Legacy of the Land: Philanthropist’s book project helps preserve heritage of Paradise Valley
In Fall 2017, Arthur Blank, businessman and owner of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United, commissioned a history project focused on his family’s Mountain Sky Guest Ranch and West Creek Ranch, located in Paradise Valley. The project was intended to preserve and chronicle the rich history of the ranches and was turned into a book, Legacy
of the Land, written by Sarah Grigg and photographed by Arnica Spring Rae, both of Bozeman.
Blank purchased Mountain Sky nearly two decades ago “after falling in love with the land, the people and the wildlife during many memorable family vacations.”
The team set out to write and produce a story that avoided Hollywood tropes about “Cowboys and Indians.” They aimed to offer the most truthful version of history they could, as told through the players themselves or their descendants, and to honor the struggles that so many on the Montana stage endured.
“The narratives in the pages that lie ahead represent our best attempt at capturing and preserving the rich history and characters linked to Paradise Valley – from the Native American tribes that hunted its river banks to the pioneers and homesteaders who created the first cattle camps in the late 19th century,” writes Blank of the book.
The story of these two ranches in the Paradise Valley carried the team into the lives of people from Sheridan, WY, to Crow Country; from Pray to the heart of the Blackfeet Nation; from the basement of the Yellowstone Heritage Center in Gardiner to the digital archives of the Smithsonian Institution.
The project took 10 months to produce and then another eight months of post-production. The result is a 294-page coffee table book detailing a 500-million-year ranch history which includes geology and natural history, Native American history, the homestead era, the dude ranch years and the story of the ranches today. The team collaborated with more than 150 museums, private collections, artists, essayists and individuals to pull together the final project.
Copies of the book are available for ranch guests at Mountain Sky and West Creek as well as several local institutions, including: Gallatin History Museum in Bozeman, Montana State University Library Special Collections and Archives, Yellowstone Gateway Museum in Livingston, Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center in Gardiner, Montana Historical Society in Helena, and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody.
Learn more at www.sarah-grigg.com.