Owner: Cade Atticus MacLeod
Ranch Manager: Joshua MacLeod
Income Livestock: Beef Cattle (Black Angus)
Subsistence Livestock: Chickens, Geese, Ducks, Goats, Milk Cows, Bison, Llama
Farm Products: Eggs, Wheat, Hay, Garden Vegetables
Size: 500,000 acres (781.25 sq. miles)
Coldwater Creek Ranch lies at the heart of the *Neha Mountain Chain, part of the Salish Mountain Range, which is located in Flathead County, Montana just off Highway 424 at the end of Coldwater Trail*. It is served by the Kalispell municipality for utilities and emergency services. The nearest town is Coldwater Junction which lies at the junction of Coldwater Trail and 424. Coldwater Trail passes through Coldwater Junction on its way through the Gap and onto the ranch. Several ranches and homes in the vicinity are served by the Coldwater Junction postal service.
Take Montana state highway 424 north from Kalispell or highway 93 to 424 south from Whitefish. Turn onto Coldwater Trail, passing through Coldwater Junction and Coldwater Gap. Beyond Coldwater Gap is a gently rolling valley. Coldwater Trail dead ends just beyond the gap at the ranch’s main gate.
Coldwater Creek Ranch
424 Coldwater Trail
Coldwater Junction, MT
Along with the main ranch house, there are several other residences located on the ranch. There is a small building to the right of the ranch’s entrance that houses the mailboxes. Each mailbox locks to protect the privacy of the person living on the ranch.
#1 Coldwater Creek Ranch
424 Coldwater Trail
Coldwater Junction, MT
The addresses for the employee cabins, guest house, and Isaiah’s home, Belle Mara, follow the same format.
The ranch has a long and successful history dating back to the 1800s. It has always been profitable with its Hereford and Angus cattle being highly sought after by other breeders as well as the income from sending the cattle to the meat market.
Lured by the prospect of adventure and riches, Josiah MacLeod, a geologist by trade, joined the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804 – 1806. He fell in love with the rugged beauty of the territory that would someday be the state of Montana. After an injury kept him from continuing on the expedition, he was taken in by a Native American tribe, the northern Blackfeet. Josiah was officially adopted and married Neha (Rain) Deepwater.
While exploring an unnamed mountain range, Josiah found a stunning vista of valleys and meadowland with rich, fertile soil. It was ideal for ranching and farming. He immediately staked a claim and named it Coldwater Creek which included the river that flowed from a large crater lake in the mountains. While prospecting in and around the lake, he discovered a small deposit of diamonds. The diamonds provided him with a source of capital for investing in the ranch. He was also a wise and canny businessman who recognized the future importance of railroads and oil and gas.
Josiah’s and Neha’s hard work made Coldwater Creek Ranch into a prosperous and thriving business which added substantially to the small fortune he had built up from the diamond find and other investments.
Terrain and Topography
Coldwater Creek Ranch’s 500,000 acres is cradled within the Neha Mountain Chain. The majority of the terrain is rugged and mountainous, but several valleys provide ample grazing for livestock and arable land for farming. The acreage not used for ranching purposes has been left wild and natural. There are vast tracts of forest, many lakes, creeks, and streams. The primary accessible and inhabited areas of the ranch are a series of valleys starting at the gap and moving steadily west and higher in elevation.
Ranch Layout and Facilities
Coldwater Trail ends at a ten-foot high concrete and stone wall that surrounds the ranch’s southern border, except where there are natural barriers that prevent entrance to the property. The wall is topped by an electrified fence.
The main entrance to the the property is via a massive wrought iron gate that rolls into the concrete and stone wall. It can be remotely operated by those given the authority to do so. Ranch vehicles are equipped with remotes programmed to open the gates. There is also a gate control box that allows entry via temporary gate pass codes.
Main Valley (aka 424)
The main valley provides the ranch’s main pasture for grazing. Coldwater Creek meanders back and forth through the valley and is the primary source of water for the cattle and horses. The valley’s gently undulating terrain is dotted by groves of trees that provide additional protection for ranch animals.
