Thursday, June 30, 2016

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. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June 29 – On this date in Montana history in 1936 state Public Works Administration Director V. H. Walsh reported that 51 projects costing $6.7 million had been completed in Montana since the federal program was begun in 1933. He said 17 more projects costing $3.4 million were underway, and announced new plans for a new Bozeman high school, Livingston irrigation ditch, Billings drainage system, Park County Irrigation canal, and a Flint Creek water conservation project.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

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.

Monday, June 27, 2016

June 27 – On this date in Montana history in 1925 the first significant earthquake in the state’s 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.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

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.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

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.

Friday, June 24, 2016

June 24 – On this day in Montana History in 1876 the Seventh Cavalry of brevet Gen. George Armstrong Custer was preparing attack plans for what became known as the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He was concerned that the Native Americans would escape before he could attack. The following day went down in history as Custer’s Last Stand.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

June 23 – On this day in Montana History in 1937 a crowd estimated by the Highway Patrol at 18,000 people gathered in Fort Benton to see the finish of a riverboat race that began in St. Louis. The race was conceived to pay tribute to the early riverboat activity on the Missouri River which terminated at Fort Benton.  The Glasgow Fort Peck Cruiser won with an elapsed time of 269 hours and four minutes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

June 22 – On this day in Montana history in 1923 not everyone was excited about the planned July 4 world heavyweight championship boxing match between Jack Dempsey and Tommy Gibbons in Shelby. The Montana Baptist Convention “absolutely deplored” the fight because “any prize fight is contrary to the teachings of Christianity,” and it was sure to “bring into the state a large number of morally undesirables.”

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

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.

Monday, June 20, 2016

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. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

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. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

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.

Friday, June 17, 2016

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 Montana border. It was the farthest steamships came up the Missouri for the next 28 years until shallow draft boats could make it 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.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

June 16 – On this day in Montana History in 1888 the first train robbery in Montana history occurred near Livingston. Robbers used a signal torch at night to convince the engineer that there was danger on the track. When the train ground to a stop, the robbers boarded and held the passengers hostage for an hour and twenty minutes while they took about $600 from a safe. No one was injured in the robbery.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

June 15 – On this day in Montana history in 1916 the Wibaux Pioneer carried a front page story on “Happenings on Circus Day.” A person hired to help set up the tents was run over by a six ton wagon, but lived to tell about it. “The circus gladly paid his bill.” Another local was struck by a crutch by one of the injured female performers after he “was getting gay with her.” But all in all the paper reported that “it was a clean show that pleased everyone.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

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.

Monday, June 13, 2016

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.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

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.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

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.”

Friday, June 10, 2016

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!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

June 9 – On this day in Montana history in 1948 Montana was experiencing the power of President Harry S. Truman’s famous “Whistle Stop Campaign” train tour of the nation that carried him to a major upset in the presidential election. More than 10,000 Montanans turned out to hear him talk at the Naranche Stadium in Butte, and thousands more lined up to see his train pass through the state.   

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

June 8 – On this day in Montana history in 1917 late in the evening in Butte the Granite Mountain mine exploded violently killing dozens and turning the community into a virtual disaster area. The papers were filled with lists of people known dead or missing.  A headline of a sidebar story says it all: ”Pathetic Scenes at the Morgues As Strong Men Weep Over Dead Pards.”

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

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.

Monday, June 6, 2016

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.”

Sunday, June 5, 2016

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.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

June 4 – On this day in Montana history in 1879 the steamship Yellowstone was lost at Buffalo Rapids on the Yellowstone River. The paddle-wheeler that was built in 1876 in Indiana had made just three trips up the Missouri River to Fort Benton before it was lost. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

June 3 –On this day in Montana history in 1924 high ranking churchmen from across the nation gathered in Helena to consecrate the Cathedral of St. Helena. The Rt. Rev. John Henry Tihen, bishop of Denver presided at events. Tribute was paid to Rt. Rev. John P. Carroll, bishop of the diocese of Helena, for his tireless work in seeing the cathedral completed. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

June 2 – On this day in Montana history in 1941 news reached Montana of the death of pioneer physician Dr. Mary Atwater in California at age 82. She had practiced medicine in Marysville for many years when the mining town was in its boom years. She also fought to establish the State Hospital at Galen, and was active in fighting for women’s suffrage and other rights.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June 1 – On this day in Montana history in 1873 what is now known as the Cypress Hills Massacre took place on the wooded hills just north of what is now the Montana-Canada border. Traders and wolfers from Fort Benton had crossed the border trying to recover stolen property. They wiped out an Assiniboine camp of 50 lodges killing at least 20, many of them women and children. The incident angered the Canadian government and led to major efforts to send more mounted policed to the area and attempt to bring the Americans to trial and stop the whiskey trade coming into Canada from Fort Benton.