By Shannon Johnson
Born on March 23, 1923 the Roan Polled Short Breed cow, dubbed “Steer Montana” was born on a ranch just east of Baker. Steer Montana grew to be an exceptional cow, with a height of 5’9”, a length of 10’4”, and a girth of 9’2”. He weighed in at a whopping 3,980 pounds. He lived to be 15 years and 4 months.
When the death of Steer Montana came, his owner strung the carcass up on a windmill to strip the carcass and have his hide preserved and mounted. Steer Montana traveled the road, being exhibited at both fairs and rodeos.
After being lost for some period, Steer Montana was found in Billings, Mont. For $5,000, Steer Montana was able to be purchased and taken back to his roots in Baker, where he was displayed at Heiser’s Bar before being donated to the O’Fallon Historical Museum by Bernard Heiser.
Today Steer Montana finds his forever home in the main room of the O’Fallon Historical Museum in a large glass display case, with his skeletons displayed in the annex.
The O’Fallon Historical Museum held an event to celebrate Steer Montana’s 96th birthday, March 23. “It was like a birthday party spa day for Steer Montana,” laughed Melissa Rost, the Museum Curator.
Along with cake and coffee that was enjoyed by the public in celebration of his birthday, Jenn Hall of the Carter County Museum came down to do some taxidermy work on him. “Jenn Hall began working on taxidermy and taking classes in Los Angeles at Prey Taxidermy. She volunteered at Moore Lab of Zoology at Occidental College training under their head taxidermist. She is currently working on her master’s degree in Museum Studies and works at the Carter County Museum as their Marketing Communications Coordinator and resident artist and also does taxidermy restoration there,” explained Rost.
Hall cleaned up the newly 96-year-old and repaired cracked and exposed skin. All the work that was done on Steer Montana is both professional and reversible. The public was able to come in and see the work that Hall was doing, a great learning experience for those who have never been around taxidermy.
Steer Montana brought a lot of attention to Eastern Montana, and at the ripe age of 96 his display continues to attract both tourists and locals. “He’s like our main attraction,” explained Rost.