Doncaster/Bayers Barn 2009

Built as a race-horse barn about 1884 at Twin Bridges, Montana.

The perimeter was divided into box stalls that each opened to the outside into small paddocks, providing outside exercise for each horse. Inside doors provided access to the track inside the barn. Chutes came down from the second story that hay was introduced into each stall. The design is very unique. A windmill on top pumped water from a well to a holding tank, then gravity-fed to each stall.

The second level held 50-tons of hay and 12,000-bu. of grain, plus Armstrong’s office. There was a continuous track around the center section of the ground level where the horses were exercised, and Armstrong could stand at the rail above and watch his horses being trained, during the winter. At an altitude of 4,600-ft. Twin Bridges, winter was extremely cold and very long. Trainers reasoned that horses raised and trained at higher altitude gave them more lung capacity than competitive horses.

The circular center portion of the ground level contained small rooms equipped with beds to accommodate a couple of trainers, a veterinary stall, and an office.

Horse racing was big business in those days and almost every mining town had their own track and plenty of gamblers to finance them. One of the famous Butte Copper Kings, Marcus Daly, had a 22,000-acre ranch at Hamilton, Montana, where he kept a herd of 1,200 head of horses. They ran in these mining camp races as well as big time races across the nation.

This barn is quite a landmark, and a glimpse of a by-gone era.

© Bill Carroll 2017