The Ranch was homesteaded in 1921 by Rudolph and Semely Dwight. The land which now makes up the JJJ was known as a land grant. The Dwights built a sturdy log cabin with four enormous logs for each of the walls and a main beam for the roof. Time has taken a heavy toll, but the shell of the cabin still remains on the property. Remnants of old crude furniture, an iron bed and a rusty stove were still within when the Barkers bought the property, proving it had been a cozy, comfortable shelter from the elements. The Dwights raised a few cattle and some hay, and remained here until 1937. The next owners were two brothers, Jack and Red Slaughter, who built the Homesteader cabin, and quite a wild reputation. Because of the pristine location, closeness to the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and abundance of wildlife, they started outfitting for hunting of elk, deer and bear.
The name and brand of the Ranch came from the next owners, Herb and Leona Stevens. They sold a cattle ranch in eastern Montana to move here, and JJJ was their cattle brand. Herb and Leona primarily ran pack or hunting trips in the Bob Marshall.
Max and Ann Barker’s love affair with Montana began in 1958 while on vacation from their Iowa farm. Raised in Iowa Falls, Max and Ann grew up in a farming environment and were neighbors during childhood. Max remembers asking Ann to marry him when they were 5 years old. “She didn’t say yes, but she didn’t say no, either!” They married after a few years in college and continued to farm. After three daughters were born, Max earned a degree in forestry. This took the family west to jobs in Colorado and Montana, until Max had an opportunity to purchase a farm in Iowa raising corn and cattle. After their girls graduated from high school, Max and Ann began exploring the West for a cattle ranch, although they soon discovered that they could not finance a ranch the size they wanted. Finally, in February 1976, they stumbled across Mortimer Gulch and by June of that year had sold their Iowa farm, bought the Triple J, and moved to Montana for good. After several years, many hilarious stories, and lots of hard work, the Triple J took shape.
A young Ernie attended school in Augusta, often riding the snow-mobile down the mountain to catch the school bus in the winter. After high school, he earned a degree in Animal Science from Montana State University in Bozeman. It was there he met Kim from longtime Montana farm and ranch family. Kim’s a registered nurse, and worked in the nursing field for many years until she got too busy at the ranch. Daughters Kelsey and Hayley are now young adults – Kelsey is married and off on her own and Hayley is attending Montana State University with the hope of carrying on this tradition of Montana hospitality. While Max has passed on, Ann lives in Augusta and still enjoys visiting the ranch. The flower garden by the lodge is her masterpiece.