March 16, 2017

EXTRA! Montana Newspaper Stories 1864-1922: Yellowstone National Park

Although the unique geological formations of the Yellowstone area were known to Native Americans and early white explorers, it wasn’t until the 1871 Hayden expedition that the rest of the U.S. population believed the stories. Photographs from the expedition were published and just a year later, in 1872, Congress created Yellowstone National Park. It quickly became a popular tourist attraction and a model for national parks in other countries.


Key dates

1805-06—Members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition hear reports of a volcano south of the Missouri River.
1807-08—Former Expedition member John Colter travels alone through a large tract of present-day Wyoming as far south as Jackson Lake. After he reports astonishing sites such as geysers and rivers of boiling water, the area is jokingly referred to as “Colter’s Hell.”
1870—The Washburn–Langford–Doane Expedition returns with detailed maps and observations, and various members publish first-hand accounts in national periodicals.
1871—Congress appoints Ferdinand V. Hayden to make an official geological survey. Hayden is accompanied by artist Thomas Moran and photographer William Henry Jackson.
March 1, 1872—President Grant signs a bill creating the world’s first national park. It is comprised of 2.2 million acres of wilderness.
1894—The Lacey Act prohibits “the hunting, or the killing or wounding, or capturing. . . of any bird or wild animal, except dangerous animals” in the Park.


From the newspapers


To find more

Search for these terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases: yellowstone park, dr. ferdinand hayden, nathaniel pitt (n.p.) langford, henry d. washburn, john colter

Written by Catherine W. Ockey

March 9, 2017

Bombs over the Yellowstone! Or, How Custer County Breaks up Ice Jams

by Zoe Ann Stoltz, Reference Historian

Initially, the weekend of March 17 & 18, 1944 was typical.  Many of Miles City’s residents enjoyed the popular music featured by radio station KRJF. Syndicated radio programs “Pioneer Women of Montana” and “Sports Roundup” were also popular with locals.[1] Many attended the Montana Theater which was running Grace McDonald’s light-hearted musical romance, “She’s for Me,”” or the musical, “Always a Bridesmaid” featuring the Andrews Sisters at the Liberty Theater. The upcoming High School Basketball tournament, to be held next weekend in Great Falls, was a primary conversation topic. However, by late Sunday evening, the weekend’s tone had changed. Within hours, Yellowstone flood waters forced hundreds of citizens from their homes. They would not return until after a B-17 dropped several tons of bombs on the Yellowstone.  

Earlier in the weekend, ice flows from the rising Tongue River joined those already accumulating in the Yellowstone. The resulting ice jam caused a rapid rise in river water. By late Sunday evening, residents on the north side of the city were warned to evacuate. Sheriff, police, and fire department personnel worked all night while KRJF ran well into the morning hours with constant updates.[2]
Monday morning, with the water too deep to wade through, men and boats continued to rescue marooned families. Water inundated Hubble Street, effectively cutting off the road to Jordan. Twenty miles south and upstream from town, high waters were forcing ice flows over a Tongue River Dam.[3]


Miles City Daily Star
March 23, 1944

In desperation, local, county, and state leaders contrived a plan to “dynamite” the Yellowstone’s ice jam.  On Monday, March 20, Mayor Leighton Keye called the Rapid City Army Air Base to request help. He was informed that thick fog prevented the takeoff of any aircraft in the Black Hills area. With assistance from Colstrip explosives experts and permission from the Civil Aeronautics Administration, the mayor enlisted local pilots Brud Foster, Fred Cook and Ted Filbrandt for the job.[4] According to one newspaper report, after flying reconnaissance flights over the river, the men fused and dropped close to 12 boxes, or 1500 pounds, of dynamite. The “shuddering blasts” created by the detonations were only partly successful in clearing the ice flows.[5]

Finally, Tuesday afternoon, residents were treated to the sight of a low flying B-17, or “Flying Fortress” in the skies over Miles City. The plane, piloted by Rapid City Air Base’s director of flying Major Richard Ezzard, carried a crew of 10 others. By 7:30 that evening, Ezzard and his crew began their attack on the Yellowstone ice. Forced to fly at just 2,600 feet rather than the previously planned 10,000 feet by a gathering storm system to the northwest, Ezzard dropped the first bomb just downstream from the 7th Street Bridge. During four runs, the crew dropped over fifteen 250 pound bombs into the ice packed Yellowstone.[6]

Immediately following the bombing, the Yellowstone’s waters began receding, preventing further danger and flood damage. Although crowds were kept as much as a mile away from the drop zone, locals saw the plane “circling and banking” as it approached the river. All agreed with Mayor Keyes’s description of the mission as “perfect and in accordance with the best traditions” of the U. S. Military.[7]


