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Enormous Montana ranch, once a hideout for Soviet defector, lists for $21.7M

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Enormous Montana ranch, once a hideout for Soviet defector, lists for $21.7M


A sprawling property with a movie-worthy USSR connection has hit the market for the first time in more than 70 years. 

Known as Rocking Chair Ranch, the 7,200-plus-acre expanse is located across the road from the old mining town of Philipsburg, Montana, and has been in the Vietor family since 1952, Mansion Global first reported. 

In addition to offering more than 11 square miles of terrain ranging from irrigated fields to conifer forest and riparian meadows, the estate  — which is seeking $21.7 million — also has a unique connection to Soviet Russia, thanks to ex-Soviet fighter pilot Viktor Belenko. 

The property is named Rocking Chair Ranch. Hall and Hall
The home is a working cattle ranch. Hall and Hall
The estate includes over 7,200 acres. Hall and Hall
There is a charming historic home on the property. Hall and Hall

In 1976, Belenko defected during a training exercise, flying his supersonic interceptor, the MiG-25 Foxbat, to Hokkaido, Japan, and seeking asylum in the US, Mansion Global reported. He quickly became a hero, and in addition to offering his plane to the US government, he also shared confidential information with them about the state of the Soviet military. 

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As thanks, “the CIA asked him where he wanted to live, and he said somewhere in the western part of the country on a ranch,” Willy Vietor, a rancher and the Vietor family patriarch, told Mansion Global. “The CIA agent who knew my parents came up with us.”

And so Belenko came to live at Rocking Chair under an alias — but the Vietors quickly saw through it. 

Former Soviet pilot Viktor Belenko’s ID. Hum Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Lt. Viktor Ivanovich Belenko, Soviet pilot who defected by landing his super-secret fighter plane in Japan, leaves a commercial airline in Los Angeles on Sept. 9, 1976 with security agents. AP
A bedroom in the house. Hall and Hall
A view of the layout. Hall and Hall

“After he had been with us about a year, we connected the dots and realized he was one of the most valuable defectors the US had ever had,” said Vietor, who is 80 and selling the property because “we’ve hit a generational wall…There are no kids to take it over.”

He and his wife, Carolynn, will continue living on a 2,000-acre portion of the ranch that is not included in the current listing.

Belenko left the ranch in the early 1980s but would periodically visit. He passed away last year at the age of 76.  

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In addition to a “beautiful piece of earth,” as the listing puts it, Rocking Chair also comes with an array of buildings, all located near each other, that include a 3,800-plus-square-foot main house originally from 1932, various barns, a shop and a granary.

“One of the things that makes Rocking Chair Ranch unique is that a buyer does not have to make any sacrifices to their wish list. Usually, a buyer must choose between river, mountains and any number of other variables,” Bill McDavid of Hall and Hall, who shares the listing with Deke Tidwell, told The Post. “Rocking Chair Ranch covers it all … river to the mountains and everything in between.” 



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Montana

Man shoots and kills grizzly bear in Montana in self defense after it attacks

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Man shoots and kills grizzly bear in Montana in self defense after it attacks


7/19: CBS News 24/7 Episode 2

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7/19: CBS News 24/7 Episode 2

43:18

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A 72-year-old man shot and killed a grizzly bear in Montana after it charged and attacked him on Friday. He has since been hospitalized.

The man was reportedly out picking huckleberries when the confrontation occurred, according to a release from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. 

He used a handgun to kill the bear in what officials say was a “surprise defensive encounter.” The incident occurred approximately 2 miles north of Columbia Falls in Flathead County.

Montana officials said that an adult female grizzly bear was killed and that they are looking into whether there are any cubs present.

Earlier in the day, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks staff killed a separate grizzly bear after they received a report that it had broken into a home in Maiden Basin, according to a separate release from the agency. 

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Officials said that the bear had been involved in other recent incidents, including breaking into homes and stealing food in the Gardiner area, which serves as one of the entrances to Yellowstone National Park. No injuries were reported.



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Another Wrong Way Driver In Montana

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Another Wrong Way Driver In Montana


Are you kidding me? Just as I finish writing about a young, healthy 24-year-old young lady, Taylee Bornong, who was hit head on by a wrong way driver just outside of Livingston on July, 10th, another incident takes place.

In the case involving Taylee, 19 calls were made about seeing the person driving the wrong way, semi’s blasted their horns hoping to draw attention to the careless driver, and that didn’t stop the driver.

HELP TAYLEE’S FAMILY HERE

Just 9 days later, there is another incident involving a wrong way driver. This time, it was first reported outside of Three Forks, with a stop taking place by Logan.

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During the early morning hours of July 18th (2 AM), reports came in about someone driving the wrong way down Interstate 90.

The man was driving a stolen vehicle when he was reported to police for driving eastbound in the westbound lane.

An officer was notified of the reckless driving incident and was able to set up another officer down the road with the appropriate stopping tools. At mile marker 284, stop strips were set up and the vehicle was stopped.

What if the officers were not able to stop this man? How many more lives would have been put in danger?

Wrong way driving has become increasingly common this year and one of the major factors in these incidents is alcohol. On more than one occasion, alcohol has been detected in the system of the driver.

The city has put up more signs near interstate on and off ramps to try and prevent people from heading down the interstate at 70+mph going the wrong way. It seems like it did help as we went a couple of months without an incident, but now in July, less than two weeks apart, we have two wrong way driving incidents.

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What are the next steps we need to take to prevent this from happening?

11 Ways We’re Judging How You Drive in Montana

Think you’re a good driver? Think again as you take a look at the 11 biggest driving pet peeves Montanans face each and every day. Thanks to a Lending Tree survey commissioned by QuestionPro, we now know the 11 Ways We’re Judging How You Drive in Montana. See the link in the #1 entry for additional pet peeves and complete methodology.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow





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Millions of dollars continue to pour into Montana U.S. Senate race

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Millions of dollars continue to pour into Montana U.S. Senate race


HELENA — Tens of millions of dollars had already poured into Montana’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race even before the June primary election. This week, we got the latest update on how much has been raised and spent since.

The last campaign finance reports for congressional candidates in the state, covering April 1 to May 15, were due 12 days before the primary. In the six weeks after that report, Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and Republican challenger Tim Sheehy brought in almost $10 million more.

MTN News

Tester’s campaign reported raising $6.4 million between May 15 and July 1, bringing his total since the start of 2023 to $39.2 million. Tester spent another $7.3 million over that period and has spent a total of $31.2 million during this election cycle. His campaign still had more than $10.8 million in the bank.

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Sheehy reported bringing in more than $3.1 million during the same period, including a $400,000 personal loan. He’s raised a total of $13.7 million since launching his campaign last summer, and he’s put in $2.6 million of his own money. Sheehy’s campaign has spent $2.1 million over the period and $10.4 million overall, and they had $3.2 million in cash on hand.

Tim Sheehy July

MTN News

While the two candidates have spent millions on their own, that’s only part of the picture in an election that could play a key role in which party controls the U.S. Senate.

As of this week, the Federal Election Commission’s website reported outside groups had already made at least $7 million in independent expenditures supporting Sheehy and $2.1 million in opposition to Tester. Independent groups spent another nearly $350,000 for Tester and $4.7 million against Sheehy. Much more outside spending hasn’t yet been added to that total.

Also on the ballot for Montana’s U.S. Senate will be Libertarian candidate Sid Daoud and Green Party candidate Michael Downey. Neither had a campaign finance report posted to the FEC website as of Thursday. Candidates do not have to file those reports until they raise or spend more than $5,000.

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