Bair’s Little 5 in Bozeman…


August 2014

Anybody from the Bozeman area remember this motel? Where it was? When it closed? Who owned it? Anything you might know would be appreciated.

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46 thoughts on “Bair’s Little 5 in Bozeman…

    • According to my parents, years ago there was a Bairs Truck Stop with a motel attached near the Belgrade, Montana exit. Not certain what is there now, could be a Holiday Express.

  1. So…does the picture represent the climax of a Saturday night in Montana? I’ve never been there. If so…SIGN ME UP! Just kidding. There should be a (larger) bubble caption where “the dude” is thinking, “What if this is as good as it gets?” 🙂

  2. Reminds me of Forrest’s story about having to bathe in a tin tub while in the cabin in West Yellowstone. Funny ad! 🙂

    • That’s a good find Raven..I suspect that means some enterprising young salesperson sold that idea as an advertisement to several hotels in Montana…probably one hotel/motel per city could use that particular cartoon..

  3. Under the picture with the heading “Location” three blocks have 5, 6, 7……this reminds me of one of FF stories where he gives 3 numbers consecutively and says “I can’t remember which.” I have forgotten which story but think it was in the TOTC.

  4. Just finished splitting the first 2 cords of firewood for the winter – I’ll settle for a bath like that or any type right now.

    • I’ve been thinking about that, too, Amy. Do you think Forrest organized all the items in the chest in separate ziploc bags? Or just the dragon bracelet? I’m thinking there’s more than one ziploc bag inside and the entire bronze box is sitting inside a watertight pelican case…maybe even with desiccants inside. Just a thought. I don’t know. The ziplocs certainly make sense though.

      • The pelican case is a great protective solution and sounds a bit like Forrest “closing his tackle box.” But I would rather see the c1150 Romanesque chest, wouldn’t you?

        • Hi Sissel, I would love to see the Romanesque chest, too. I just don’t want to scratch it with my shovel. LOL! …like I’ll ever have to worry about that! 🙂 I suppose I have many more realistic things to worry about.

  5. OK it just me or is 5, 6, and 7 coming up in a lot of comments? It has been a long week but it seems so to me. Does anybody else think so too?

  6. Dang! It sure doesn’t hurt to have big ears. I knew that one day they’d become helpful. I may have to use more soap in the tub because of them, but, hey, I’m smiling!

  7. I’m sure this family must be related in some way to that Motel….I just cannot make the connection yet…..

    Near the confluence of the North and South Forks of the Musselshell River, the Charles M. Bair Family Museum stands as a tribute to the early day sheepman C.M. Bair. His daughters, Marguerite and Alberta, gathered the treasures of the family in a museum to tell their story and dedicated it to the people of Montana and the nation. In July, the doors will open for a new building on the grounds to house the unique treasures of Western artists Charles Russell and Joseph H. Sharp, photographer Edward Curtis, and the unique Plains Indian collection. Copies of the art works will be in the museum proper to continue the Bair Family story as the Bair sisters designed.

    Charles M. Bair came to Montana in 1883 as a conductor on the railroad, but he soon changed his occupation to rancher. In the course of a few years he was raising sheep in the Lavina area and moved to Billings. A fortuitous trip to the Klondike during the gold rush and a 10-year lease on the Crow Reservation made him the largest sheep raiser in the country. One of his many acquisitions was the Martinsdale ranch where he made his Montana headquarters and where the family moved permanently in 1932.

    While leasing land on the Crow Reservation, Bair was one of Joseph Sharp’s best customers. Sharp and his wife, Addie, had come to Crow Agency in the summer of 1899. Sharp was drawn by the culture of the Crows, the proximity to Custer battlefield, and a great desire to paint the Plains Indians. He was busy working on an order from Phoebe Hearst, widow of Senator George Hearst and mother of William Randolph Hearst, for paintings to hang in a memorial building for Senator Hearst at the University of California.

