Wolf Point’s Wild Horse Stampede has had its fair share of memories over the course of 100 years, but few can top the time hometown hero Montie Montana returned for the 54th Annual Stampede in 1975. The date marked a significant milestone for the Western showman—50 years of trick riding.
In 1925, at age 15, Owen Harlen Mickel performed in the Miles City Rodeo as a trick roper for the sum of $15. It was there that he earned his stage name, when the announcer forgot who he was and proclaimed on the fly, “Here’s Montie from Montana, the Montana Kid.”
From that day forward, Mickel performed as “Montie Montana,” acting in nineteen movies (including The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), stunt riding in at least a dozen more, and serving as a technical director and trick rider and roper for Will Rogers Jr. Montie even played the lead in a seldom-seen picture titled Circle of Death.
Cowboy legend Roy Rogers once paid Montie a great compliment, calling him the greatest trick roper of his time.
By 1975, the sun had gone down on Montie’s Hollywood career, but there was still plenty of cowboy left in him. For 72 years he put on roping shows for audiences, always atop a black and white pinto (all of them named Rex). Wolf Point was honored to have him home for the 54th annual Wild Horse Stampede and sold souvenir programs at a buck apiece with a photo of Montie Montana on the cover.
In 1989, Montie was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. In 2014, he was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs. In 2015, he was inducted into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Montie’s final roping performance was at the famed Pendleton Roundup in Oregon in 1997. He was 87 years old.
For more on the life of Montie Montana, visit montanacowboyfame.org.