Friday, August 31, 2012

Aug. 31 – On this day in Montana history in 1953 Montanans experienced their first television commercial. KXLF owned by famous broadcaster Ed Craney in Butte moved the station’s only camera to the street where automobiles for sale by the Wilson Motor Company were paraded by it as an announcer described them. Depending on your point of view, the ad was said to be successful and millions more were to follow.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Aug. 30 – On this day in Montana history in 1901 one of the worst train wreck disasters in Montana and U.S. history occurred near Kalispell when 28 cars broke loose from a train stopped for water, and crashed into another train. Thirty-four people were killed in the wreck, many of them burned alive in the fire that quickly engulfed the wreckage.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Aug. 29 – On this day in Montana history in 1916 actor George Montgomery was born on a farm near Great Falls. One of his favorite things to do when young was to sneak in to the Mint Saloon and look at the Charlie Russell paintings there. He starred in many films including Riders of the Purple Sage and the Battle of the Bulge. He was married to singer Dinah Shore for 25 years.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Aug. 28 – On this day in Montana history in 1878 the first corporate use of a telephone took place at the Hecla Mine. It was a project of the Stuart, Cable City and Phillipsburg Telegraph and Telephone Co. Stuart was located near Opportunity in Deer Lodge County, and Cable City was in Warm Spring Canyon. The Hecla mine was west of Melrose. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Aug. 27 – On this day in Montana history in 1864 the first newspaper published in Montana Territory, the Montana Post, hit the streets of the gold boom town of Virginia City. Although Thomas Dimsdale is often credited with being the first editor of the Post, the first four issues were edited by John Buchanan. Dimsdale was hired as editor for the fifth issue. The paper was moved to Helena in 1868 with the discovery of gold there. All of the extant issues of the Post and 95 percent of all the newspapers ever published in Montana are available at the Montana Historical Society. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Aug. 24 – On this day in Montana history in 1975 Libby Dam on the Kootenai River in northwestern Montana was dedicated. It was called the “key element” for plans to develop the Columbia River Basin for flood control, power generation, and recreation. It also destroyed historic Native American sites and had a major impact on fish and wildlife. The total cost was  nearly half-a-billion dollars.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Aug. 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1866 a heavily guarded wagon with $1.5 million in gold left Helena for Fort Benton. Most of it was taken from Last Chance Gulch, and it showed that what became the Capitol City was overtaking Virginia City as the territory’s new gold capital.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Aug. 22 – On this day in Montana history in 1870 the Washburn Expedition led by Lt. Gustavus Doane set out from Fort Ellis near Bozeman to explore the nearby wilderness area reported to be filled with geysers and other natural wonders. They verified what were thought to be the tall tales mountain men about the area. While sitting around a campfire, the group had the first discussion about setting aside the area for what eventually became Yellowstone National Park – the first in the world.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Aug. 21 – On this day in Montana history in 1884 an incident occurred that reminds us that domestic violence has long been a serious problem. A couple identified only as Mr. and Mrs. Westlake got into a family fight in Butte and Mrs. Westlake was knocked off a veranda suffering severe injuries. “Mr. Westlake, unfortunately, was not hurt,” the Weekly Herald reported. Later he tried to take his own life in jail. The headline called it “Domestic Discord.”

Monday, August 20, 2012

Aug. 20 – On this day in Montana history in 1883 President Chester Arthur arrived with his party at Mammoth Hot Springs. Montana journalists had a little fun with the “big city” group: “They were all very much fatigued with the journey on horseback to which they were unused.” Reports that Arthur was ill were “untrue, as he was only fatigued from travelling, and is otherwise in the best of health.”

