxes for 2019 were approximately $1,454.49.


Prior to settlement, the area that is now Lewistown was once the territory of the Blackfoot Native Americans and was a crossroad for the Crow, Nez Perce, and Sioux Indians on their hunting and raiding expeditions. The richness of spring creeks, rivers, and wild game in the area created an ideal trading ground.  In 1874, Fort Lewis was established there by Company “F” of the 7th U.S. Infantry to provide military protection for people traveling on the Carroll Trail, then the shortest route between Carroll, Montana, and Helena. Lewistown is named after this fort.

Chief Joseph and his band of Nez Perce Indians traveled through the region in 1877, but the area did not begin to see significant settlement until 1879 when a group of Metis traveling in their “Red River Carts” began to settle the area that came to be known as Lewistown.  Francis A. Janeaux, a French Canadian licensed trader married to a Metis woman, built a trading post at what is today Third Avenue North and Broadway Street in Lewistown.  Many historians credit Janeaux, with being the founder of Lewistown.

Realizing the need to educate the children of the growing community, Janeaux opened a log schoolhouse in 1881.  By 1883, the population had grown to a point where the school needed to expand and Janeaux donated a parcel of his own land to construct a framed schoolhouse.

The discovery of gold in the western states had a significant influence on many of the early settlements and Lewistown was no exception.  Gold was discovered in the nearby Judith Mountains during the early 1880s, bringing throngs of prospectors and settlers to the Fergus County region.  For many years, this area was known as the best gold country in Montana.  With the population growth of Central Montana and the ongoing Indian conflicts, the U.S. Army established Fort Maginnis, an Army Cavalry post, in the early 1880s.  During the period around 1883, it was apparent that the ranchers were gaining a foothold with the Indians on the range.  However, the young braves established wealth, prestige, and manhood within their tribe by stealing horses.  For the ranchers, this became a major irritation and financial drain.

According to the journals of James Fergus:

Despite the fact that we had to carry guns on our mowing machines, hay wagons and everywhere we went, we managed to accomplish the necessary work to keep the ranch going.

Robert M. Horne, “James Fergus – Frontier Businessman – Miner – Rancher – Free Thinker” –  page 136.

By 1884 the cattlemen of the region realized that an organization was needed to promote their interests both politically and among ranchers.  Fergus played an instrumental role in the creation of the Montana Stock Growers Association and remained active in the organization until his death.

The cattle industry was becoming a major industry in Central Montana, grass was plentiful and water was abundant – Fergus County was for many years a leading cattle-producing county in the western United States and continues to hold the reputation of consisting of some of the best agricultural land in Montana.

McCartney Springs Mountain Ranch will be an attractive option for the individual desirous of a very private and scenic recreational hunting and fishing ranch in a mountain setting.  The Ranch provides its next owner with all of the amenities to create a private retreat in one of Montana’s premier ranching and recreational areas.

Those who have tracked ranch values in Central Montana for the past several years will find the offering price of the Ranch to be very competitive in today’s market.  Offered at about $2,022 per deeded acre, this is truly a value buy in today’s active recreational real estate market.

McCartney Springs Mountain Ranch has it all with exceptional wildlife resources, live water, healthy forest, native pasture, and unspoiled expansive vistas.  Offered for sale for the first time since the current family homesteaded the property in the 1920s, the Ranch will provide the next fortunate owner with a wonderful mountain paradise to enjoy and pass down as a legacy family retreat.



McCartney Springs Mountain Ranch, as Previously Described Herein, is offered at $2,750,000.  The Conditions of Sale Are as Follows:

  1. All offers to purchase must be in writing and accompanied by an earnest money deposit check in the amount of 3.00% of the Purchaser’s offering price;
  2. Each offer must also be accompanied with the name and telephone number of the Purchaser’s private banker to assist the Sellers and their agents in ascertaining the Purchaser’s financial ability to consummate a purchase;
  3. All Purchasers must demonstrate to the Seller’s satisfaction unquestioned financial capability to purchase the Ranch prior to scheduling an inspection;
  4. Earnest money deposits will be placed in escrow with First American Title Company of Lewistown, which will then place the funds with local banks at nominal rates of interest accruing to the Purchaser’s benefit until Closing;
  5. The Sellers will provide and pay for a standard owner’s title insurance policy.  Title to the real property will be conveyed by warranty deed;
  6. All of the Ranch’s water rights will be transferred to the Purchaser;
  7. Buyers’ Brokers Are Welcome and Cordially Invited to Contact Mike Swan or Steve Leibinger for Information Regarding Cooperation Policies and Commission Splits.


The Sellers reserve the right to effect a tax-deferred exchange for other real property in accordance with provisions in Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code.  The Buyer will not be required to incur any additional expenses nor to step into the chain of title on any property which the Seller may acquire.

This entire Offering is subject to errors, omissions, prior sale, change, or withdrawal without notice and approval of purchase by the Sellers.  Information regarding land classifications, acreages, carrying capacities, crop yields, potential profits, hunting districts and regulations, etc., are intended only as general guidelines and have been obtained from sources deemed reliable; however, accuracy is not warranted or guaranteed by the Sellers or Swan Land Company.  Prospective Buyers should verify all information to their sole and complete satisfaction.


A 48-hour notice is requested to make proper arrangements for an inspection of McCartney Springs Mountain Ranch.

Swan Land Company has been authorized by the Seller to act as their Exclusive Real Estate Broker on the sale of McCartney Springs Mountain Ranch.  Since 2002, we have focused on the brokerage of significant ranches, farms, and recreational properties throughout the Rocky Mountain West.

This Offering is based on information believed to be correct; however, it is subject to errors, omissions, prior sale, and change or withdrawal without notice.  Information contained herein has been provided by the Sellers or obtained from other sources deemed reliable.  The Agent does not, however, guarantee accuracy and recommends that any Prospective Buyer conduct an independent investigation.

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Stephen Leibinger
With deep family roots in Montana’s ranching history, I inherited a natural affinity for the state’s exceptional lifestyle and unparalleled outdoor recreation opportunities. After graduating with honors from the University of Wyoming, I pursued my love of fly-fishing and ultimately settled in Bozeman where I founded a successful fly-fishing guiding and outfitting business. My extensive ...
Meet the Broker
Swan Agent, Stephen Leibinger

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