June 30 – On this day in Montana history in 1941 newspapers proudly announced that “Montana formally added another natural wonder to its manifold vacationland attractions.” It was reported that hundreds of people attended the dedication ceremony hosted by Gov. Sam Ford. The park is now known as Lewis and Clark Caverns near Three Forks. It was the first official Montana State Park.
Friday, June 27, 2014
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.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
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.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
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.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
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.
Monday, June 23, 2014
June 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1936 a major federally sponsored project to study and preserve local and county records from across the state for historical purposes was well underway. In addition to identifying and copying important records and learning more about such things as “the private life of Calamity Jane” and other famous Montanans, officials reported that the effort had sparked formation of local history groups across the state. All of the work from the project was passed on to the Montana Historical Society where it is still used today.
Friday, June 20, 2014
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.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
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.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
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.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
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.
Monday, June 16, 2014
June 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1916 the Wibaux Pioneer was reporting “Happenings on Circus Day.” The circus was a huge event at the turn of the last century. And the paper in back hand fashion was praising its workers – sort of. One of the workers nearly lost his leg when a wagon ran over him, but the paper noted “The circus people gladly paid the Doctor’s bill.” Another incident had “some smart fellow” whom the paper reported “got Gay with one of the female performers who was on crutches.” She hit the man on the “bean” with her crutch and it took many stitches to sew up the wound. “The victim left with an idea that it was an expensive proposition to insult even a circus woman.”
Friday, June 13, 2014
June 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1896 Gen. “Black” Jack Pershing, who became a famous U.S leader in World War One and had the Pershing tank named in his honor, led cavalry Company D from Fort Assinniboine on a surprise raid of a Cree encampment outside of Great Falls. His company remained in the field for two months working to force Native Americans back on to reservations. Although his actions would be questioned by many today, most Montanans continued to Call Pershing ”Montana’s own” throughout his military career.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
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.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
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.”
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
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!
Monday, June 9, 2014
June 9 – On this day in Montana history in 1948 Butte leaders were congratulating themselves on the successful parade and speech the day before by President Harry Truman who had come to town on his presidential campaign. Thousands turned out for the events. Presidential aides said that they were by far the largest crowds the president attracted on his trip through the West.