Treasure State Tycoon: Nelson Story and the Making of Montana

Treasure State Tycoon: Nelson Story and the Making of Montana

Newly released by the Montana Historical Society Press, Treasure State Tycoon recounts the remarkable life of Nelson G. Story, a colorful and contradictory figure whose influence on Montana’s development was profound and rivaled by few others in its history. After striking it rich in the goldfields of Alder Gulch, Story drove the first herd of cattle from Texas to the territory that would ultimately become the Treasure State. He went on to build a commercial empire of diverse interests, the success of which relied both on his determination and ingenuity as well as his penchant for fraud and deceit. Story’s reputation for ruthlessness in both his personal and professional conduct was well earned, but he was also a generous philanthropist, supporting local churches, schools, and other civic improvements. He tirelessly promoted the upstart community of Bozeman, playing a central role in the establishment of the Montana State College of Mechanical and Agricultural Arts— today’s Montana State University. Like other political and business leaders of his time, Nelson Story left behind a legacy rife with paradoxes that gave shape to life in Montana and continues to resonate in the contested mythology of the American West. Author John C. Russell was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and moved to Bozeman to attend Montana State University. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1978. He has worked as a broadcast reporter in television and radio, and most recently as director of the Gallatin (County) Historical Society. Russell is also the author of several historical articles, one published in Wild West Magazine.


  1. Robert Larch on August 23, 2022 at 12:39 pm

    Nelson Story was born in Meigs County Ohio just outside Pomeroy. He was/is the inspiration for the McMurty,s Lonesome Dove books by making the 3000 cow drive from Texas to Montana.

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