Prospector, TOM HAWLEY, …..The Montana Ranch Namesake

Not much is known about the early Boulder resident, Tom Hawley, but it’s a fact that he had a definite role in the settling of the Upper Boulder river valley. Hawley was a daring Montana frontiersman in the 1880’s exhibiting reckless courage and matchless endurance like many of the pioneers of that time. It is stated that at the age of 64 he walked the 42 miles to Big Timber in one day……no small feat for even the fittest!

When the Boulder River valley was ceded to the government by the Crows in 1882, this area became a “home seekers paradise” for future ranch owners. Being a prospector, hunter, trapper, and mountaineer, Tom Hawley was one of nine settlers who had homesteaded property in the valley before 1884.

Boulder Valley pioneers possessed a high degree of intelligence, honesty, and sturdy independence. Hawley was no exception. Tom raised some livestock and crops on his homestead, but he was a miner at heart. He also assisted in the discovery of valuable mineral deposits farther up the river valley. The photo shows Tom Hawley’s cabin built near our present-day corral.

One story told about Tom Hawley involved three prospectors (one of which was Hawley) who were mining up in the Speculator Creek area. An early fall blizzard struck the area. Tom and one of the miners decided to stop the trip out of the mountains and take cover, but the third man decided to continue his journey on down the mountain. The next morning the miner was found “froze to death” by the other two. Thus, the creek which runs through what is now known as Whispering Pines is named Froze to Death Creek.

Tom Hawley sold his homestead in 1917 to Ralph Jarrett. He reportedly told the Jarrett’s that there was gold on Hawley Mountain, but by that time he was “too old and blind to show them where it was.” Hawley’s name lives on in the Boulder Valley, since the nearby mountain and creek bear his name. Also Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch was established by Bill Jarrett (great-great grandson of Ralph Jarrett) in 1972, and it is continues to operate to this present day.

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Hawley Mountain Ranch

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