For Sale: The Only Bar in a 14-Person Montana Town

The historic bar has been a meeting point for area cowhands and sheepherders for nearly a century.

The historic bar has been a meeting point for area cowhands and sheepherders for nearly a century. WINEGIRL834/USED WITH PERMISSION

IF YOU BUY THE JERSEY Lilly, you’ll own the biggest business in the town of Ingomar, Montana. That’s because it is, in fact, the only business in Ingomar. You’ll also be the town’s 14th resident.

The century-old building has survived two World Wars, the Great Depression, and a fire that nearly wiped Ingomar off the map. Owners June Nygren and Boots Kope will be damned if they have to shutter its doors because no one can pony up the $225,000 for this historic bar. “I’m just hoping somebody will say, ‘You know what, I wanna be away from it all.’ This is a spectacular place to do that,” says Nygren. The nearest town, Forsyth, is “only” 44 miles away. “That’s really close in Montana, trust me.”

June Nygren was introduced to her long-time partner, Boots Kope, after her 10-year-old son "quizzed him down," she says, right here in the Jersey Lilly.
June Nygren was introduced to her long-time partner, Boots Kope, after her 10-year-old son “quizzed him down,” she says, right here in the Jersey Lilly. COURTESY OF LARRY MAYER FOR THE BILLINGS GAZETTE

The Jersey Lilly was the town’s first brick building, built in 1914 as the first bank of a very different Ingomar. Once a major hub of sheep-shearing, Ingomar exported 2 million pounds of wool annually, employing and housing an unthinkable 600 residents. A lightning fire in 1921 razed every building in the promising yet flammable frontier town, except the brick-built bank. The ensuing Great Depression quickly shuttered the only surviving business, scattering the remainder of Ingomar’s residents to the winds of the Great Plains until only a handful of sheepherders remained.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/cool-bar-montana