Arville Lammers bought a stagecoach. He expected to take about 100 hours to renovate and restore it, beginning his project two years ago as a way to get through a six-month stint of chemotherapy. His plans and expectations were found to be a way off the mark. Nonetheless he finished the task, kept himself going during some “tough times,” and has the Careless Creek Stageline Stagecoach to show for the work.
In February of 2005, he tackled the old stagecoach which had belonged at one time to Cody Stage Express. He first separated coach from carriage. The military carriage, built in the late 1800s in Pennsylvania, needed some work and repair (rebuild of one front wheel), sanding and repainting. But, the real work was with the coach itself.
Friend David Voldseth came over to help out when it was time to work on the Wells Fargo style coach. The two discovered that “the whole superstructure of the coach was gone” and a huge task of reproduction rather than restoration began. Arville enlisted the help of family as well as friends to accomplish his large task.
The project got him up in the morning during his medical trials and the work progressed, even though, “I didn’t think I would ever get it done.” Brother Leon thought likewise. Arville had the stagecoach completed by June 2005 in time for the first guests of the summer season at Careless Creek Ranch Getaway.
Lammers made almost weekly stage runs, some up to seven miles long, throughout that summer. Stage trails, which used to connect Billings and Fort Benton, crisscross the Lammers Ranch near old Hedgesville making for a perfect spot to resurrect a “stage line.”
Besides learning some special woodworking (oak, cherry, and pine) skills (including steaming wood for the frame) to put together a coach reproduction, Arville had to buy a team of horses and learn how to drive them. He purchased a team of 9-year-olds from the Lone Mountain Guest Ranch in Bozeman and enlisted Larry Rice of Denton and Gene Taber of Shawmut to teach him the fine points of running a team. Lammers had practiced with his team and rig ten times before appearing in the 2005 Harlowton 4th of July Rodeo Parade. The parade was a bit of a test. Larry brought his own pair of horses down for that weekend to make for a four-horse team.
Arville Lammers is a man of many skills, who is developing more even now as he approaches retirement. Wearing a black stetson with a 163rd Cavalry insignia on it, he gives the distinct impression of a Civil War officer ready to mount his steed and ride off to battle. Real life has not been too far from that mode, at times.
Lammers grew up on the family ranch near Hedgesville and graduated from Harlowton High. He went off to Montana State University on a football scholarship and studied ag business and production. He returned to ranching after three years at Bozeman and continued with the Montana National Guard which he had joined when he was a junior in high school. Arville was a trained artillery and cavalry officer, spending 21 years in the Guard and retiring as a major from Headquarters, 163rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.
Lammers has a special interest in the air as well as land which led him to become a pilot. Not in the military, but on his own time. He owned three different airplanes over the years and last flew in 1996. Arville is looking to pick up flying again, one of these days.
While ranching and working the Montana soil has consumed much of his life, Arville was drawn away to Texas in the mid 90s. Having invested in a plastics business in Houston, he and wife Elaine eventually moved there. Lammers’s engineering interests were brought to life as he became head of marketing for the Landfill Division of Environmental Products, Inc. After four years, however, Arville parted ways with steaming Texas and gladly returned to quiet central Montana.
Ranching is only part of Careless Creek Ranch and Arville Lammers’s present work and interest. Since returning from Texas, Careless Creek Pipeline Company designs, sells and installs plastic pipelines to provide summer water for ranchers and farmers. CCPC offers HDP (high density polyethylene) pipe in 1 to 65-inch sizes. In a recent summer, they laid 180,000 feet of pipe. Last year, CCPC laid 90,000 feet. (Pipe is guaranteed for fifty years.)
Arville designed his own pipe plow for the operation - which uses a 3-point hitch which can be mounted on any 120-horsepower tractor. He also designed a special pipe trailer. The two in tandem can lay up to 2000 foot rolls of 3-inch pipe to a depth of 15 inches. Pipe joints are welded (heat fused).
Another business venture arises out of Careless Creek hosting hunters since 1985. Arville and Elaine built a lodge for that purpose in 1993. Then with the help of Leon and Margaret, the Lammers opened the Ranch Getaway for summer business in 1997. In 2000, the group brought in a consultant and proceeded with a lodge addition.
The Guest Ranch business, however, closed in 2006 to allow the Lammers to better enjoy their retirement or semi-retirement. Elaine left her job of several years at the Post Office in Harlowton a few months ago. The Guest Ranch Lodge is still available for rent for special occasions and events.
Arville Lammers has been active over the years in many civic capacities and almost ran for legislature once. He was on the Harlowton School Board, a supervisor for the Upper Musselshell Conservation District, director for Montana Woolgrowers, and national director for the American Sheep Industry. Lammers also helped form the Harlowton Flying Club, years ago. Arville has been for many years one of the local Chamber of Commerce’s representatives to Russell Country Tourism Group.
Arville and Elaine have two children, a son in Havre and daughter in Seattle, and six grandchildren including triplet granddaughters.
The Horizons Program has pushed Arville Lammers back into community involvement. He will be pushing the ‘GREEN GROUP’ as they explore the possibility of building a conference center in Harlowton. Time for the Next Stage.