April 23, 2014

Montana Goes on Tour, 1964

by Matthew Peek, Photo Archivist

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Montana Territorial Centennial Train. Departing from Billings for a 30-day national tour, the train carried exhibits and 300 Montana boosters to the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. Making stops in 16 cities along the route, it remains one of the most memorable state promotions in U.S. history.  

Senator Mike Mansfield (center) talks with youths in a Montana Territorial
Centennial Train exhibit car, April 1964 (Lot 31 B8/8.04).
At Union Station in Washington, D.C., Senators Mike Mansfield and Lee Metcalf toured the exhibits. Later, President Lyndon Johnson hosted a reception at the White House, at which he remarked, to loud cheering:
 "Montana is one of the states in the Union that you can still visit and get the spirit of the frontier."

On April 17th, a celebratory dinner drew distinguished Montana natives Robert H. O’Brien, president of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; William Allen, president of Boeing Aircraft Company; John A. Burns, Governor of Hawai'i; and movie stars George Montgomery and Myrna Loy. Midway through the meal, the President made a surprise visit and was introduced by another famous Montanan, NBC newsman Chet Huntley.

(Left to right) President of Lee Newspaper Enterprises Donald W. Anderson, actress Myrna Loy, and Senator
Lee Metcalf arrive at the Montana Centennial Dinner, Washington, D.C., April 17, 1964 (Lot 31 B8/7.08).

In the MHS Research Center, dozens of photos of the 1964 Centennial Train’s Washington visit are available for viewing.