Miles City Star
March 23, 1944

Thanks to the heroic efforts of both locals as well as imported experts not a single human life was lost to the flood, and livestock losses were believed to be minimal.[8] By the end of the week, life in Miles City was returning to normal. After a brief stay to determine the success of their mission, Maj. Ezzard and his crew bid Miles City farewell with a late Wednesday afternoon flyover over.[9] City crews successfully pumped out a good share of the basements of between 300-500 evacuated residents.[10] Approximately one hundred evacuees attended clinics to discuss health concerns created by contaminated wells and needed repairs before returning home.[11] Weekend movie options included the moralistic  “Edge of Darkness” with Errol Flynn or the musical “Sing a Jingle.”[12] Sadly, the Miles City Cowboys failed to place in the Basketball Championship after losing to Stanford 51-48.[13] That was the tragedy!


[1] See “Air Log” pg. 3 & movie advertisements pg. 5, 18 March 1944, Miles City Daily Star
[2] “Flood Waters Reach Into City,” 21 March 1944, Miles City Daily Star, p.3
[3] Ibid.,  1 & 3.
[4] Ibid., 3 and “Home Made Bombs Used Preliminarily to Break Ice Jams,” 24 March 1944 Miles City Daily Star, p. 8.
[5] “Yellowstone, Tongue Floods Recede; Storm Prevents Bombers from Helping to Break Up Blocks of Ice,” 21 March 1944, The Independent Record, p. 3.[6] “Bombing of Yellowstone Is Effective,” 23 March 1944,
[7] Ibid., p. 3.
[8] “Flood Waters Reach Into City,”  21 March 1944, Miles City Daily Star, p.3
[9] “Flying Fortress Crew Departs Wednesday for Rapid City Base,” 25 March 1944, p. 3.
[10] “Scene of Flooded Area Covering the Island, Part of the Residential Section of North Side the City,” 21 March 1944, Miles City Daily Star, p.1.
[11] “Families Instructed Regarding Going Back Into Their Homes,” 23 March 1944, Miles City Daily Star??
[12] See Movie advertisements, 23 Friday 1944, Miles City Daily Star, p. 5.
[13] “Cowboys Put Up Great Game,” 26 March 1944, Miles City Daily Star, p. 9.



February 23, 2017

The Complexities of Digital Information Management

by Tammy Troup, Digital Services Manager

The myriad duties required and expected of museums and historical societies set these organizations apart from traditional libraries and archives. Principally, the exhibit and interpretive missions of these organizations introduce layers of creativity and organization of knowledge, which researchers may never realize, while the collection and preservation missions require knowledge of standards, systems, and practices which only subtly affect a visitor’s experience.

The crux of the matter involves organization of the information resource under consideration. Regardless of the type of information resource--bone awl, Finnish loom, legislative record, vintage print, or first edition book of poetry--using and reusing the information resource requires management of information about the resource.


Information management systems advanced significantly over the past 150 years.
Clockwise from top: Scan of Original Accession Register, Photo of Card Catalog,
Screenshot of Advanced Search Montana Shared Catalog 

Although the format is relatively new, management of digital and digitized information resources for both online exhibit and interpretation and collection and preservation builds upon knowledge acquired through a century of information resource management. Reformatting—digitization—is a fairly straightforward technical process. However, management of the resulting digital files requires the development and management of metadata--information about the information. The result—a digital object—includes both digital images and a metadata record structured for machine readability. High quality metadata managed within an organized system allows a user to search for and discover an information resource and to locate any derivatives.

In the past twenty years, libraries and archives improved and refined the processes involved in the management of digital information. These information management organizations developed procedures which resulted in organized, searchable digital collections. Researchers who enjoyed the methods of targeted research and serendipitous discovery appreciated access to digital collections. However, not everyone’s online information needs were met.

Despite extensive metadata records--and the idiom that a picture is worth a thousand words--digital objects without context quickly contributed to an overload of information. Workaround solutions included metadata records with detailed interpretive descriptions or the use of digital objects as captioned illustrations in “digital exhibits.” Meanwhile, information professionals managed information about the original and digital resources across a technological stack neither interoperable or searchable.

Well-managed records provide enough information for
items and derivatives to be located and used and reused.
Clockwise from left: Screenshot of Metadata Record, Screenshot of File Manager with File,
Screen Still of Photo Archives
File Shown Above in File Manager
Well managed information makes reusing content easier and more consistent.
As an organization responsible for collecting and preserving as well as exhibiting and interpreting, the Montana Historical Society knows this stage of information management quite well. The professional staff of the MHS created the first digital exhibit Encountering Montana: Lewis and Clark Under the Big Sky in 2001 and began making information available on the precursor of the Montana Memory Project in 2004. In the ensuing years, nearly 50 TB of data representing a small percentage of the Museum and Research Center’s collections have been generated and multiple digital exhibits have helped us contextualize our digital and digitized resources.

