Until 2002, the Gallatin Canyon Women's Club's Historic Crail Ranch Restoration Committee focused its efforts on ranch restoration.
Through the first decade of the 21st century, the Historic Crail was the center of the community's summer events. The ranch hosted art shows and quilt sales. The ranch remained the starting point for the Country Fair.
The Historic Crail Ranch Restoration Committee completed the rehabilitation of the two buildings and worked on the grounds. But until 2004 very little was known about the Crail Family.
The Historic Crail Ranch Restoration Committee acquired antiques from the region, using funds donated by the members of the Gallatin Canyon Women's Club. Some local residents contributed their family artifacts. The Women's Club bid on and purchased many items offered by the Dorothy Vick Estate.
In 2004, two conservators drove to Oregon to meet patriarch Augustus Franklin "Frank" Crail's sole grandchild, also called Frank Crail. A close relationship was forged. Frank provided a great deal of family history and donated many artifacts original to the Crail Ranch and the Crail family's Bozeman home.
Frank and his family visited the ranch in 2004 and then again in 2009, each time bringing additional family antiques.
By the mid-2000s, the BSOA transferred the Historic Crail Ranch and other community assets to the Big Sky Community Organization. The Historic Crail Ranch Conservators was formed and became a chartered committee with the BSCO.
The BSOA remains a friend of the Historic Crail Ranch, contributing annually to its maintenance budget.
The Historic Crail Ranch Conservators hired Scott Carpenter, an archaeologist and cultural resources planner, to inventory the collection. After the Crail Family contributions, the collection contained approximately 1500 objects, documents and photos.
Carpenter advised the HCRC on their Master Plan toward true museum operations.
Many members of the Crail Family come to the museum. Each time they bring along more family lore and artifacts.
Conservators remain close to the family members.
Historic Crail Ranch had a space problem for over 100 years. The small cabin, the oldest structure in Big Sky that remains on its original property and in its original condition, was used as a storage unit. In 2014 the HCRC solicited enough funding to erect a storage shed for museum support materials.
The small cabin now houses ranching exhibits.
Historic Crail Ranch educates the community in various unique ways.
Youngsters learn about local history through the summer camps and school curriculum.
The Big Sky landscape is dotted with archival photographs on interpretive signs and wrapped utility boxes.
Conservators sponsor opportunities for adult learning as well through:
- Living history presentations in the summer
-Local book presentations in the winter at Of Wilderness and Resorts
- Video productions
Conservators continue to refurbish the buildings and historic grounds. A major infrastructure upgrade was undertaken between 2015 and 2019.
Conservators have forged partnerships with many community agencies and organizations to enhance the experience at the Historic Crail Ranch.
Our goal is to continue the life of this historic property that has sustained since the early 1900s and enrich lives through education.