From the main valley, the road continues to wind upward and over a ridge, where it descends into the largest of the ranch’s working areas. The creek cuts its own path through the ridge to the next valley on its path south and east to Flathead River. It also bisects the valley and widens out into pools, providing water sources for the animals.
Also known as The Upper Valley, Coldwater Valley was formed when a volcanic crater collapsed. Over millions of years, erosion sculpted the valley into a spectacular vista whose central feature is Coldwater Lake. Repeated glaciation opened seams in the valley floor allowing it to fill with water from underground springs and aquifers. Numerous small islands dot the lake with some of them being large enough for small hunting and fishing camps. A natural spillway forms the head of Coldwater Creek.
Coldwater Lake Statistics
- Max. length 6 miles
- Max. width 5 miles
- Surface area 20.6 square miles
- Average depth 1,100 feet
- Max. depth 1,349 feet
- Shore length: 21.8 miles (total)
Although there are facilities located all over the ranch, the main operations is located in Crater Valley.
- Main barns, stables, equipment garages.
- Riding arenas (indoor, outdoor)
- Corrals, paddocks
- Employee cabins
- Belle Mara (Isaiah’s Home)
Coldwater Basin is the remains of an ancient volcanic crater. A portion of the northern section has collapsed into an underground aquifer which forms the upper region of Coldwater Lake. This section of the lake is warmer than the downstream section despite being at a higher elevation due to the fact that ancient hot springs also feeds into the lake. The lake bed is rocky and its terrain is spotted by narrow crevasses. In many areas, the hot water can be seen bubbling from cracks in the jumble of rocks and boulders littering the bottom. The eastern lip of the basin has eroded connecting the two sections of Coldwater Lake.
- Coldwater (main house)
- Guest House
- Small Stables and Barn
- Corrals and Paddocks
- Vegetable Farm
- Chicken Coops
- Barn and pasture for milk cows.
House Layout and Floor Plans
Cattle and Bison
Coldwater Creek Ranch keeps a small number of bison and milk cows (Holsteins) for ranch consumption. They raise Black Angus cattle for sale commercially, at auction and via a private contracts.
The land that became Coldwater Creek Ranch was the home to several small bands of feral (wild) horses. Prior to the ranch being signed over to Cade, these horses were merely part of the wildlife and the ranch maintained a stable of Quarter Horses for working the ranch. Cade made a business decision to start utilizing the herds of wild horses instead of buying stock horses. He carefully selected the larger animals to be crossbred with some of Coldwater Creeks Quarter Horse mares and stallions. Some of the offspring of the breeding program has been released into the wild. Subsequent generations have produced larger animals with the hardiness and endurance of the original herd of feral horses.
Coldwater Mustangs are highly prized as working, reining and trail horses.
Although the ranch’s mustangs are allowed to freely roam the land with little intervention regarding where they graze and breeding, they are routinely inspected. The horses are rounded up several times a year and administered routine vaccinations and given thorough health inspections as well as having their hooves trimmed if needed. The majority of the ranch’s working and competition horses are now mustangs.
Coldwater Creek Ranch maintains a small number of Peruvian Llamas. The animals are periodically brought in and sheared in order to maintain the health of their coats, their primary purpose is to act as herd guardians.
Llamas are more independent than their smaller camelid cousins, Alpacas and will actually bond with other herd animals. In many cases, llamas are better guards than herd dogs because they are less disturbing to the other animals. Llamas are hyper vigilant and in the event of danger, particularly that posed by wild canids such as wolves and coyotes, even feral dogs, they will lead their herd out of the danger zone.
The Peruvian Llama is a hardy and intelligent animal with few health concerns. They are ideally suited to life in the Montana mountains. Coldwater Creek Ranch keeps one or two llamas with each herd of livestock (horses, bison, cattle). There is even a large female llama housed near the ranch’s chicken coop.