Ole T. Olson came from Ridgeway, Iowa to North Dakota seeking land. He looked for three requirements to build the foundation of a successful cattle ranch: coulees to protect cattle from the elements, good grazing and a spring to provide water. In 1897, Ole’s search ended in the beautiful badlands of western North Dakota, where he squatted on 160 acres of land not yet surveyed into townships. He began building a log house and cattle shed with his wagon and team of horses, repeatedly making the five mile trip to the Little Missouri, where he cut trees and hauled logs to the site.
Always looking for opportunities to grow and improve, the next few years brought the ranch holdings to include three more sections in Dunn and McKenzie counties. By 1912, Ole was shipping Hereford steers to the National Livestock Commission Co. in Chicago, IL His steers were deemed the highest “top” range cattle sold at the time.
Ole’s son Gordon was born in 1902. He grew up working alongside his dad, raising quality cattle and a herd of ranch horses. When Ole retired in the early l 950’s, Gordon took over full ranch operation. Like his dad, Gordon made continual improvements; drilling more water wells, building dams, repairing fences, and making sure each blade of prairie hay was cut to be prepared for both good and lean years. He looked forward to the Spring and Fall Round-ups, readying the chuck wagon for the hired cook. He took pleasure in branding and working together with other ranchers.
Retiring in the l 960’s, Gordon kept busy maintaining the 50 miles of fence around the ranch, always enjoying the beauty of the badlands. His daughter Hazel and her husband, Kelly Jorgenson, transitioned from living and working on the ranch to taking on the complete operation and continual improvements.
The Olson Ranch has remained in operation for over 120 years, with this families 4th generation at the helm today.