Beeskove fire has dubious namesake

We can’t blame Coyote Bill for this one.

The Beeskove fire that’s been burning up the Rattlesnake Valley for almost three weeks was lightning-caused. It got its name because it started on the southeast side of Rattlesnake Creek, 5½ air miles up from the trailhead, across from the mouth of Beeskove Creek.

Beeskove Creek was named that because of Karolus F. William Beeskove, who was known by roughly a dozen other names and reigned over the upper Rattlesnake, or tried to, for years before he went to prison for murder.

William “Coyote Bill” Beeskove (circa 1839-1916) claimed all the timber and mineral rights in the upper Rattlesnake and was especially enthralled with its iron prospects. He was said to imitate George Armstrong Custer right down to the buckskins and long, blond hair and beard, and he wielded a Sharps buffalo gun he called Betsy.

Many a neighbor and traveler stared Betsy in the face.

Referred to as a recluse, Beeskove apparently sought out the press whenever he came to town. In September 1901, the Missoulian noted his trip “was for the purpose of securing supplies to commence a campaign

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