Friday, August 17, 2012

Aug. 17 – On this day in Montana history in 1959 at 11:37 p.m. a “night of terror” began in the Madison River Canyon. A massive earthquake struck killing 28 campers in rock slides and resulting flooding causing more than $11 million in damage as well. It created Quake Lake which is a lasting reminder of that terrible night.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Aug. 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1972 pioneering cattle woman Susan Haughian died at age 84 in Miles City. She and her husband Dan came to the state from Ireland to establish a homestead near Miles City in 1905. In 1931 Dan died leaving the ranch to Susan and their 10 children. She survived some difficult years, and made some shrewd business decisions. By the 1950s she had grown her ranch to 90,000 acres and became a very wealthy woman. She once said in her Irish accent: “If ye don’t have land, ye’re a drifter.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Aug. 15 – On this day in Montana history in 1953 the first television station in Montana went on the air in Butte. Legendary television pioneer Ed Craney actually put on a test pattern on his KXLF at ten minutes before midnight on Aug. 14 but programming didn’t begin until the next day. The reason he hurried the opening of his station was that KOPR in Butte was in a race to become the first in the state.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Aug. 14 – On this day in Montana history in 1908 the railroad town of Taft on the far western edge of the state was consumed in a fire of near biblical proportions. News accounts described the town this way: “Women of the underworld, gamblers etc. flocked to the mushroom railroad town, and it was soon a place of about 1,000 inhabitants.” The town was rebuilt but once again was leveled by fire in 1910.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Aug. 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1920 eastern Montana was “a buzz” with talk of “aerial mail service.” The Broadus Independent said “as a direct result of the activity of the Chamber of Commerce” that Broadus had been designated a station on the branch aerial mail route from Cheyenne, Wyo., all the way to Miles City. Air mail was the e-mail of its day.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Aug. 10 – On this day in Montana history in 1906 Bozeman was preparing to celebrate the first Sweet Pea Festival. It was hailed as “the prettiest” event in the history of the state. Festival Lord High Chancellor John Luce proclaimed: “For the first time in the history of the state of Montana a carnival has been inaugurated, and its citizens have laid aside the cares and responsibilities of business for a day to indulge in fun and frolic and the worship of the beautiful.”    

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Aug. 9 – On this day in Montana history in 1877 Lt. James Bradley came upon an encampment of Nez Perce led by Chief Joseph that were moving across Montana in an attempt to seek freedom in Canada. In what became known as the Battle of the Little Big Hole near Missoula, Bradley charged the camp and lost 31 men including himself,  with 39 wounded. The Nez Perce lost about 90 men women and children but beat off the attack and escaped. It was one of the most devastating battles of the Indian wars in the West.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Aug. 8 – On this day in 1920 K. Ross Toole, the father of the modern Montana Historical Society, was born in Missoula. In 1951 after graduating from UCLA Toole became director of the newly reorganized Montana Historical Society and put it on the national history map with among other things the acquisition of the Mackay collection of Charlie Russell artwork and the construction of the current home of the Society and its museum across from the Capitol. He wrote “Uncommon Land” and went on to become a professor at the University of Montana and a preeminent leader in Montana history.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Aug. 7 – On this day in 1958 the Missoula Timberjacks celebrated a 14 to 5 come from behind win in baseball against the Havana Cuban Giants in a game played in Kalispell. This was a good will tour before the days of the Cuban trade and travel sanctions and the two teams played the next night in Libby. It was not reported whether the Americans celebrated by lighting up any Cuban cigars.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Aug. 6 – On this day in Montana history in 1929 internationally known author Mary MacLane, whose “The Story of Mary MacLane” created a sensational stir with its then shocking account of morality and everyday life in the mining city of Butte, died. The book was translated into more than 30 languages and made MacLane into an international celebrity. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Aug. 3 – On this day in Montana history in 1949 the Montana Historical Society received one of the rarest books in the world of which only eight were printed. The Cheyenne-English dictionary was created by a Swiss Mennonite missionary who came to the West in 1880. The five-inch thick volume took 11 years to compile. It is still used by researchers today.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Aug. 2 – On this day in Montana history in 1917 labor organizer Frank Little was found hanging from a trestle under a bridge in Butte. A 3-7-77 vigilante warning was attached to his body. Although it remains officially an unsolved murder, thousands of workers turned out for Little’s funeral and had no doubt that the Anaconda Company was behind it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Aug. 1 – On this day in Montana history in 1934 Landusky was gearing up for the Little Rockies Rodeo. “Cowboys from the badland brakes and from the Indian reservation, where such stunts as bronc riding and calf roping are a part of the day’s work, will compete for prizes.” The paper talked about amenities, but Mrs. “Tex” Fletcher deserved some kind of trophy for her part in the event. She was “serving a fried chicken dinner each day.”