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  • Big Timber and Sweet Grass County are where the prairies meet the mountains—specifically the Crazy Mountains and the Absaroka-Beartooth Ranges.  The magnificent scenery and the western hospitality welcome the traveler.

  • Location

    The county of Sweet Grass (two words) is located in south central Montana. Don't confuse the town of Sweetgrass with the county of Sweet Grass. The town of Sweetgrass (one word) is located on the Canadian border in Toole County in north central Montana. Sweet Grass County became a county in 1895. It was formed out of parts of Park, Meager, and Yellowstone Counties. From 1910-1920 parts of Sweet Grass County were taken to form Stillwater, Wheatland and Golden Valley Counties. It has been its present size since 1920.


    Big Timber and the Sweet Grass County area enjoy the diversity of each season with a variety of weather phenomenon. The average annual precipitation is approximately 15 inches and comes in any form, from winter (and summer) snowstorms to spring cloudbursts, and summer and fall rain showers.

    The April through September precipitation amounts average 10.5 inches and the maximum temperature average is 75.26. Average minimum temperature for April through September is 44.15 degrees.

    July and August are our warmest months with temperatures averaging in the high 80s and 90s. The yearly average maximum temperature is 60.6 degrees and the average minimum temperature is 33.6. The coldest recorded temperature was -47 in February 1936, and the hottest recorded temperature was 107 in July 2002. Big Timber boasts 286 days of sunshine each year.


    According to the 2005 census, 3,672 residents enjoy calling Sweet Grass County home, an increase of 1.7% from the 2000 census. Total population in Montana reached 935,670 in 2005, a 3.7% increase since the 2000 census. The population of Big Timber is 1,650. Sweet Grass County boasts 1,907 housing units, while Big Timber upholds 812 housing units. Although Sweet Grass County is experiencing relatively moderate population growth, the total population still falls more than 1,200 people short of its 1920 population of over 4,900.


    Surrounded by mountains and prairie, Big Timber sits in the valley formed by the confluence of the Boulder and Yellowstone Rivers. Located in south-central Montana, Big Timber is the gateway to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and is home to some of the most beautiful country to explore in the entire state.

    The Boulder River flows 57 miles across Sweet Grass County.  The West Boulder, East Boulder, and the Yellowstone Rivers also flow naturally across miles and miles of our land offering amazing fishing, camping, and recreation opportunities for individuals and families alike.

    Bigger than the State of Rhode Island, the county is 1,855 square miles - 449 of which are public lands. The eastern and northern parts of the county are devoted to agriculture, mostly the raising of cattle and sheep. Some farming of crops that require little moisture is also done.

    The county reaches into the Crazy Mountains on the north and west. Formed by igneous rock and carved by glaciers, the Crazies have been inhabited by man for the past 11,500 years. Native Americans, most recently the Shoshone and Crow, have camped in the canyons, drank from the clear steams, and hunted the vast herds of deer, antelope, and elk inhabiting the mountain’s slopes, valleys, and foothills. Between 1860 and 1880 the Native Americans gave way to trappers, traders, and settlers.

    To the south in Sweet Grass County lies the Absaroka Range. Granite Peak, located in the Absaroka Mountain Range, is the highest mountain in Montana at 12,799 ft. Elevation in Big Timber is 4,100 ft. The Gallatin National Forest and Absoraka-Beartooth Wilderness act as a boundary between the county and Yellowstone National Park.

    Two rivers trisect the county. The Yellowstone River runs east and west. The Boulder River flows from its source in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness and joins the Yellowstone just east of Big Timber.

    Seven creeks inhabit various sections of the county. Big Timber Creek, Otter Creek and Sweet Grass Creek come out of the Crazies and flow into the Yellowstone from the north. Upper Deer Creek, Lower Deer Creek, Bridger Creek and Work Creek start in the Absarokas and flow into the Yellowstone from the south.


    Currently, Sweet Grass County is governed by three elected commissioners. Local law enforcement is provided by the Sweet Grass County Sheriff's Department and the Montana Highway Patrol. Fire protection services are handled by the Big Timber Fire Department.

    Big Timber is the government seat of Sweet Grass County. Three other communities (Melville, McLeod, and Greycliff) lie within the county’s borders, but Big Timber is the only incorporated town.  In 2002 there were 2,091 active registered electors.

    Government History

    Soon after Sweet Grass County was organized, the commissioners established the three judicial townships of Big Timber, Stillwater, and Melville. In 1941 the only organized township in the county was at Big Timber. This township had two Justices of the Peace, but no constables.

    One of the duties of the county was to enforce the law within its boundaries. In Sweet Grass County in 1906, vagrancy and other petty crimes caused the commissioners to pass a resolution in order to dissipate the illusion that a short sentence to jail was just a pleasant vacation. The board ordered the sheriff to put all prisoners to work on the county roads and they were to be under guard - shackled with ball and chain if necessary. Any prisoner refusing to work would be put on a bread and water diet by the Sheriff.

