Melrose was the supply center for a prosperous mining district, especially after the railroad arrived in 1881. Rich mines at Hecla and the smelter at Glendale ordered goods shipped to the Melrose depot, and at the height of the silver boom, a hundred horses arrived in Melrose each day, delivering ore from the smelter in "big-wheeled, ten-ton wagons, drawn by six to eight horses." Among the many teamsters who lived in Melrose was Norwegian immigrant Oscar Wold, who in 1900 advertised his "heavy teaming" service to haul "engines, pumps, boilers, and heavy machinery … to and from [the] station." By 1900, Wold may have received more jobs transporting equipment out of the district than into it; the smelter at Glendale closed in 1900 and by 1904, most mining had ceased. Small-scale operations continued to hire freighters, however, and sometime between 1906 and 1914, Wold constructed this barn to house his horses and, perhaps, as a boarding stable for area ranchers delivering wool and cattle to the railhead. The two-story structure is a well-preserved example of a Mountain Horse Barn—a barn type that originated in the Big Hole and Beaverhead Valleys. Its first story, built of hand-hewed, square-notched logs, reflects traditional Scandinavian building techniques and the work of a highly skilled craftsman. The wood-frame second story provided ample storage for the hay needed to feed horses through the long, cold winters. The large barn, situated two blocks from Main Street, suggests Montanans' continuing dependence on horses, long after the invention of the automobile.
The Montana National Register Sign Program
Southwest corner of intersection of Helcla and Third Streets, Melrose, Montana
Silver Bow county