Fundraising underway to buy metal horse herd

The popular Tongue River Herd (TRH) of metal horse sculptures may find a permanent pasture in Miles City.

Local citizens have formed a committee to work toward purchasing the sculptures, created by Montana artist Jim Dolan of Bozeman. They have become a feature for Miles City residents and those just passing by on the interstate highway, literally stopping traffic at times.

At the Thursday meeting of the Miles City Area Economic Development Council (MCAEDC) Development Committee Chair Lew Vadheim gave an update on the work toward keeping the horses in Miles City. 

The horses, which weigh around 600 pounds each were placed around the Rocking MC Welcome sign by Interstate 94 in April. They were originally only meant to be there until the end of the Bucking Horse Sale in May. 

The committee and Dolan met to talk about a price for the horses. 

According to Vadheim the price has been set at $210,000 for all 21 horses. 

“The idea is to keep the horses in a group, instead of scattered out individually,” said Vadheim. “That’s part of the attraction.”

The payment deadline for the payment is Sept. 1, 2017.

The TRH committee has raised $5,100 and received a $10,000 pledge. 

The group is currently working on applying for a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant for $100,000. Tickets for Dolan’s small horse sculpture. Those raffle tickets are still available until Sept. 1. 

The TRH committee is also utilizing the Keep Miles City Beautiful non-profit organization. The goal is to engage the community to improve and beautify the environment around them. 

The group is also working to set up a website and PayPal account for those wanting to donate funds.

“It’s an ongoing process, $210,000 is a lot to raise,” said Vadheim. “So I guess we’ll see. I personally think the herd is pretty cool.”

Dolan is a well-known Montana artist. The steel, sculpted horses are an artistic representation of the Western heritage. 

The development committee also discussed new signage on the west and east end of the interstate. 

The current sign on the west end coming into town reads “Miles City Jordan 1 mile.” The council is supporting adding a smaller sign under the current one that reads “City Center.” This addition would tell travelers that they can pull off into town for lodging, food, shopping and more.

The sign would be green, which is more official, said Vadheim. 

The MCAEDC would not be responsible for paying for the addition to the sign. The money would come from tax dollars. 

This is one part of the proposed west end development. 

According to the interim chair of the leadership committee, Mike Coryell, they have six verbal commitments for the upcoming leadership class. The deadline to sign-up is Sept. 15.

The next meeting of the council is slated for Thursday, Sept. 1.