July 18 – On this day in Montana history in 1934 The Blackfeet Tribe of Browning was receiving high praise for the musical performance its 23-member band gave at the Calgary Stampede. The band members were all graduates of Indian schools and colleges. They were about to embark on a tour of eastern Canada and the United States.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
July 17 – On this day in Montana history in 1860 Capt. John Mullan reached the summit of the Continental Divide west of what is now Helena. He had first been at this point six years before on a survey trip for the U.S. Army. This time he had a road building crew with him that was laying out the first overland route between Fort Benton – the terminus of Missouri River boat traffic – to Walla Walla and the gateway to the Columbia River. The pass is now known as Mullan Pass in his honor. The next day the crew experienced a solar eclipse.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
July 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1806 the William Clark and part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which had split up on its return trip, crossed the Bozeman Pass and began its descent on what is now known as the Yellowstone River. Clark reported in his diary that the current was rapid on the ”Rochejhone.” He was busy looking for a large cottonwood tree so that he could build a canoe that could navigate the water.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
July 15 – On this day in Montana history in 1933 the famous Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier National Park was dedicated. A crowd of about 5,000 people gathered at the summit of Logan Pass. Part of the event was a ceremony involving the Blackfeet, Kootenai and Flathead Tribes. Tribal leaders passed a peace pipe between them signifying an official end to traditional enmity that has separated the tribes. National Park Service Director Horace Albright the road gives all people access to see “the glory of Glacier’s peaks and crags.” In summary he said: let there be no completion of other roads with the Going to the Sun Highway. It should stand supreme and alone.” It still does.
Monday, July 14, 2014
July 14 – On this day in Montana history in 1910 The Western News in Libby reported that it has learned that the Milwaukee railroad was going to use Kootenai Pass for its new main line and that it would be completed within two years. The line was to leave the then present main line near Martinsdale and go north of Helena about 20 miles and then on to Spokane through Libby. That meant that Kalispell, Libby, Troy, Leonia, Bonners Ferry and Spokane would all be on the main line and economic prosperity would follow.
Friday, July 11, 2014
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.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
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.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
July 9 – On this day in Montana history in 1930 15,000 people turned out for the dedication of the first bridge over the Missouri River east of Fort Benton near Wolf Point. The Wolf Point Herald wrote “Seen at a distance of 15 miles this massive structure appears as vaporous as the ethereal substance of which dreams are made.” It brought families and friends closer together and was a boon to economic development in northeast Montana.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
July 8 – On this day in Montana history the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported that Montana was in the international news after two pilots flying over the Spanish Peaks area near Bozeman reported 8 or 9 flying discs at an altitude of 32,000 feet that forced them to dive to 25,000 feet to avoid them.
Monday, July 7, 2014
July 7 – On this day in Montana history in 1884 noted Montana pioneer Granville Stuart sent a group of his vigilantes to a rustler’s cabin on the Missouri River near Rocky Point. They had a fight with a group of rustlers, and confiscated a large herd of horses with the brands of many central Montana cattle operations on their hides. The Vigilantes are often associated with the early mining days in Virginia City and Helena, but their wrath and “justice” were known across Montana well into the ranching days.
Friday, July 4, 2014
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.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
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.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
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.”
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
July 1 – On this day in Montana history in 1867 Acting Montana Territorial Gov. and Civil War Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher was reported drowned in the Missouri River at Fort Benton at age 41 Territorial Gov. Green Clay Smith in his official proclamation of mourning for Meagher wrote: “He was a man of high social qualities, great urbanity, a high order of intellect, a brave soldier, a true gentleman, and an honor to his Territory and Government.” Meagher’s body was never found and controversy still swirls about the circumstances of his death.