Sept. 30 – On this day in Montana history in 1911 young aviator Cromwell Dixon in a Curtiss biplane crossed the main range of the Rocky Mountains for the first time in history. He had left from the fairgrounds in Helena. He flew to Blossburg in half an hour and delivered a message from Gov. Edwin Norris to the crowd there that stated that its delivery was the proof of the record setting event. Air mail came later, but this might have been one of the first air mail deliveries.
Friday, September 27, 2013
Sept. 27 – On this day in Montana history in 1870 Henry Comstock shot himself in the head and died dead broke and alone in a shack near Bozeman. Ironically, his name is associated with the famous Comstock Lode in Nevada. Although he was part owner of a claim that others found silver on, he bragged so much about it that the whole area became known as the Comstock Lode. It yielded 400 million dollars in precious metals, but Comstock sold his share for $11,000 which he soon squandered away. His grave marker still stands near Bozeman.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Sept. 26 – On this day in Montana history in 1910 the first successful public flight in the state of Montana was made at the Montana State Fair Grounds in Helena. Pilot J.C. “Bud” Mars made two successful flights in his Curtiss plane. The flights dispelled skepticism of many who doubted it would be possible for a plane to take off at Helena’s altitude of 4,157 feet.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Sept. 25 – On this day in Montana history in 1963 President John F. Kennedy came to Billings and was greeted by 17,000 cheering people at the Midlands Empire fairgrounds. He spoke of many things, but most on his mind was the recently passed nuclear test ban treaty. “We now have a chance for a more secure existence,” he told the crowd. On the platform with Kennedy were Sens. Mike Mansfield and Lee Metcalf and Gov. Tim Babcock.
Sept. 24 – On this day in Montana history in 1841 Father Pierre Jean DeSmet planted a cross on the banks of what is now the Bitterroot River in western Montana establishing the historic mission known as St. Mary’s of the Rockies. One can call it coincidence or divine providence, but DeSmet came to Montana from Council Bluffs on the Missouri River after meeting Native Americans from the Flathead country who were on their way to St. Louis to plead for a “black robe” to bring “powerful medicine” to their people. DeSmet went with them to St. Louis and convinced Catholic officials there to allow him to return with his new found friends.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Sept. 20 – On this day in Montana history in 1942 quotas were established by the War Production Board in Helena for all Montana counties to save kitchen fat. Advertisements appeared across the state urging housewives to “Save Waste Fats for Explosives” for the World Was Two effort. It was said that 3 pounds of fat could provide enough glycerin to make a pound of gunpowder.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Sept. 19 – On this day in Montana history in 1933 the Santa Rita oil pipeline began carrying most of the oil in the Cut Bank oil field to the rails near Cut Bank. The Montana Oil and Mining Journal reported that the cost to producers to get oil to the market was cut from about 40 cents per barrel, which had been the cost to using trucks, to 28 cents per barrel using the new pipeline. The economy of the area was booming.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Sept. 18 – On this day in Montana history in 1955 the death of Maggie Smith Hathaway, who was one of Montana’s first two women legislators, was reported in Montana. She died in Tacoma, Wash., As a representative from Ravalli County she served in the Legislature from 1916 to 192215, 16 and 17 Montana Legislatures and was elected the same year as Emma Ingals of Flathead County. If you want to read more about her, her life story “Maggie and Montana” published in 1954 by MSU political Science professor Harold Tacher is available In the MHS Research Center.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Sept. 17 – On this day in Montana history in 1945 Philip Douglas Jackson was born in Deer Lodge. Jackson, better known as Phil, went on to graduate from the University of North Dakota and to basketball fame as a player for the New York Knicks and later as a coach for the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers winning championships at all three stops. He also wrote books including “Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior,” which delved into his Zen influenced philosophy of life and basketball.
Monday, September 16, 2013
Sept. 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1926 Sarah Bickford, a black woman who owned the Virginia City water system, brought suit against the city for failing to pay its bills for rental of city water hydrants. She eventually was successful and ran the mining city’s water system until her death in 1931. She was a groundbreaker for black people in the state and a respected business leader.