It’s been more than a century since Andrew Jackson Corbett, a.k.a., the “Belgrade Bull,” bested every cowboy who ever tried to ride him – or so the legend goes.
While not widely known, the story of the animal has been recounted through the years in written accounts of Belgrade’s history, and more recently in a 2018 Belgrade News article. That didn’t satisfy longtime resident Keith Mainwaring, who spearheaded the effort to visually immortalize Andrew Jackson Corbett in a mural for all the town to enjoy.
The result is now displayed on the Montana Camp building at 26 East Main.
Mainwaring says he came up with the idea for the project after remembering the story of the Belgrade Bull that he had heard years before.
“I thought that wall needed some attention,” he said in an interview this week, shortly after the mural, created by Belgrade artist Wendy Marquis, was hung. “I thought, ‘Bozeman has a mural, why can’t Belgrade have one?’ ” Mainwaring said he approached the Belgrade Community Coalition, which sponsored the project and helped with encouragement and publicity. The Coalition, in turn, credits Mainwaring not only with the idea for the project but for his countless hours fund-raising and seeing the project to completion.
The mural features not only a portrait of Andrew Jackson Corbett, but also three other iconic images from Belgrade’s history - the Story Elevator formerly known as “Bid Red,” which (now white) still stands on East Main; the Quaw Mansion, which once stood on the site of present-day City Hall; and a train, acknowledging Belgrade’s strong ties to the rail industry, past and present.
Intentionally incorporating those elements of the town’s history into a period representation was intentional, says Marquis.
“The design is based on vintage
posters from the era of the late 1890s,” she said. “I thought I should design it of that era.”
Appreciative of that effort is Jason Karp, Belgrade city planner and a local history buff. He says that the era in which the Belgrade Bull lived was similar in some ways to what residents are experiencing today.
“When the Belgrade Bull was just getting started, the town was going through a boom then, kind of like it is now,” he says, noting that the thumbnail images incorporated into the mural help incorporate local history and flavor.
“I think Wendy did a great job on the painting, and I think it turned out really nice,” Karp said. “It’s a neat well-done thing. Everybody is super positive about it.”