At this point, the information management needs of our entire staff are much more advanced. These needs include electronic records management, digital asset management, digital preservation, as well as online presentation and interpretation. Meanwhile, the research needs and expectations of our online visitors have also become much more sophisticated. Multiple factors contribute to the challenges of digital information management--particularly in state governments--yet the MHS remains committed to building on and applying over 150 years of knowledge in order to maintain the persistent link between the past, the present, and the future.

As we advocate for our digital needs in order to advance our mission to collect, preserve, and interpret, we invite you to share your comments about the MHS’s online presence, role in interpreting and analyzing digital information, and any concerns about Montana’s digital cultural heritage.




February 9, 2017

Lydia's: A Montana Tradition

by Barbara Pepper-Rotness, Library Technician

Last fall after spending the day in Butte, my husband and I wanted to find a quick bite to eat before heading back to Helena. It was getting darker and there were fewer and fewer cars as we headed away from downtown Butte, past the car dealerships and the airport. I was ready to turn around but just at that moment, I saw a lonely sign in front of a nondescript, anonymous looking building. The sign indicated that this was Lydia’s: A Montana Tradition. I’d heard of Lydia’s as, well, a Montana tradition and an Italian restaurant. So, of course, we had to try it. Once inside, the décor - lush-textured walls and seating, the mirrors, the colors and subdued lighting, the sunken floor with tables that accommodated many groups and yet, gave the feeling of one big group – resembled a 1960s lounge club. And, as we settled into our cozy section, our waiter brought over dishes filled with food. We hadn’t ordered anything and already we had food! A platter of salami and cheese, a little dish of green onions, a casserole of sweet potato salad, a saucer of anchovies, a basket of breadsticks, a small bowl of salad for each of us with a selection of home-made dressings, a dish of beets, and a plate of sliced red bell peppers. Wow, I didn’t even need to order an entrée. But, with that kind of a start, I was curious to see what other goodies we might receive. With our substantial main selections came more of these little treats – a dish of ravioli, a bowl of spaghetti, and of all things, a plate of French fries. It was quite the meal – delicious, hearty, different, relaxing, and fun.

Back in Helena, I had to learn more about this wonderfully unique experience called Lydia’s and its history. Originally located in Meaderville, Lydia Michelotti’s restaurant was called the Savoy Club before moving to the Flats in 1946. The current building was constructed in 1964 next to the older [1946] building and the restaurant has carried on the Meaderville-style dinner tradition. As Lydia’s brother, Dave, once commented, “We serve a Meaderville dinner today with chicken, steak and raviolis the same way they did in the old days. The sad thing is today when you say Meaderville no one knows what you are talking about” [1].

"What you can see from the headframe?" - Issue #1 Copper Commando
(view from Leonard Mine headframe of Meaderville, Butte, Montana)
Catalog #: Lot 019 B14

Meaderville was known as the Italian-American neighborhood of Butte and was renowned world-wide for its supper clubs that served sumptuous, multi-course meals. Lydia Micheletti grew up in this neighborhood - alternately nicknamed “Little Monte Carlo” (for its open gambling) and “the Night Club Mecca of the Rockies” [2] - and became a dishwasher in one of its restaurants as a young girl to help her family. She later worked under Ted Traparish at the Rocky Mountain Café, where she honed her cooking skills.

The star of the Meaderville night club restaurants, the Rocky Mountain Café on Main Street was considered one of the world’s top restaurants. In fact, an editor of the New York Evening Post wrote in his column, “This may be one of the three or four great restaurants in the world.” [3]. This editor was not the only writer enamored of the Rocky Mountain Café. Many high-profile newspapers and magazines, such as Reader’s Digest and National Geographic, provided the public with a glimpse of this amazing place and enticed them with statements like, “The Best Steak inside me”.  And, the September 1953 issue of Good Housekeeping contained a full-page article entitled, ‘A Big Night in Butte” by Dorothy Kilgallin. In it, she details her the contents of her lavish meal, beginning with the appetizers. “There were olives, stuffed celery, mushrooms, salami, an assortment of cheeses, sardines in oil, crab meat in Russian dressing, shrimp in hot sauce, artichoke hearts, pimientos, pickles, anchovies, a jar of Russian caviar and a big salad with Roquefort dressing…Then the steaks came.”  She ends the article with this perfect statement, “Even after seeing the prices in big black letters I went out feeling as if I had accepted charity.” In 1961, Teddy retired and the restaurant closed before expansion of the Berkeley Pit claimed all of Meaderville. [4]

