Sheridan’s Moriah Motel gets new owners

Mark and Shirley Johnson bring experience to Sheridan institution

SHERIDAN—The Moriah Motel has been in search of new owners for several months, but when Mark Johnson first drove down the Ruby Valley in June, he knew he’d come to the right place.

“I knew driving down that if the motel was anything like the rest of the valley, it was a done deal,” Johnson says. 

Johnson and his wife, Shirley, have managed motels and other businesses for years, in spots all over the United States. Their most recent move brings them to Sheridan from Florida, where they spent seven years.

“But with the heat and humidity down there, it was about six years too long,” laughs Shirley. After time in large cities like Chicago, Phoenix and Denver, the pair was ready for something smaller and quieter. 

While looking for a new endeavor, the two would alternate exploring different regions of the country, visiting towns and exploring management opportunities. One would fly out, drive through a few states and report back to the other.

Mark’s trip in June included Idaho and Wyoming as well as Montana. He flew into Bozeman, began the drive toward Sheridan and immediately liked what he saw. Before he even got on the plane home he’d put in a contract to buy the Moriah.

“Sheridan is so beautiful and so quiet,” he says. “It’s just the change of pace we needed.”

The Johnsons plan to keep the Moriah the Sheridan Main Street institution it has been for years. They plan to do some remodeling work in the future, but for now they’re focusing on unpacking from the 2,700-mile cross-country move, which they did over eight days with their two Catahoula leopard dogs. 

They arrived in Sheridan in early August and jumped directly into work; the motel is open, although frequently full in the characteristic rush of Ruby Valley summer visitors. 

It’s been a hectic few weeks for the two of them, but they feel like they’re in the right place.

“We’re just really looking forward to meeting more people in the community,” says Shirley. “It’s a great place, and we want to get invested.”

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The Madisonian

65 N. MT Hwy 287
Ennis, MT 59729

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