Elk Park was settled in the late 1870’s. By 1883 there were about 170 residents of the area. The three towns of Elk Park, Trask and Woodville supported  post offices, hotels, lumberyard, butcher shop, barbershop and saloon. Logging and ice cutting were some of the first industries in the area. By the mid 1880s there were numerous dairies in Elk Park and you can still see many of the old dairy barns on both sides of the valley.

In 1888 the Montana Central Railway completed its 73 mile line between Helena and Butte, linking the Elk Park area to other communities of Jefferson County as well as Helena and Butte. The old grade can still be seen in many places along the west side frontage road and to the east of the interstate at the very north end of Elk Park. The last train ran through here in 1961

The closest town to our training grounds was Trask, located in the area of the Elk Park exit and the Nez Perce road. The old Trask school house, in use until 1933, is now part of the fire hall north of our grounds where we often run some stakes for the field trial and hunt test.

The TSRC grounds are located at the south end of Elk Park on the east side of the Continental Divide. The creek which flows through our grounds is Bison Creek. This  flows north to the Boulder River and then to the Jefferson River, one of the headwaters rivers of the Missouri.

The TSRC grounds, just under 110 acres, were acquired in three parcels. The first parcel, the middle portion of the grounds was acquired from the Butte Retriever Club in 1979. They had purchased the grounds in the 1960s. The north parcel was acquired from Alex and Beryl Zbitnoff in 1982. The last portion to be added to the grounds was 20 acres at the south west corner which the club had been leasing from the Forest Service. This parcel was purchased in 1984. This parcel had probably been an administrative site for rangers working in the area and for use as horse pasture.

The center portion of our club grounds was once owned by Jim Fulmer for whom the big lake was named. Fulmer Lake was one of several ice ponds in Elk Park the others being up Sawmill Road and at the north end of Elk Park. Jim Fulmer also shared ownership of the B and B fish ponds which supplied fresh fish for local butcher shops. The B & B stood for Brook and Bugni. These are our smaller ponds. In addition Fulmer owned a fox and mink farm in the area.

Grounds improvements have been made over the years. It is not known when the big dikes were built. The channel on the west side of the big lake and much of the road work was constructed by the Anaconda Job Corps. The construction of the peninsula on the west side of the big pond was master minded by Alex Zbitnoff. Much of this work was done in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s and overseen by Alex Zbitnoff. The clubhouse was acquired from the highway department. It had been a roadside rest stop facility.

In 2009 about ten acres at the south end of the grounds were logged to get rid of trees killed by the pine bark beetle infestation. This has opened up some more areas to run dogs on. Several deep prospect pits were exposed after the logging and these have been filled in and seeded. Clean up work is in progress in the logged areas and will result in some new areas suitable for running dogs. Some of this area is rough and there is some new blow down so use caution when training in the logged areas.

In 2009 the club also did major repairs to the east end of the big dike which had been leaking badly for years.. This area will also provide a new location to run dogs from.

In 2010 and 2011 high spring runoff resulted in the far south dike being partially washed out and the north dike being totally breached. Work will be done on these in 2012.

The Helena Retriever Club was incorporated in 1947 and in 1972 reorganized as the Treasure State Retriever Club. The Butte Retriever Club joined the TSRC in 1979. The Helena Retriever Club first held field trials in Ennis and later in Townsend. The first trial at Elk Park was held in the early 1980’s. The club now hosts a hunt test in June, and field trials in July and September.

Grounds are available to members for training and an out of state membership is available for training up to three weeks of the year. Use of the grounds by pros is on an individual case basis.

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