Join us as Ed Saunders discusses Montana’s Women Veterans and signs copies of his book!

October 4th (Friday) 5:30 PM, YCM Lobby

Ed Saunders, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and veteran of the Persian Gulf War, presents remarkable stories of heroism and service about Montana’s women veterans of World War I from his 2018 book, “Knapsacks and Roses, Montana’s Women Veterans of World War I.” Saunders finished an eight-year effort to find, validate, record for history, the military service of over 200 Yellowstone County and Montana women in uniform in the Great War. From his research, Saunders directed the effort for a memorial to Yellowstone County’s women veterans of World War I. He is part of the national research effort to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the members of the Women’s Telephone Unit of the American Signal Corps of World War I: the famed “Hello Girls.” He is a former member of the Yellowstone Historic Preservation Board and received the Board’s year 2019 Eugene T. Carroll Award for achievement in historic preservation. Ed and his wife of forty-one years live outside of Laurel, Montana. Their son, Ben, is a former officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Presentation: The Smith Coal Mine Disaster of 1945

September 13th (Friday) 5:30 PM, YCM Lobby

Join us to listen to Katrina talk about the Smith Coal Mine Disaster of 1943.

On February 27, 1943, the No. 3 Smith Mine in the small town of Bearcreek, Montana exploded killing a total of seventy-five individuals, seventy-four miners who were working in the mine and one rescuer. The Smith Mine disaster is the worst coal mining accident in the state of Montana and the second deadliest mining accident in Montana – behind the Granite Mountain explosion in Butte’s copper mine. Despite the importance of mining in Montana’s history and economy, the Smith Mine is slowly fading from the state’s history. This paper briefly analyzes the coal mining industry in Montana, the town of Bearcreek, and the conditions within the Smith Mine that allowed for a disaster such as this to occur. Following the historical backdrop of coal mining and the city of Bearcreek, this paper delves into the events that occurred on February 27, 1943 and the effect the explosion had on the community of Bearcreek.  

Book Signing: Trudy Kempton Dana

Come meet, Trudy Kempton Dana, the author of “The Kemptons: Adventures of a Montana Ranch Family, 1880-1964” at YCM on Monday September 9th from 1 to 3 pm.

“In its day, the famed Kempton Ranch was one of the larges horse and cattle operations in Montana, selling mounts to armies and polo-playing royalty alike. The Kemptons themselves were a storybook family - descended from Mayflower pilgrims, Sioux Indians, and a singer of the Declaration of Independence. Their own exploits make for a larger-than life Western epic.”

How We Got Here: Miss Montana

An Exhibition of Transportation to the American West

Billings - Yellowstone County Museum Lands Miss Montana C-47 for Fundraiser

Fresh from the Normandy D-Day reenactment, Miss Montana, a 1944 C-47 plane, is joining the Yellowstone County Museum’s 65th anniversary exhibit How We Got Here - the history of western transportation with a two-day exhibition of the classic vehicles that brought our ancestors to the Yellowstone Valley. How We Got Here takes place in and around a hangar at Edward’s Jet Center, September 6 and 7.

The Friday evening event includes museum and exhibit tours, live music by Cooper and the Crowd Thinners with Kristie Ostlund, substantial hors d’oeuvres, and dancing. The party culminates with an auction featuring experiences such as accommodations for six in the Caribbean island of St. Croix and a chauffeured ride in a vintage car to the Edgar Bar for an evening of fine dining. The party begins at 5:30 pm. Tickets are $75 per person.

On Saturday, September 7, the exhibit is free to the public, 11am to 3pm Food and beverages will be for sale onsite. Saturday participants may also purchase rides in a vintage stagecoach.

About the exhibit: The Miss Montana C-47 display is made possible by Bennett/ Diamond B Enterprises and Edwards Jet Center. Other vintage vehicles featured include the iconic Wells Fargo stagecoach; a working replica of the world’s first practical automobile - the 1888 Benz motor wagon; an 1886 buggy; a 1914 Model-T Touring car; and a 1916 Franklin Touring car. Other forms of transportation on display include motor vehicles from the early 1900s and vintage motorcycles including a 1916 Harley Davidson, 1947 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead, 1938 Harley Davidson, and 1947 Indian. 

