The Madison County Economic Development Council plans to submit a proposal to the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame Board of Directors to build the hall and Western Heritage Center here in Madison County.
The county stands a good chance to make the short list of potential locations for multiple reasons, said Sam Korsmoe, executive director for MCEDC.
“We are a natural fit because we’re kind of where it all started,” Korsmoe explained.
Before the discovery of gold in Alder Gulch in 1863, there were not many cowboys, cattle or sheep in Montana, Korsmoe said. Once word got out, gold miners seeking their fortune flooded the area, and the result is history.
“What followed that, in order to feed those miners, was ranching, cowboys and the cowboy way of life,” Korsmoe continued. “In a way we can almost argue that Madison County in particular is sort of the birth of the state of Montana, because of the gold strike in Alder Gulch.”
Madison County is perfectly located to house the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame because of its year-round tourist economy and proximity to the National Park system.
“People will drive through Madison County to get to another place,” Korsmoe added. “Not only do we have tourists coming through here, but we have a very significant summer population that has consistently been very generous and very positive towards community projects.”
The biggest issue currently facing the MCEDC’s proposal is land. Preliminary plans for the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center requires approximately 30 acres for the facility. The vision is for an outdoor campus with different buildings for western heritage, cowboys and ranching.
Korsmoe has considered suggestions from around the community on where the center should be located, but worries Madison County won’t make the short list without specifically addressing the land issue in the proposal.
However, he’s confident the proposal will receive serious consideration because of Madison County’s strong reputation for getting things done.
“We can take on a project as a community and we can get it done, and not a lot of communities can do that,” Korsmoe said. “If we make the short list, they’ll come out and see how beautiful this place is and hopefully we’ll get selected.”
Potential locations have until Sept. 29 to submit proposals, at which time the board of directors will review a short list of candidates before finalizing the location in November.