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News of Interest to Heritage Reporters and Teachers



Remembering Montana’s 1964 Flood

What is described by many as “Montana’s worst natural disaster? is a receding memory for most today – except in the remote places where it hit hardest.

University of Great Falls English Professor Aaron Parret will present a program at the Montana Historical Society Thursday Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m. to talk about the state’s 1964 flood that took the lives of thirty people, tore up hundreds of thousands of acres, and cost an estimated $62 million in 1964 currency.

Although it wasn’t the “perfect storm,? Parret said that the combination of weather, a phenomenon known as “orographic lifting,? and other factors led to a storm “that occurs only once every five thousand years.?

Many areas were hard hit, but among the worst were a band from roughly Kalispell to Great Falls. Between June 7 and 8, Browning received more than eight inches of rain, 10 inches in Glacier National Park, 13 inches southwest of Augusta, and 11 inches at Heart Butte.

In effect, nearly an average year’s worth of precipitation fell in a 24-hour period. What was worse was that heavy snow pack also melted and greatly added to runoff.

Montana’s bigger cities where journalists could get around to record the devastation had their problems well documented, and they were tragic.

However, Parret said that the Blackfeet Indian Reservation suffered monumental losses of lives and property that only a few that don’t live on the reservation are aware of yet today.

Raging rivers and streams on the reservation destroyed 265 homes, 20,000 acres of hayland, two large dams, irrigation equipment for 37,000 acres, and what was worse, all 30 of the people who lost their lives in the terrible storm lived on the reservation.

Parret’s talk is based on an extensive article he wrote that appeared in the Society’s “Montana The Magazine of Western History? in the summer 2004 issue. Copies can still be purchases at the Society store, which will be open Thursday evening for the talk. The program is free and open to everyone


Posted by Marcella Sherfy on 10/27 at 02:36 PM
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2004 Montana Heritage Project


A Look at Life on the Bozeman Trail

The Montana Historical Society’s Pages in History Reader’s Forum Thursday, October 28, 2004, will feature “Bound for Montana,? a book taken from the diaries and other records of people who traveled the Bozeman Trail.

Society Archivist Ellie Arguimbau will facilitate the book discussion of the work of Susan Badger Doyle, and will bring several examples of real diaries, letters and journals from the Society collection that were used to produce the book.

“We will have lots of fun things to talk about, and people will be able to get a first-hand look at the kinds of archive materials we have that help authors tell the story of Montana,? Arguimbau said.

The program also will feature Loy Chvilicek, who will dress in period clothing and read a few humorous and pertinent excerpts from Eliza Dodd’s journal written in 1881-1883 while she was living at Fort Assiniboine as a minister’s wife.

Those who attend are encouraged to read the book prior to the program so that they can take part in the discussion, but that is not necessary.

The book club meets the last Thursday of every month, which means that because of holidays the next program will be the last Thursday in January. The next book scheduled in the series is “Perma Red? by Debra Magpie Earling.

The series is intended to use books to learn more about the history of Montana, and to augment the discussion with historians and materials from the Society’s vast collection. It is free and open to anyone.

Montana’s Museum and the Museum Store are open every Thursday evening to provide more public access to the Society.


Posted by Marcella Sherfy on 10/15 at 11:32 AM
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2004 Montana Heritage Project


Montana Folks brings fun and books to Society

Some unique people will premier their new book about some unique Montanans next Saturday (Oct. 23) from noon to 3 p.m. at what promises to be a unique day at the Montana Historical Society.

Authors John and Durrae Johanek and photographer Kurt Keller along with some of their friends, who are in the book and are entertainers as well, will be on hand to autograph and talk about the new book “Montana Folks.?

“This new book features some interesting people and the interesting lives they live in Montana. We are excited that we get to hold the premier release of it at the Society,? Museum Store Manager Richard Boyd said.

The new book, published by Globe Pequot Press, profiles in words and pictures 55 contemporary Montanans including such local celebrities as musher Doug Swingley, historian Jon Axline, as well as an astronaut, a yodeling wildflower botanist, a grizzly bear expert, the man who had the job of plowing out the Beartooth Highway each spring, and a one-man-band.

When asked the motivation behind the book, Durrae said, “I must have had a high fever at the time! About six months after we started to research it, we asked ourselves what the heck were we thinking.?

The “real? incident behind the idea for the book took place near Lewistown when Durrae saw a plaque along a roadway that said “something about here lie the ashes of Montana’s first astronaut.?

“John gave me about two seconds to read it, and some how I put the name of Acton with the plaque and came up with what I thought was the resting place of an astronaut,? she said.

It turned out after some research that astronaut John Acton is alive and well and living just a few blocks from the Johaneks in Bozeman. He was the first person chosen to be in the book.

When asked what she has learned about Montana during her many trips across the state to interview the people who live in it, Durrae said that no matter where you go or whom you meet, you always seem to know some of the same people.

“As big a state as this is, it’s really like one huge family. They might not always get along all the time, but they are all part of the same family,? she said.

The Johaneks live in Bozeman where John is a magazine design consultant and partner in Ayers/Johanek Publication Design Inc., and Durrae is an editorial freelancer who has been published in several nature-related magazines. Together they have traveled the four-corners of the state.

Keller is a commercial and fine art photographer from Helena who has spent the past 10 years “photographing the people, places and spirit of Montana.?

In addition to the Johaneks and Keller, four people who are profiled in the book will be at the public reception:

· Jon Axline of Helena, an historian and author who has traveled every part of the state gathering information and stories as part of his job for the Montana Department of Transportation.

· Erik Gustafson of Conrad, a one-man-band who will perform during the reception.

· Wayne Phillips of Great Falls, botanist, author and yodeler who says he might be persuaded to yodel a few lines during the reception.

· Sandy James of Dillon, a fiddle player who promises to keep the reception lively.

The free event will include refreshments as well as entertainment.


Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 10/14 at 03:17 PM
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2004 Montana Heritage Project
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