For both days, parking is available at the short-term parking lot at the Billings Airport. Tickets will be validated at the museum for free parking.

Funds raised benefit the Yellowstone County Museum education outreach program which provides children and youth in our community with historical perspectives and an appreciation of the importance of preservation.

For more information, phone YCM Executive Director Terry at 406-256-6811.

More about Miss Montana

The Miss Montana historic C-47 aircraft is displayed at the Museum of Mountain Flying in Missoula. The N24320 was built as part of the United States war effort. She did not fly during World War II, as the war ended prior to her being completed. Her original mission was to serve America in World War II. She was recently flown to Normandy to complete her mission. Even though she did not serve in World War II, she led a life of service.

The N24320 is the airplane that transported smokejumpers to the Mann Gulch Fire near Helena in 1949. Twelve smokejumpers and one smoke chaser perished fighting the fire. N24320 is displayed in the Museum of Mountain Flying as a tribute to those smokejumpers and all smokejumpers that help protect the forests of the United States.

The C-47 committee selected the designation “Miss Montana to Normandy” to represent and honor the participation of the more than 57,000 Montana citizens who served during World War II in all branches of the military, and also to honor the citizens of Montana who served in the war effort on the home front.

The original designation “Miss Montana” was the nose art on the B-25 flown by Capt. Malcolm W. Enman, a Drummond, Montana resident who earned the Distinguished Flying Cross with a cluster, the Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters, and the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and American Defense ribbons, along with three stars for participation in three major campaigns, the Gilbert, The Marshall and the Caroline Islands. Mac, now deceased, is the father-in-law of museum members Dick Komberec and grandfather of Eric Komberec, who made the trip to Normandy as pilots.

For photos of Miss Montana and more about the Museum of Mountain Flying go to:

How We Got Here

The Yellowstone County Museum is celebrating 65 years of conserving and preserving history with the fundraiser event How We Got Here. The event takes place from September 6-7 and will feature a variety of early transportation and classic vehicles. September 6th is a private event for our sponsors from 5:30pm-10pm. and the 7th is open to the public from 11am-3pm.

Sixty-five years is a big deal and the YCM is going big to commemorate decades of preserving the history, artifacts, and culture of the Yellowstone River Basin. The How We Got Here exhibit and gala celebration takes place in and around a hangar at Edward’s Jet Center. The celebration promotes our diverse history and culture so that future generations will understand and appreciate the legacy of our pioneering ancestors.

Proceeds benefit the YCM’s education outreach program which provides children and youth with historical perspectives and an appreciation of the importance to save the knowledge and wisdom of our past.

Individual tickets to the private event on Friday are available for $75. There are many event activities and sponsorship levels. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor please contact us at (406) 256-6811.

65th Anniversary Open House

Yellowstone County Museum Celebrates 65th Anniversary

Saturday April 20

The Yellowstone County Museum (YCM) is celebrating 65 years of preserving, protecting, and interpreting the natural history and diverse cultures of the Yellowstone Valley and the Northern Plains. The open house takes place Saturday, April 20th from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. Admission is free. Billings Airport short term parking tickets will be stamped at the museum for free parking.

Yellowstone’s Finest and Bravest: The Early Emergency Services of Yellowstone County

Yellowstone’s Finest and Bravest: The Early Emergency Services of Yellowstone County

The museum includes the McCormick Cabin, originally home to a pioneer family in Billings. It was transported along the Rims in 1954 and opened to the public as a museum in 1956. Located atop the Rims at 1950 Airport Terminal Circle, across from the Billings Logan International Airport, the cabin serves as the entrance into the expanded museum.

The museum offers visitors an astonishing array of cultural artifacts and one-of-a-kind memorabilia from authentic Native American objects to keepsakes from the earliest pioneers through the mid-20th century.

Our anniversary celebrates an exhibit dedicated to the early Emergency Services of Yellowstone County. Other current exhibits include a tribute to the Billings Baseball Preservation Society, the involvement of our brave Yellowstone County soldiers in WWI, historically significant firearms of the region, and “Waiting for the Earth to Move” – the nation’s largest public display of Ghost Dance regalia.

YCM’s open house takes place Saturday, April 20th from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. The museum is located at 1950 Airport Terminal Circle. For more information, call Terry Steiner, Director at the Yellowstone County Museum, at (406) 256-6811.