The Doncaster Barn or Bayers Barn

Round Barn - Cropped









A guest post by NBA member, Jill Hotchkiss.

The old round barn just outside Twin Bridges, Montana was built in 1882 by Noah Armstrong, one of the lesser known Copper Kings, who was at that time superintendent of the Glendale smelter and discoverer of the Hecla mine in western Montana. Being from Kentucky, Armstrong had a love for horses and horse racing. He purchased the ranch in 1882 calling it the Doncaster Ranch after one of his favorite race horses. He then built a magnificent three-story round barn in which to raise and train race horses. One of the reasons he built it round was so the horses could be exercised in the winter on the indoor track on the ground floor. The ground floor also had box stalls for the horses as well as a saddle/tack room, veterinarian’s room, grain bins and office and living quarters for the jockeys or stablemen. The second story housed hay which could be fed to the horses on the ground floor, through openings or chutes on the second floor. The third floor had a large water tank which was pumped there from the well which was underneath the barn and a windmill which was atop the barn. Water could then be pumped anywhere in the barn, under pressure. There was also a freight elevator to transport the hay, grain and anything else to the second floor. This was quite a fancy barn for the day. There was even a carved horse scene above the front doors of the barn. The barn’s claim to fame, however, was raising Montana’s only Kentucky Derby winner, Spokane, who won the race in 1889. Actually, at that time in history he was the equivalent of a Triple Crown winner, the slate of races being different than they are now.

This article is published in our printed in Winter 2012 newsletter, The Barn Door.


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