Richard Thomas “Dick” “RT” Loss, known as one of the best bronc busters in the Montana Territory, was at home on the back of any mount. He was a personal friend to Charles M. Russell and Rev. William Wesley “Brother Van” Van Orsdel. In 1938, Dick became a charter member and served as president of the Montana Cowboys Association in Great Falls.
Dick’s family moved to Montana in 1891, establishing a homestead near Square Butte. At age 15, Dick began working for the NS Horse Ranch owned by Dan Morris, who had the mail contract for the area. In addition to working as a cowhand, he was also hired for two years to deliver the mail twice a week by horseback between Fort Shaw and Augusta.
Dick took part in cattle drives and big roundups during the open range days, when fences, bridges, and most towns were nonexistent. He commonly rode from Fort Shaw to the Sweet Grass Hills, Chestnut Valley to Belt, and participated in the Chestnut Valley Roundups in Montana.
In 1895, he went to work for the Hastie Horse and Cattle Ranch, and then for the “F” outfit, formally known as the Floweree Ranch in the Sun River Valley.
In 1898, he met Margurite Rose “Maggie” Demars at a local dance, and they were married at Saint Peter’s Mission in 1899. The couple had seven children between 1899 and 1910—all baptized at the Mission.
Dick managed the family ranch until 1932, when a few years of drought forced them to relocate to Fairfield. There, he farmed and ranched with his son Babe on the Earl Holiday place. They later purchased the Harris place, west of Fairfield, to raise cattle and sheep.
In the summer months, you could catch him high-stepping his favorite horse, Pal, through the streets of Fairfield, during the annual downtown parade. In the late ‘40s, Dick rode Pal through Great Falls with Gene Autry during the North Montana State Fair Parade.
When he was in his sixties, he watched his sons and some local boys having a hard time breaking a horse. So, he nonchalantly entered the pen and showed them how it was done.
At 80, Dick retired from working on the ranch but continued to help out at roundup time and would swim his horse across the canal for a stray if needed.
Befitting his nature, the first time he ever drove an automobile, Dick put it through a fence, as he didn’t understand the concept of the brake pedal. Instead, he pulled back real hard on the steering wheel, the whole while hollering “WHOA!”