Shep eternal: The magical life and afterlife of Fort Benton's world-famous, faithful dog

Ken Robison, Historian Overholser Historical Research Center

“Shep, one of the most famous dogs in the world is dead”— so reported the Fort Benton River Press on Jan. 14, 1942, 80 years ago.

In 1940, Bill Gue visited Fort Benton, where his father spent the summer working for the Great Northern Railroad. By then, Shep had become a celebrity thanks to “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.”

Courtesy of Bill Gue and Overhol

On Jan. 12, 1942, an aged Shep, likely with his hearing diminished, fell victim of an arriving train, struck and killed by the same Great Northern passenger train No. 235 that he had met countless times over his nearly six years of vigil, awaiting the return of his sheepherder master.

During those years of faithful waiting, Shep’s role in the Fort Benton community evolved. From an unwelcome stray dog to beloved worldwide children’s idol, Shep and the community changed together.

We all know Shep’s story — or do we?

How many of us know the rest of his remarkable story? How Shep became a global rockstar, still remembered and renown to

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