Montana March 02, 2018
7 Times When Montana Was Actually The Worst Place To Be
Montana is called the Last Best Place for a reason. A bad day here is better than a good day anywhere else. That being said, even the proudest Montanans can admit that sometimes our state has a string of bad luck. And on those rare occasions, living here can be less than awesome. These are a few of them.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The spring of 1969, which was worse than most of our winters.
In April of 1969, a fierce blizzard hit Montana and brought snow drifts as deep as 20 feet. Tens of thousands of cattle, sheep, and horses were killed, and many Montanans we without power, some for weeks.
2. Helena in February of 1989
On February 2, 1989, 48 cars of a Montana Rail Link freight train rolled backward down Mullan Pass, colliding with a work train at a railway crossing near the center of the Helena community. The collision caused a fire and explosion that left most of the city without power... and the disaster occurred during a severe cold snap, with temperatures as cold as −30 °F. Oh, and many residents had to be evacuated due to concerns about a possibly toxic chemical release. Fun.
3. June 1964
In 1964, the worst flooding in Montana history swept over most of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, affecting 20% of the state. 31 lives were lost, and $62 million worth of damage was done (that would be $474 million today). The statue pictured here is made in part with scraps from cars destroyed in the flood.
4. The eclipse of 2017
Last August's eclipse made national headlines, and states that were said to be in the path of totality were warned about all the excessive traffic the event would bring. Everyone seemed to get the memo except the Montana Department of Transportation. On the day of the eclipse, a contractor hired by MDT had scheduled a major road construction project to begin on I-15 near the Clark Canyon Dam. As tens of thousands of people headed north from the path of the eclipse to get home, they encountered the mother of all traffic jams. Officials from the MDT apologized wholeheartedly, but many Montanans were angry.
5. January 20, 1954
To be fair, this day was only horrible if you were in Helena or, specifically, the nearby Rogers Pass. This was the date and location of the coldest temperature ever recorded here, which was -70. No thank you.
6. August of 1910, the year of the Great Fire.
The fire, which is often called the Big Blowup, the Big Burn, or the Devil's Broom fire, was one of our worst disasters. In mid-August, there were thousands of small forest fires in Montana, Idaho, Washington and British Columbia. On August 20, a cold front blew in and brought hurricane-force winds, turning the hundreds of small fires into one giant blazing inferno. To say this was an awful thing to live through would be an understatement.
7. July of 2017, when we experienced our worst earthquake in 20 years and people feared the worst.
As Montanans, we're always a little edgy when we think of the supervolcano at Yellowstone. On July 5, 2017, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocked most of Western Montana. The epicenter was in Lincoln, a mere 230 miles from the park, causing many Montanans to panic and wonder if this was the end. Luckily, the USGS said the supervolcano is not expected to erupt anytime soon.
It may not be perfect, but we still believe
Montana is the best place to be. Do you agree?