Rocky Mountain Café flyer [5]

After learning the trade from master chef and host Teddy Traparish; and skilled with re-creating the recipes her mother brought from Italy, Lydia opened her own restaurant and it has been a mainstay in Butte since. As Lydia’s website states, “Meaderville and its many supper clubs are now part of Butte’s colorful history, but Lydia’s proudly carries on the ‘Meaderville-Story’ through our Italian-American dinners.” [6]

Cited works
[1] Kearney, Pat. Butte Voices: Mining, Neighborhoods, People. Skyhigh Communications, 1998, pp. 296-98.
[2] Kearney, Pat. Butte Voices: Mining, Neighborhoods, People. Skyhigh Communications, 1998, p. 214.
[3] Tribune Staff Writer. “’One of World’s Top Restaurants’ Near Butte: Few Dining Spots in U.S. have Won More Praise.” Great Falls Tribune (Great Falls, MT), 26 April 1953, page 13
[4] Excerpts Concerning Montana’s Famous Restauranteur Teddy Traparish, 1888-1971. Compiled by Edward Craney. [Butte, MT: Edward Craney[, 1971?.
[5] Excerpts Concerning Montana’s Famous Restauranteur Teddy Traparish, 1888-1971. Compiled by Edward Craney. [Butte, MT: Edward Craney[, 1971?.
[6] Lydia’s Supper Club, http://www.lydiassupperclub.com/. Accessed 7 February 2017. 

January 26, 2017

Public Enemy #1 - The House Fly

by Natasha Hollenbach, Digital Services Technician

Have you ever looked at a house fly and thought that it might be the cause of your death? Probably not, but during the early 1900s, the house fly was denounced by public health officials and newspapers across the country.

Called the Queen of the Rubbish Heap [1], the house fly was blamed for transmitting every major contagious disease, including typhoid, cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and smallpox. Thus the house fly stood at the crossroads of two movements in public health, the scientific quest to understand the nature and causes of disease and the resulting effort to prevent them.

Roundup Record (Roundup, MT)
July 28, 1911 p1

chroniclingamerica.loc.gov

One of the notable aspects of the cartoon above is that Judge Science is presiding. In newspapers, the life cycle and habits of the house fly were discussed and condemned. In one notable article, the author concludes that the house fly is more evil than the bed bug and that all the public’s revulsion of the bed bug should be transferred to the house fly. [2]

Whitefish Pilot (Whitefish, MT)
June 29, 1911 p6

chroniclingamerica.loc.gov
But just knowing the house fly was the culprit wasn’t enough. It was time to use this newfound knowledge of their habits against them. A major campaign was instituted to exterminate the house fly. Newspapers carried advice from public health officials about how to fly proof homes and deny flies their breeding grounds. This task became so ubiquitous that it carried over into poetry and advertisements. Indeed even school children were brought into the act.  When the Montana State Board of Health 1911 conducted an essay contest in 1911, one of the three topics was “The Evils of the House Fly, and How the House Fly can be Eradicated.” [3]






Saco Independent (Saco, MT)
August 6, 1915 p8

montananewspapers.org

The Enterprise (Malta, MT)
June 15, 1910 p4

chroniclingamerica.loc.gov























But the house fly was really only part of a larger problem: sanitation. The house fly was so dangerous because of the conditions. One of the other essay topics from that same Board of Health contest was “For the best description of an unsanitary back yard located in the district in which the child writing the essay lives, and the evils of such a back yard. Please note that the evils of the back yard should be treated not only from the standpoint of the effect on individuals owning and conducting the yard, but from the standpoint of the effect of such a yard on the community at large.” This focus led to community “clean-up days” in which either the state or community chose a day, usually in early spring, when all businesses and schools closed so everyone could focus on cleaning up the rubbish that had accumulated over the winter. The Clean-up Pointers below give insight to the mindset of the people and a glimpse of the conditions of their daily lives.

Blackfoot Optimist (Blackfoot Idaho)
April 1, 1915 p7

chroniclingamerica.loc.gov
It’s easy to take our living conditions for granted so the next time you see a house fly stop and consider that a hundred years ago it might have caused your death. Then swat it with a fly swatter. After all, it’s still a potential public health hazard.

[1] The Libby Herald. (Libby, MT), July 25, 1913, p6. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress.
[2] "The House-Fly and B.B." The Yellowstone Monitor. (Glendive, MT), July 4, 1912, p8. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress.
[3] "Sanitary Education -- Contest for School Children." The Enterprise. (Malta, MT), October 12, 1911, p1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress.