Historic Crail Ranch


Preservation of the Crail Ranch began in the late 1970s as a grassroots effort of a group of women and men from the rapidly growing Big Sky, Montana resort area. Naming themselves the Gallatin Canyon Historical Society, and affiliating with the larger Gallatin County Historical Society, they met during the early 1980s. Early members included Judy Onslow, Howard Alverson, Bob Donovan, Paula Halverson, Susie Weir, Oralee Alverson, and Nancy Cooke. Through their efforts, the buildings and grounds of this exemplary Montana homestead were added to the National Register of Historic Places.

To continue the work of this early group, the Historic Crail Ranch Conservators were established in 2006 as a committee of the Big Sky Community Organization, an IRS 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation. See our list of Donors below.

The mission of the Historic Crail Ranch Conservators is to develop an awareness and appreciation for the Crail Ranch, to preserve and maintain it as a heritage property, and to promote it as an educational resource of the Big Sky community, Gallatin County, the State of Montana, and the Great American West.


Anne Marie Mistretta

Meet Anne

Anne Marie Mistretta, HCRC Chair, has been active with Crail Ranch preservation since 2003. Anne Marie retired from Big Sky’s school district, where as the Superintendent/Principal, she was instrumental in expanding the district to include Lone Peak High School. Anne Marie and husband Jerry raised 4 children, and have 6 grandchildren. Full time Big Sky residents, they volunteer with several local non-profit initiatives.  Anne Marie enjoys fishing and skiing.

Al Lockwood – Emeritus

Meet Al

Al Lockwood and his wife, Jane, came to Big Sky in the summer of 2003 to get away from the heat in Tucson, AZ their hometown.  Al had a grassroots interest in local history wherever he happened to be living. In Tucson, he was a docent at the Arizona Historical Society museum for many years, and he developed the first docent program for the 300-year-old San Xavier Mission on the Tohono O’odham reservation near town. In Big Sky, Al signed on as a docent at the Crail Ranch in 2006 and was elected first chairperson of the Historic Crail Ranch Conservators when they were formally chartered in 2007. In his five years as chairperson, Al worked to make the Crail Ranch a self-sustaining, accessible, and enduring educational resource for the Big Sky community. 

Phyllis Breeden


Meet Phyllis

Phyllis Breeden, HCRC Secretary, and her husband, Bill, are original Montanans and Montana State University graduates. Phyllis taught elementary school in Alaska for 37 years, including several years in remote Alaska Native villages. She and Bill always planned to return to Montana, and because they love the outdoors and all it has to offer, Big Sky was the perfect choice.  Phyllis was a Big Sky Resort Mountain Host for 8 years. She served as an executive board member of the Gallatin Canyon Women’s Club for 6 years, and is a volunteer at the Big Sky Community Library.

Sarah Peterson

Meet Sarah

Sarah Peterson fell in love with Big Sky in 1973 while vacationing in MT with her husband Marv and their two daughters. She’s returned every year to enjoy skiing and hiking and other winter and summer outdoor activities.  After teaching middle school U.S. history and language arts for four decades in Ann Arbor, MI and Watsonville, CA, she and Marv retired and began spending winters and summers in Big Sky. She became a docent at the Crail Ranch several years ago and has found working at the ranch a wonderful way to continue to learn and teach history to the many summer visitors who find the story of the Crail family and other homesteaders in the Gallatin Canyon intriguing.

Margaret Leeper

Meet Margaret

Margaret Leeper lived in Fairfax County, Virginia for 40 years where she taught elementary school and served as a Reading Specialist.  She and her husband John bought a condo in Big sky in 1990 and thus became seasonal visitors for many years.A home purchased in Bozeman brought them back to Montana on a permanent basis.. After living there for 10 years, they bought a home in Big Sky and one in Englewood, Florida allowing them to enjoy both wonderful places.Two sons, their wives and two grandchildren live on the east coast. Margaret likes skiing, hiking golf, tennis, camping and learning about early life in the Gallatin Canyon.

Carol Thoresen

Meet Carol

Carol Thoresen retired from MSU Bozeman as a science educator. Her 40 year career included over 20 years as a chemistry instructor, followed by work on a series of NSF grants, and 10 years as director of the innovative Master In Science and Science Education (MSSE) program.  She recently moved to Big Sky where she enjoys hiking and skiing.

2019 Donors

Marilyn Alkire & Alan Shaw
James & Yvonne Bell
Doug & JoDean Bing
William & Phyllis Breeden
Roger & Carolyn Brislawn
Woodruff Burt
Stan & Cyndee Button
Merrilee Kick of Buzz Talz
Warren & Brammie Cook
Patricia Doherty
Sandra Driesbach
David & Marianna Gasser
Christl Gump
Thomas & Dee Hall
Donald Hansen
Rick & Jamie Hamm
Joan Heimsch
Wayne & Marilyn Hill
Marilyn & Perk Hoecker
Joan Hoff
Kathryn & David House
James Jones
James & Cynthia Jorgenson
Robert Kahn & Sharon Huntley Kahn
John & Brenda Keating
Ward Kenwood

Frank & Kristin Kern
Ron & Nancy Kurz
Knorr Enterprises – Lisa Knorr
Robert & Patricia Kimmel
Darius & Cynthia Larsen
Wayne & Virginia Lee
John & Margaret Leeper
Les & Terry Loble
Albert & Jane Lockwood
Harry & Norma Longwell
Linda Meade & Jack Luechtefeld
John & Carol McGuire
Jerry & Anne Marie Mistretta
NJ Cleaning
Ellie Nolan
Duncan & Eva Patten
Artem & Kimberly Pechischev
Kathleen Scott
Steve & Renae Schumacher
Kathleen Scott
Jeff & Karen Strickler
Kevin & Jane Stump
Carol Thoresen
Randy & Beth Van Horn
DeWitt & Jane Ward
Ted & Kate Williams
Larry & Carol Woodward


The Buck and Helen Knight Foundation
The Glore Fund – Maude E. Glore
The Harold Sweatt Foundation – Bill & Jennifer Reed
Montana History Foundation
Yellowstone Club Community Foundation

Artifact Donors

The Burcalow Family
Jeremy Harder
Michael Hennessey
Kristin Kern
Michael Oshier

Community Partners & Agencies

AmeriCorps NCCC Pacific Region (National Corporation for National and Community Service)
Big Sky Community Organization
Big Sky Owners Association
Big Sky Water and Sewer
Gallatin Canyon Women’s Club
Gallatin Invasive Species Alliance
Gallatin River Task Force
Habitat For Humanity
Montana History Foundation


Phyllis Breeden
Doug Brengles
Woody Burt
Kayla Burton
Emily Casey
Lucia Damberg
Patricia Doherty
Ron Edwards
Phil Fluke
Alex Gabriel
Jamie Hamm
Rick Hamm
Rene Kraus

Lance Krieg
Cindy Larsen
John Leeper
Margaret Leeper
Al Lockwood
Jack Luechtefeld
Kass McCarthy
Betsy McFadden
Linda Meade
Anne Marie Mistretta
Jerry Mistretta
Jen Mohler

Linda Nell
Artem Pechischev
Sarah Peterson
Courtney Spitzner
Kathy Stinchon
Carol Thoresen
Beth Van Horn
Randy Van Horn
Ann Wilson
Sharon Winter