    Sharp also depicted Charlie’s “favorite fishing hole.” He painted two still lifes of apples; Bair promptly bought one and gave it to the Reynolds Family. Sharp had used Carrie Reynolds’ “butter bowl” in the one Bair kept for himself.

    Bair bought work from his friend Charlie Russell early in the century. Sometimes in California, Bair, Russell, Curtis, actor Tom Mix, and others, gathered to share stories of their years in the West. These were good stories—good memories.

    Another artist, photographer, Edward Curtis, took pictures on the Reservation, and Bair bought the Crow folios from him to help finance his work. Curtis had embarked upon a project of capturing the Indian nations on film and his depiction of the Crows was exceptional. These excellent pictures of the Crow will be shown in the protected atmosphere of the new building, while some copies will continue to be shown in the house.

    Years after the Crow project, Curtis had a studio in California at the Biltmore when Bair and his family spent the winters there. When Alberta complained that her father wouldn’t sit for a photograph, Curtiss told her to bring her father and Charlie Russell down to the studio and he would catch both of them. Those two photographs are on the mantel in the Pine Room at Martinsdale.

    Curtis was also a member of the party that escorted the French Ambassador and his wife to visit the Crow Reservation. The couple arrived in Billings for a one-day stopover en route from San Francisco to Washington and was to be shown something of the country and the resources and industries. The program called for a stop at the shearing pens at Kaiser where Bair’s sheep were being sheared. They were then to go to Pryor so that the guests could learn something about the Indians. Bair had arranged for a big welcome.

    Two hundred Indians in full war paint and regalia, filling the air with war whoops and gunfire, descended upon the cars and surrounded them. As the Indians circled the cars—a tremendous show!, Bair beamed with satisfaction and turned to accept the reactions of his guests, only to find them panic-stricken on the floor of the car.

    A large picture by Ken Ralston was commissioned in 1951 by the Bair sisters to hang in the new Office Room over the bar. The painting was to commemorate Charlie Bair’s negotiating with the Crows. When it was delivered, Marguerite had him take it back to Billings and add “some red,” the color of the new carpet in the room. Ralston added a red blanket on one of the Indians—and then, with a smile undoubtedly, added red hair to the cowboy. The Bair sisters placed the headdress (purportedly Plenty Coups) by the picture and a ceremonial pipe. The bright vest that belonged to one of Buffalo Bill’s bartenders and leather pants of the warrior “Rain in the Face” were arranged to the right.

    The Bair ladies—Mary, Marguerite, and Alberta—collected art and antiques from their Portland home, and when the family moved to Martinsdale permanently, the sisters deftly joined their collections with the Western art to tell the story of Charles Bair and his family. Alberta and Marguerite continued to visit Europe many years to enlarge the collection and today the Western and European art hang comfortably together. The Parisian “firelight” scenes by Edward Cortez are a particular favorite of visitors.

    In order to preserve these priceless art pieces, the originals will be housed in the new building and copies will be displayed in the House Museum to fully tell the Bair story.

    The exterior of this new museum building, according to Kim Olsen of O2 Architects of Billings, has been carefully designed to blend with existing structures on the property while the interior is designed to exhibit paintings and collections gathered by the Bair family. According to Director-Curator Elizabeth Guheen, the design includes gallery space for Charlie Bair’s collection of Russells, Sharps, and J.K. Ralston as well as a separate gallery for the Bair sisters’ American and European paintings. A specially designed gallery space has been created to show the valuable, but light sensitive photographs of Edward Curtis—only a few copies of which have been shown in the house. The museum will also be available for guest exhibits.

    Climate and light controlled glass display cases have been designed for the Bair’s Native American art and artifacts. In addition, there is a temporary gallery space for revolving exhibits and a cement vault for storing pieces during off-season months.

    Ceremonial ground breaking for the building was in August of 2010 and construction began in the fall. The Grand Opening is scheduled for July, 2011.

    The summer hours for the Museum will be May through September, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.—last tour of the home is at 4 p.m.

