June 28 – On this date in Montana history in 1982 a terrible hail storm with grapefruit-sized hail stones ripped apart the Capitol City of Helena. Insurance adjusters were called in from across the nation to deal with the thousands of insurance claims. Millions of dollars in damages resulted in the region -- from dented and windowless autos, to 35 heavily damaged National Guard helicopters, to crop damage. Roofer’s nails were still causing flat tires months later as nearly all roofs had to be repaired. Montana Historical Society personnel spent the night in the building protecting priceless artwork and collections when 47 windows were knocked out in the building.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
June 27 – On this date in Montana history in 1925 the first significant earthquake in the state’s recorded history occurred. It was centered near Three Forks and had a magnitude 6 on the Richter scale. It was felt throughout the state as well as in bordering states. It stranded trains, caused major property damage including destroying the courthouse in White Sulphur Springs, but resulted in only a few minor injuries to citizens.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
June 26 – On this day in Montana history in 2008 Crow historian Joe Medicine Crow was belatedly awarded the Bronze Star for his service in France in WWII and also made a knight of the French Legion of Honor by the French army. Medicine Crow said “it’chik” the Crow word for “very good.” French Counsul General Pierre-Francois Mourier said in ceremonies at Garryowen: “France has not forgotten – France will never forget – your sacrifices.” In addition to counting four coups in the war, Medicine Crow was honored for being the first American into Germany – a feat captured on film by a Stars and Stripes photographer. “I was the first American soldier to jump into Germany and an Indian Warrior at that,” Medicine Crow said.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
June 25 – On this day in Montana history in 1876 when the gun smoke cleared on the hills above the Little Big Horn River, Gen. George Armstrong Custer and about 260 of his men including his Indian Scouts lay dead. The Sioux called it the battle of Greasy Grass and it was the last major victory for Sitting Bull and the estimated 2,000 Sioux, Arapaho and Cheyenne warriors who had once called the area home.
Monday, June 24, 2013
June 24 – On this day in Montana history in 1966 Lou Fontana, a veteran of both World Wars and a nationally known high ranking professional boxer, died at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Helena. Born in Italy, Fontana came to Butte in 1918 and moved to Helena in 1932. He held 17 medals including two from France and Belgium for action in both World Wars. He fought 73 professional bouts and was ranked as high as eighth in the Featherweight division by Ring Magazine.
Friday, June 21, 2013
June 21 – On this day in Montana history in 1936 more than 100 elders of the Crow Tribe were gathered and honored at a ceremony in Poplar. The oldest honored was Bush Man who was 101. Reservation officials urged the elders to provide their knowledge and experience to help the tribe survive the Great Depression.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
June 20 – On this day in Montana history in 1921 the record for rainfall in a 24-hour period was set at 11.5 inches. It was recorded in Circle, and if you have been to Circle you know the odds against the record being set there are high. In fact, the average rainfall for the entire year in Circle is 13.3 inches. The resulting floods on the Redwater swept away homes and killed at least one person.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
June 19 – On this day in Montana History in 1938 emergency crews were searching through the wreckage and trying to recover bodies from the worst train disaster in Montana history. The legendary Milwaukee Railroad Olympian went off a bridge over the flooded Yellowstone River in Prairie County. Eventually, 24 dead bodies were identified in a temporary morgue in Miles City, and dozens others were injured.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
June 18 – On this day in Montana history in 1929 two masked men robbed the Ronan State Bank of $3,000 and shot two employees. They were part of a gang that reflected the “gangster” period in U.S. history. They used fast cars and well thought out getaway plans to elude local police. Eventually six men, including the two who held up the Ronan bank, were arrested and convicted of several other armed robberies across Montana. Perhaps showing that crime doesn’t pay, pack rats at their hideout ate $1,500 of the money taken in the Ronan heist.
Monday, June 17, 2013
June 17 – On this day in Montana History in 1832 Pierre Chouteau brought his steamship the Yellow Stone up the Missouri River to Fort Union on the eastern Montana border. It was the farthest steamships came up the Missouri for the next 28 years until shallow draft boats could make it all the way to Fort Benton. On board the ship that day in 1832 was artist George Catlin who became legendary for his paintings of Native American life in Montana and the West.
Friday, June 14, 2013
June 14 – June 14 – On this day in Montana history in 1988 the beginning of what was to become the most intense summer of fire in Yellowstone National Park began when lightning started a fire near the northeast entrance of the park. That summer at least six dry cold fronts carrying lightning and up to 60 mile an hour winds brought a conflagration down on the park.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
June 13 -- June 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1971 the Montana State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs celebrated their 50th Annual Convention in Great Falls. Elizabeth Hill of Great Falls was named the Woman of the Year. The Clubs motto, “We Climb” was the theme of the convention
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
June 12 – On this day in Montana history in 1962 a Northern Pacific passenger train packed with tourists returning from the Seattle World’s fair plummeted off the tracks and down an embankment at more than double its recommended speed 16 miles north of Missoula. One passenger was killed and another 243 were injured some critically. One official said it was travelling more than 70 miles an hour when it left the tracks.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
June 11 – On this day in Montana history in 1971 people gathered on Race Unity Day to talk about problems that continue to face the state and nation today. A panel was convened in Great Falls to talk about “Race Relations in Montana.” A proclamation by city officials called for all Montanans to “focus on the most challenging issue, the race problem.”
Monday, June 10, 2013
June 10 – On this day in Montana history in 1962 the Great Falls Tribune reported a major communications breakthrough: “direct long distance dialing.” The service connected 260 Montana communities and about 74 million more in the U.S. and Canada. It reportedly cost the Northern States Telephone Company of Great Falls about $1.3 million to install it. Even the cell phone had a granddaddy!
Friday, June 7, 2013
June 7 – On this day in Montana history in 1964 Montana was reeling from what at that time was called the worst natural disaster in its recorded history. Heavy rains in early June sent rivers raging to a mile wide in some areas with homes, dams, roads and railroads washed away and more than 30 people left dead. On June 7 alone 10 inches of rain fell in Browning, Glacier National Park and Augusta. President Lyndon Johnson declared nine counties in northwest and north-central Montana federal disaster areas, and damages eventually totaled more than $62 million.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
June 6 – Also on this day in 1917 a story circulated statewide about a woman from Columbus, Ohio, who sent a letter to Butte Mayor W.H. Maloney asking him to help her find a husband so she could do her part on the home front during WWI. “I want to do something for my country and at the same time for myself,” the woman wrote. “I want to be a war bride, but I want a western man for a husband, one who will ride a horse in France and distinguish himself. If possible get me a cowboy.”
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
June 5 – On this day in Montana history in 1917 the Billings Gazette featured a story on the great future envisioned for Rapelje. The town was being promoted by the Merchants Loan Company of Billings, and it shows how business played a major role in how Montana developed. “Good weather will see a boom at the new town of Rapelje, at the terminus of the Northern Pacific branch into Lake basin,” the paper said.