Plentywood, the county seat for Sheridan County, is the trading center for the people living in the extreme northeastern corner of the state. The people around Plentywood have experienced prosperity, drought, and starvation—and prosperity and drought again. The economy has been boosted in recent years by oil exploration. The post office opened in 1902, the Great Northern Railway surveyed a route through the area in 1911 and two years later the Dakota and Great Northern Townsite Company platted the town. The residents mark 1912 as the town’s birth. This land, once prime hunting grounds for the Assiniboines, free pasture for the big cattle outfits, and after a fight, grazing land for sheep; succumbed in the early 1900s to the homesteader’s plow.(from Cheney’s Names on the Face of Montana, Mountain Press Publishing Company)
In the early days, a cattle outfit driving across the treeless prairie met a couple of riders coming from the other direction. They asked if there was any place around where they found find water and firewood for a campsite. The cattlemen were told to keep going ahead for a mile or two and they would find “plenty wood” as there was a growth of small timber along the bank of a creek at the point where the town now stands.(from Cheney’s Names on the Face of Montana, Mountain Press Publishing Company)
At the site of present-day Plentywood, Sitting Bull and his Sioux people surrendered to the U.S. Army after living in Canada for five years. The Outlaw Trail crossed into Canada north of Plentywood. Rustlers moved their stolen cattle and horses along this passage across the border. Butch Cassidy named the trail and established a rest station in the Big Muddy Valley, west of Plentywood. At the turn of the century, the gulches around Plentywood harbored every manner of outlaw. This area was the Old West legend.
After 1910, homesteaders began claiming the territory and things calmed down. Historical accounts are available in promotional pieces in Scobey and Plentywood, and local libraries can assist you. The Sheridan County Museum was completed in 1968 to capture and preserve some of the historical flavor, fashions and fixtures of Sheridan County’s early days. And in conjunction with the Sheridan County Museum and Civic Center completed in 1983, Sheridan County has provided a wonderful and entertaining look into the past.
Thirty-one miles south of Plentywood lies the picturesque Brush Lake State Park. It is a deep, clear lake with white, sandy beaches surrounded by grass fields and linear stands of spring wheat. A little further south of Plentywood is the Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge where thousands of migrating waterfowl make their summer home.