Feb. 27 – On this day in Montana History in 1943 Montana was reeling from a major explosion at the Smith Coal Mine near Red Lodge. Seventy-five miners went to work at the mine, and only three of them returned to the surface alive. Miners from as far away as Butte and even Salt Lake soon rushed to the mine for rescue and recovery work. It took eight days for the last body to be brought to the surface. Methane gas was eventually identified as the killer, but no one will ever know what sparked the explosion. Some miners had time to scribble notes before they died. Emil Anderson wrote in halting English: “It’s 5 minutes pass 11 o’clock, dear Agnes and children I’m sorry we had to go this God Bless you all. Emil with lots kiss.”
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Feb 26 – On this day in Montana history in 1912 the Livingston Daily Enterprise was writing about the new town of Wilsall as “a busy town with big prospects.” “People here seem very much interested in the new town and are not very well acquainted with it,” the paper noted. It wrote about the area’s rich farm land and its role as the terminus of the Northern Pacific branch road out of Livingston. In 1968 Wilsall was put on the world map when an extraordinary archaeological find of 13,000-year-old stone tools was discovered near the town. The tools are now on exhibit at the Montana Historical Society.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Feb. 25 – On this day in Montana history in 1906 Billings sports fans were gloating over their local high school basketball teams double victories over the team from Sheridan, Wyo. Sheridan had beaten the Billings team two week earlier on their home court, and some revenge seeped in with the story about the return games. “(They) will go home with two large goose eggs in their little basket that they brought up with them in which to convey the scalps of the local basketball players on their return trip,” a local sports writer opined. And we think rivalries in sports are tough today.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Feb. 24 – On this day in 1883 The Post newspaper in Billings proudly announced the creation of Yellowstone County. The headline said “Sound the Loud Timbrel;” “Billings a County Seat.” Noting the bitter political and social fight for creation of the county, the paper said: “We are at last cut loose from the Miles City Ring.” The art accompanying the story was a woodcut of a strutting rooster.
Monday, February 23, 2015
Feb. 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1906 the Billings Daily Gazette featured a story on the Billings Club calling it a “prominent organization.” The club was about to open its new location in the Stapleton Building that the paper described as “one of the most comfortable and most commodious homes of any club in this section of the northwest, with the possible exception of the Montana Club at Helena.” The Hart-Albin Company took the occasion to buy a large ad for the opening of its new department store noting that “one thousand cigars will be presented to men visitors.” Punch was served in the clothing department “under the auspices of Cass.”
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Dec. 31 – On this day in Montana history in 1918 the Helena Independent had a front page story bemoaning the death of “King Barrleycorn.” The town was abuzz with people marking the end of legal liquor and the beginning of prohibition. It was reported that most saloons had sold out their liquor supplies even before they had to close their doors at midnight.