Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 31 -- On this day in Montana history in 1934 Robert Yellowtail was installed as superintendent of the Crow Reservation. What made the event unique was that Yellowtail was a member of the Crow Tribe, and it is believed that he was one of the first tribal members in the nation to become a superintendent of a reservation. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

July 30 – On this day in Montana history in 1931 the Hingham American carried a prayer from a local Hill County minister: “Oh, Lord, we pray thee in accordance with the request of this people that Thou send the rain to make their crops flourish, bring forth fruit abundantly; but, oh Lord, thou knowest as I know, as they ought to know, that what they need is good plowing, better cultivation and more summerfallowing, Amen.”  There was a minister using God and science to make the Montana land produce.

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 27 – On this day in Montana history in 1906 the Carbon County Joliet Journal reported that a “game of baseball between Joliet and Carbonado proved a sensational and spectacular event.”  Proving that taunting and “dissing” opponents is nothing new, the paper said “the Carbonado team was handicapped from the start on account of having became used to pitching hay and plowing beets.” It said the score “stood 2 to 24” when “the Joliet runners became so tired they could run no more.”

Thursday, July 26, 2012

July 26 – On this day in Montana history in 1810 fur trapper Pierre Menard arrived in St. Louis after exploring the Montana wilderness less than five years after it had been traveled by Lewis and Clark. A letter written by Menard to his brother-in-law Pierre Choteau, which among other things discusses the dangers of trapping at Three Forks due to hostile Native American attacks, is the earliest documentation in the collections of the Montana Historical Society regarding the U.S. attempts to open the area to the fur trade. Ironically, it is written in French.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 25 – On this day in Montana history in 1806 William Clark carved his name into the rock on Pompy’s Pillar on the Yellowstone River near what is now Billings. The inscription, “Wm Clark July 25 1806,” is the only permanent record left along the route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In his journal, Clark noted that the “Indians” had built two stone piles on the rock, which we now know is sacred to the Crow.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 24 – On this day in Montana history in 1902 W.T. Hornaday of the New York Zoological Society and now famous Miles City photographer  L.A. Huffman found the fossil remains of a “gigantic lizard” on MacScriber’s ranch on Hell Creek near the Missouri River that measured 37 feet in length. Hornaday would later shoot and use taxidermy to record the last free-ranging buffalo in Montana.   

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1918 the Bozeman Weekly Courier had a big headline: High-Class Entertainment Is Object of Chautauqua.” Opening the next day it claimed to be one of the first held in Montana. “Every man, woman and child who misses the sessions will miss something that should be seen.” Lectures, band music, magicians and other attractions at the Chautauqua would “Replace the old-fashioned street carnival and its vulgarities,” the paper predicted.

Friday, July 20, 2012

July 20 --  On this day in Montana history in 1893 the temperature hit a blistering 117 degrees in Glendive. The Glendive Independent quipped in its report of the record heat wave: “Don’t the Bible say something about burning up, brethren of the press?”

Thursday, July 19, 2012

July 19 – On this day in Montana history in 1913 the AAA Glidden trophy was presented to Dr. J. D. Park of Duluth, Minn., who beat out several other competitors in a harrowing reliability road trip by automobile from Minneapolis to Glacier National Park. The trip took nine days and put the national park on the map as a drivable destination for motorists. Park’s Locomobile  beat out a Hupmobile for the prize.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 18 – On this day in Montana history in 1860 Capt. John Mullan and his party of road builders were on top of the Continental Divide at what is now called Mullan Pass west of Helena. They were talking about the solar eclipse that had forced them to end work briefly. Mullan built the first road from Fort Benton to Helena and on to the West Coast.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 17 – On this day in Montana history in 1920 The Butte Miner ran a story on rancher C.D. Harper and his quest to change his life. “Chicago’s the place to find a wife. The thing that is troubling me now is how to pick one from all these answers,” he told the paper. Dozens of letters had been sent in response to an ad he ran seeking a wife in the Windy City. “I’ve got a car and I keep five men employed all the year around. I’d get my wife a hired girl and she wouldn’t have to kill herself working,” he said. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1936 headlines across the state mirrored those of today. “State Drought Loss Computed in Mounting Millions of Dollars” the Daily Interlake streamed. Wheat losses were estimated at $6 million and rising, 750,000 cattle in the eastern third of the state were being moved to market and railroads were offering special rates to move sheep to better areas for pasture. Similar stories were appearing across the Midwest and West.

