Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame: Marion Scott, Campbell County Cowboy
The winter of 1949 is one Marion Scott will never forget. He was 17 and still in school, but he spent that winter working – doing everything he could to make sure the family cattle survived the brutal winter weather.
The Scott Ranch near Gillette had no equipment to move the heavy snow that fell, so horses provided the power for all the work. Marion loaded loaded 400-500 pounds of cake on two pack horses and rode seven miles through the deep snow to feed their cows. He did this every day for weeks. And then the cake ran out.
Saddling up for one of the coldest rides of his life, Marion along with his father Harold and brother Bill prepared to trail the cattle nine miles down the Middle Prong County Road to the winter pasture just north of the Scott Ranch headquarters. Marion wore a lot of clothes and to keep his feet from freezing he had on heavy wool socks over his cowboy boots and boot overshoes. He had on double gloves inside mittens for his hands.
The temperature was 10 below zero and the wind was blowing making it bitterly cold outside. So cold in fact that even with layers of clothes on, Marion had to lead his horse, walking backwards most of the way to the ranch; he simply could not face into the wind.
Sixty years earlier cowboys faced similar conditions on the Northern Plains when the Big Die-Up occurred killing tens of thousands of cattle from Montana to Texas. The winter of 1886-87 and the winter of ’49 are among the worst known (although the winter of 2023 was a doozy!)
Just like Marion Scott piled on as many clothes as he could to stay warm moving cattle in ’49, Montana Cowboy Teddy Blue Abbott also wore nearly everything he had to ride and care for cattle in 1886-87:
“I wore two pairs of wool socks, a pair of moccasins, a pair of Dutch socks that came up to the knees, a pair of government overshoes, two suits of heavy underwear, pants, overalls, chaps and a big heavy shirt. I got a pair of woman’s stockings and cut the feet out and made sleeves. I wore wool gloves, and great big heavy mittens, a blanket-lined sourdough overcoat and a great big sealskin cap.”
Marion Harold Scott was born on November 27, 1932, to Harold and Bertha Jane Scott. Marion was the oldest of five children and was raised on the family ranch in northern Campbell County homesteaded by his grandparents in 1917.
Marion and his siblings rode their horses to school. He was raised with the philosophy that if it could be done horseback, you did it horseback.
The family expanded the original homestead lands in 1945 with purchase of an additional 7,000-acre ranch on the Middle Prong of Wild Horse Creek. They needed more horses to manage the expansion of the ranch and purchased several young horses which Marion and his brother Bill broke for ranch saddle horses.
Marion broke many colts over the years starting them as pack horses. He recalls, “I took the meanest out of a lot of horses by packing them.” One of the new horses had been abused and was hard to handle, but with a lot of work Marion turned him into “one of the best horses I ever had.”
It wasn’t often that a ranch kid had a chance for real adventure and travel, but when Marion was just 13, in 1946, he and Bill helped their father trail two carloads of yearlings to the Echeta stockyards. When they loaded the cattle onto the train, Marion’s dad invited Marion to climb aboard as well. They rode in the caboose to Omaha to sell the livestock.
The next spring, Marion and his dad trailed 100 yearlings to his grandfather’s ranch on the D Road, east of Rozet. That fall they trailed the cattle along the highway right of way for 20 miles for shipping to Omaha.
The railroad tracks were adjacent to the right of way and when a passing train blew its whistle, the yearlings bolted, breaking through the fence. Marion’s horse blew up in all the commotion. Marion tried to ride the bucking horse but he hit the ground, dislocating his shoulder.
A cowboy knows you must get back on your horse so after Marion’s dad pulled the shoulder back into place, the young cowboy got ready to ride. “It hurt like the dickens but felt better afterwards,” he said of his dad’s treatment.
Marion was drafted in the United States Army at the start of the Korean war. But his draft status put the ranch operation in jeopardy, so after passing his Army physical Marion was allowed to continue helping his father. He fulfilled his duty to the country by serving in the Army National Guard for eight years.
Marion married Mary McClure on January 31, 1953. Their first home was a one room, homestead cabin his father built that still sits on the family ranch. The cabin is featured in a mural on the south side of a building on 5th Street and Douglas Highway in Gillette portraying Marion as a baby with his parents, Harold and Bertha Jane Scott.
In 1956, Harold and Marion leased the adjoining Ray Gilstrap Ranch. Marion and Mary moved there the following year and later bought the place. They called it the P Cross Bar Ranch.
A good, hard-working man, Marion had the help of his wife and four daughters Marilyn, Debbie, Cathy, and Cindy in running the ranch. He also developed strong working relationships with his neighbors, Bob Sorenson and Reginald Parnell.
Marion and Mary were strong supporters of 4-H – he took the first horse project in Campbell County when he was just a boy – and they were 4-H leaders for over 25 years. They mentored and taught their daughters and other youth much about raising and caring for livestock as well as becoming leaders in the community.
This year started with a milestone – Marion and Mary celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary in January. In September, he will be inducted into the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame. His father Harold Scott and brother Bill Scott are previous inductees in the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame.
This year’s 10th Anniversary induction program will recognize the Class of 2023 along with earlier men and women inducted into the WCHF. Registration is now open for anyone interested in attending. To register visit: https://www.wyomingcowboyhalloffame.org/upcoming-events
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