    Lee Rostad and her husband Phil ranched in the northern foothills of the Crazy Mountains, not far from the Bair Ranch. Rostad wrote a biography of Charlie Bair, Fourteen Cents and Seven Green Apples, and a history of the museum and the fight for its survival, The House of Bair: Sheep, Cadillacs and Chippendale. She has also written Grace Stone Coates, Her Life in Letters. The recipient of many honors, Lee currently lives in Helena and serves on the Montana Historical Society Board.
    – See more at:

    • Dal, I tried but so far came up empty on Bairs Little 5 motel. I will continue chasing the lead.

      Michael D – thanks for posting Bair family history and museum info. With Sharps and Russell’s you can bet Forrest’s path intersects here at some point. I’ve added visiting the museum to my bucket list. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Michael D, for sharing that information. I wanted to go to the Bair Museum before. Now I REALLY want to go…soon. I especially loved the “Big Welcome” that the Crow gave to the French Ambassador and his Wife. I would have LOVED to see that. 🙂

    • Michael D – thanks for stirring my memory regarding western artist JK Ralson. Some of his work hangs in my home town and I was too young at the time to recognize just how masterfully he depicted Montana, her beauty and history.

    • Hi there 23kachinas 🙂 Will watching a couple of episodes of the Virginian tonight help me in my search effort – in your opinion? Getting an early start with my son tomorrow.

  8. 5, 6 and 7 could be dates for the October Conference or maybe something else!

  9. OK I am blogging challenged!!! Why is it that when I try to post to somebody’s comment it ends up at the bottom of the blog instead of under the comment that i want it at?!?!

    • Homie76, if you hit the reply button on the comment you want to reply to, it should end up under the right comment, otherwise it will go to the bottom of the comment page. Good Luck! 🙂

    • Hello Homecoming76, regarding the placement of comments, if you place directly below desired section and it goes to bottom of page, said comment section is full and defaults to bottom.

  10. This old man he played 5 he played knick knack on a hive with a knock knack paddy-whack give a dog a bone this old man came rolling home;
    This old man he played 6 he played knick knack with some sticks with a knick knack paddy-whack give a dog a bone this old man came rolling home:
    This old man he played 7 he played knick knack up to heaven with a knick knack paddy-whack give a dog a bone this old man came rolling home!!!

    • Pooch… no, no, bad dog. don’t play to heaven yet. it’s not time! Too much fun to be had with your friends yet. How about, solving 5 & 6 lands you the treasure; 7 is an FF guided tour through his private collection. Now, that’s a happy ending 🙂

  11. This old man he played 10 he played knick knack till the End with a knick knack patty wack give a dog a bone this old man came rolling home . 🙂 !!!!!!!

  12. Bair’s Little 5 Motel, Bozeman Montana .
    According to the Bozeman Polk Directories, Bair’s Truck Stop opened in 1962 and was owed and operated by the Comet Oil Co. Ray L. Havig president, and managed by Hale Hubbard. The business was part truck stop café and dining restaurant at 815 N. 7th The motel opened in 1969 at 907 N. 7TH and managed by Wm. Witt. The motel consisted of 5 smaller mobile homes with room for semitrucks to park. The café and dining room, at 815 while in the same building, operated as different entities with different hours. As the diner was considered a better place for meals and Sunday breakfasts. I worked as a bus boy in the dining room in my mid teens in the late 60’s. The business’ closed in 1978 and the truck stop and café reopened on Jackrabbit Lane near I-90 outside Belgrade a year later and still exists sans motel.
    I have found no connect between this and the more famous Montana sheep baron and patron of the arts Bair Family.
    The object you have is a bath mat made highly of absorbant paper as a luxury for guests in the “less expensive” motels with limited clothes washing facilities. The drawing was available to have the name of the establishment printed at the bottom. I’ve seen them from several motels and dude ranches in the area and seem to have been quite popular during the 1950’s
    Al Huntsman III
    Research & Collections
    Gallatin History Museum 317 W Main Bozeman MT 59715

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