    The unique stone architecture of the town’s public buildings gives Big Timber an unforgettable look. In 1897, a courthouse site was purchased from Harvey Bliss for $100. Bids for construction of a courthouse were opened, and the new building was approved on November 6, 1897, at a cost of $9,590.

    The building sustained extensive fire damage in 1908, necessitating considerable repair work. The building was damaged again by fire in 1918 for which the county received indemnity totaling $2,662.75. Repairs following this fire were made costing $1,700. Repair work and construction of an addition were contracted for in 1929 at a cost of $1,697.

    Pioneer Medical Center

    Pioneer Medical Center (PMC) is a critical access hospital with 25 acute care/swing beds and a 35-bed nursing home. The PMC also includes a rural health clinic, hospice, ambulance service, public health and assisted living facility.  The County of Sweet Grass owns the Pioneer Medical.  The Sweet Grass County Commissioners, PMC Board of Directors, PMC Staff and county residents are all committed to fulfilling the organization’s mission and vision.

    Hospital Services

    As a critical access hospital, Pioneer Medical Center has highly trained nursing and medical staffs dedicated to meeting a variety of medical needs.  Although no one looks forward to an overnight stay in a hospital, PMC staff strives to make your stay as comfortable as possible.  PMC's staff delivers high quality, personalized care to each of their patients.

    At Pioneer Medical Center, patients who no longer require acute services but are in need of additional short-term rehabilitation and/or skilled nursing care may be eligible for swing bed services. Patients admitted to skilled care at PMC are transferred from acute care services at PMC or another health care facility.

    The Pioneer Medical Center’s Laboratory offers many general laboratory tests, using Billings Clinic as a reference lab for testing that is not performed internally.  The Radiology Department offers imaging services in order to diagnose disease and identify injury.  Radiology services such as general X-ray, electrocardiograms and ultrasound services are available. 

    Pioneer Medical Center is the only provider of emergency services in Sweet Grass County.  The facility has quality staff and equipment to diagnose and treat urgent, emergent and trauma patients.  Staff at the PMC sees conditions ranging from cuts, bruises and colds to motor vehicle accidents.  Pioneer Medical Center has been designated as a Trauma Receiving Facility by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services by meeting high standards of trauma care.

    Emergency services at PMC:

    * Available 24 hours a day – 7 days a week.
    * 24-hour availability of emergency medical personnel including nursing and medical providers.

    * Fully equipped trauma room with three beds separated by privacy curtains.

    * Separate private examination room.

    Any questions or comments regarding emergency care at Pioneer Medical Center can be referred to PMC Administration at (406) 932-4603.

    Visit www.pmcmt.org for complete medical center information.

    The Clinic

    Since 1996, the Pioneer Medical Center Clinic has been providing primary care to the residents and visitors of Sweet Grass County.  Our medical staff treats acute illnesses, manages chronic diseases, and provides women health, preventative care and well child services.  The clinic also offers adult and child immunizations among other services.  The staff at Pioneer Medical Clinic is committed to providing prompt, courteous service and personalized care.

    Contact Information:

    Pioneer Medical Center, 701 Stock Street, Big Timber, MT 59011
    (406) 932-4199

    Additional Clinic information is available at  http://pmcmt.org/services/clinic/.

    Public Health

    The Sweet Grass County Health Department is a unit of the Pioneer Medical Center.  The goal of public health is to prevent disease, prolong life and promote health.  Concerned with the overall health of Sweet Grass County residents, the public health department works closely with local medical providers and state officials to reduce the impact of disease through monitoring, education and other preventative measures.

    Any general questions regarding public health services should be referred to:

    Sweet Grass County Public Health Department

    115 West 5th Avenue, PO Box 509, Big Timber, MT 59011
    (406) 932-5449 phone, (406) 932-3027 fax

    Visit  http://pmcmt.org/services/public-health/ for more information concerning the Sweet Grass County Public Health Department


    Hearts & Hands Hospice serves the residents of Sweet Grass County and is a Medicare certified program.  Hospice care focuses on caring, not curing.  When a cure is no longer possible, hospice provides the best in medical, nursing, emotional and spiritual care for people facing life-threatening illness and shortened life expectancy. 

    Whenever possible, Hospice care is offered at home.  However, a special room is set aside at the Pioneer Medical Center for hospice patients and their families if they choose not to remain at home.  In addition to end-of-life care, Hearts & Hands Hospice maintains a Durable Medical Equipment Loan Closet, makes a monthly donation to a community member who has health-related expenses, and provides education and support groups in the community.

    For information contact:

    Hearts & Hands Hospice, PO Box 1337, Big Timber, Montana 59011
    (406) 932-4603

    Online information is available at:   http://pmcmt.org/services/hospice/

    Big Timber is conveniently located along I-90 and Highway 191, just 60 miles east of Bozeman, MT and 80 miles west of Billings, MT Yellowstone Air Service provides service to the Big Timber Airport. The nearest international airports may be found at Gallatin Field located between Bozeman and Belgrade, Montana, and the Billing's Logan International Airport located in Billings.