Friday, July 13, 2012

July 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1941 12-year-old Terry Palo won the soapbox derby held at Great Falls. More than 1,500 people lined Central Avenue to watch the event. Even then controversy was a part of racing. One young driver was disqualified for having an “illegal steering apparatus.” Palo said afterwards that he hadn’t ever driven a real car, but wanted to become “a racing pilot and drive on the Indianapolis speedway.” Helena held Soap Box races as early as 1936.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July 12 – On this day in Montana history in 1923 in the Cabinet Mountains forest in western Montana Ranger Howard Larsen had a harrowing experience with a grizzly bear. While blazing a trail armed with only a small marking axe, the bear charged Larsen, who managed to scramble up a tree. The bear followed and managed to get a paw on the ranger’s boot and tear it off before it fell to the ground. The incident rekindled the argument about whether bears should be considered game animals, or killed off as dangerous predators.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July 11 – On this day in Montana history in 1861 the river boat Chippewa blew up at what became known as Disaster Bend on the Missouri when it was nearing the end of its trip to Fort Benton. The disaster blew goods intended for Native Americans more than three miles away. Perhaps in some strange form of justice, the accident occurred when a deck hand with a candle was trying to get a drink from illegal whiskey being smuggled for the Indian trade. He set off 25 kegs of black powder in the hold. Captain Joseph LaBarge was one of the victims. It was LaBarge who in 1859 took the first steamship all the way to Fort Benton.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 10 – On this day in Montana history in 1894 units of the 22nd Infantry arrived in Livingston to open the Northern Pacific Railroad lines and stop what had become a nationwide railroad strike known as the Pullman Strike. Capt. B.C. Lockwood reportedly said upon the arrival of his troops: “I am running this town.”  It was a harbinger of the major labor strikes that were coming in the next century.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 9 – On this day in Montana history in 1930 more than 15,000 people from across the state and even Canada gathered near Wolf Point to dedicate the first Missouri River bridge in eastern Montana.  It was described as a modern transportation wonder, but the people knew that it would bring them closer together and change the way they lived. As one journalist put it: “Seen at a distance of 15 miles this massive structure appears as vaporous as the ethereal substance of which dreams are made.”

Friday, July 6, 2012

July 6 – On this day in Montana history in 1964 Gallatin County authorities were investigating  a “mob rampage” in West Yellowstone that saw about 30 residents of the community using ax handles against what was called a “mob of about 1,000 teenagers and college-age young people” who had come to the town to celebrate the Fourth of July.  “Illegal possession of beer” was seen as the cause of the incident that saw several fires, many tipped over outdoor toilets and other damage. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 5 – On this day in Montana history in 1884 Lewistown law officials were trying to sort out a variety of crimes including the death of two “desperate characters” that attempted to “hold up the town.” The incidents were confusing and news accounts offered different versions. But the headline in the Mineral Argus put it best: “A lively Fourth will go into history as the first in Lewistown, and the most thrilling in the United Sates in 1884.”

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4 –On this day in Montana history in 1923 Shelby held the first and only national boxing championship in the Treasure State. A special wooden arena was constructed for the event between Jack Dempsey and challenger Tommy Gibbons. Dempsey won the fight. The ring bell used in that fight is on display in the Montana Historical Society Museum.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

July 3 --  On this day in Montana history in 1901 Kid Curry, whose real name was Harvey Logan and was one of the Hole in the Wall Gang, held up the Great Northern train near Malta. As in the famous movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” Logan had trouble blowing up the safe, and had to increase the dynamite he used in three different tries before blowing the money car up. But he got away with more than $100,000 -- a lot of money in those days.

Monday, July 2, 2012

July 2 – On this day in Montana History in 1872 William Wesley Van Orsdel who had just arrived at Fort Benton by steamboat was preaching a street corner sermon and beginning to build a legend all across Montana for his circuit-riding, missionary, educational efforts, health care and children’s activist work in Montana. He came to be known simply as Brother Van. When asked why he wanted to come to Montana he said: “To preach, to sing and encourage people to be good.”