Posted by: greatfallsgirl | May 24, 2011

Ayrshire Dairy

The Ayrshire Dairy was a popular dairy south of Great Falls.  It is the only milk I ever remember being in the house.  The dairy doesn’t operate anymore, but the land is still held by the family…that is nice!   Here is a picture of the barns that were part of the milking operation.

An item from the dairy found on E-Bay:

Another milk bottle:

The Golden Anniversary Ayrshire Dairy Cookbook (1958):

The hallowed carton (thanks John Hamrell!):


More information about the dairy:

Ayrshire Dairy Farm

Owner/Manager: Harry Mitchell & Family

Here is one of the most significant historic sites on the entire national Lewis and Clark Trail — the Upper Portage Camp and White Bear Islands area, where the expedition headquartered for a pivotal month in 1805 and stopped again on its way home the following year.

It was here, on the present-day Ayrshire Dairy Farm, that the Corps of Discovery based its life throughout the brutal portage of the five Great Falls of the Missouri. It was here that they laboriously collected and created materials needed to assemble the iron boat frame they had hauled from Virginia — only to have the finished boat sink. It was here that they fought off wolves and grizzlies on a daily basis, while hunting and drying thousands of pounds of meat for the next leg of their journey. And it was here, too, that they drank the last of their whiskey and celebrated the nation’s 29th Independence Day on July 4, 1805.

One hundred years after Lewis and Clark‘s momentous passage, ancestors of the land’s present-day owners began creating one of the state’s first — and longest-lasting — dairies. H. B. Mitchell imported Ayrshire cows from his native Scotland, believing they were the only species hardy enough to thrive even in Montana winters. Milk processing ended here 92 years later, but the dairy’s rangelands are still grazed by local cattle.

The rangelands here still sustain themselves naturally, having changed in 200 years only by virtue of the loss of bison, which in the days of Lewis and Clark grazed — even overgrazed here — by the tens of thousands. H. B. Mitchell’s descendants today manage cattle grazing to ensure sustained productivity both for livestock and for the many wildlife species that remain in abundant numbers. With the creation and growth of nearby Great Falls, much of the land surrounding the Ayrshire Dairy Farm has been developed, but the farm’s owners plan to continue preserving their land and its historic sites as open space. A historical exhibit and loop-trail created by Undaunted Stewardship® now overlook the Upper Portage Camp and White Bear Islands area.

Directions to this ranch:
In Great Falls, take 10th Avenue South to 13th Street. Turn south on 13th and travel about four miles to 40th Street. Turn right (west) on 40th; the display area is on the left about 400 yards from 13th Street.



  1. I lived in Chicago,IL around late 70’s and early 80’s. Jewel Food Stores carried Ayrshire in a 2 lb waxed,round container. It was the best. I now live in Arizona and would really like to get that Butter out here.

  2. I am sad to hear of this legend closing, my grandmother was Marie Mitchell Shaffer, i have a broach that was hers from the 50th anniversery of the farm, and when my father was young he would be sent there in the summers to buck hay, i am sorry i never got to visit it in its hay day, would love to know if any of the relatives over there have any memories or pictures of my grandmother/father, we have been out of contact since the early 1970s…

  3. I lived in Great Falls, MT 1970-74. Best milk and dairy products ever!

  4. We lived in great falls, 1962-1972, and my parents used to take us out the Ayshire Dairy. The family that ran the dairy was wonderful, and they taught us how to milk cows, and help around the dairy. Along with my brothers and sisters, (all 7 of us!)we appeared in TV commercials for the dairy in the late 60s and early 70’s. We all loved their milk – best we ever had.

  5. Ha…. i have a funny story about that place… a group of us kids used to ride bikes all over the place. one summer we decided to hit the road on our stingrays and ended up at this dairy. Super hot out, no water, no food so by the time we got there we were dying. The guy running the place took pity on us and offered us some chocolate milk. Man that was some good stuff, but not exactly the best thing to drink if you’re over heated and dehydrated. One by one all of us returned the chocolate milk, slightly used, to the land from whence it came. What’s worse, we did the same thing the following year. He had to know it was making us sick and was probably dying from laughter in his office. Too funny!

  6. A fun place for a 3rd grade field trip and we got to keep our small milk cartons afterwards for growing beans in the classroom window. 🙂

  7. I grew up in Great Falls. When my aunt died, she had an Ayrshire Dairy pitcher in her things. I was going to sell it on ebay, but didn’t figure anyone would even know that the dairy ever existed.

  8. I remember how good the butter was. My mother only used Aryshire, for all cooking occasions. I wish the farm descendants would again start to produce the dairy!

  9. Myself and my six siblings made TV commercials for the Ayrshire Dairy Farm back in the late 1960. We lived in Great Falls- I still remember all of us in an Ayrshire Dairy swestshirt. The milk was great!

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