​The Ancient Babylonians.

The original New Year was celebrated with a festival known as Akitu. It lasted 11 days and included many rituals. These included sacrifices by the king and songs celebrating the Babylonians’ many gods. Akitu didn’t cease until well into the ADs., eventually being replaced by oddly-shaped glasses shaped like the next year's numerals.

In Babylonia, the new year didn't start with present day January. The first appearance of the new moon after the Spring Equinox characterized the time to usher in the New Year. The beginning of the planting season for crops or the blossoming of flowers and other plants. According to the legends, the annual ritual enactment was performed for the reasons of bringing macrocosm and microcosm, heaven and earth, back into proper relationship and harmonization.

Babylon is the most famous city from ancient Mesopotamia whose ruins lie in modern-day Iraq 59 miles  southwest of Baghdad.

The Babylonians had many festivals and feasts. Probably the most important of these was the New Year's Festival. The festival happened in the first eleven days of the month. The Babylonian Akitu festival has played a pivotal role in the development of theories of religion, myth and ritual, yet the purpose of the festival remains a point of contention among both historians of religion and Assyriologists.

On the first five days of the New Year's Festival there were many ceremonies of purification. These culminated when on the fifth day the King was taken, by the High Priest, to Marduk in the Temple of Esagila. The King had his insignia removed and he was then accused of crimes against the city of Babylon. The King was hit and then was forced to kneel and plead his innocence. The King then had his insignia restored.

On the sixth day the statue of Nabu was taken from his temple in Borsippa, about ten miles from Babylon, and brought to his father's, Marduk's temple in Babylon.

The tenth day was the great climax to the celebration. Marduk, Nabu and many other gods assembled and went, by river and road, to a place called the Akitu house. Here a ceremonial battle took place showing Marduk overcoming the forces of evil. The gods then returned to the temple of Esagila.

Happy New Year. Eat 12 grapes and wear green underwear to ensure health and well-being for 2019.


The photo Published in the November 16, 1989 Pathfinder shows several of our young pioneers celebrating Montana'a Centennial.

Five years later, Seeley's C.B. Rich and Ovando's Howard Copenhaver were key participants in the Montana Centennial Train

The Montana Centennial Train of 1964 has been called Montana’s biggest publicity stunt.

Twenty-five railroad cars and more than 300 passengers who shelled out $500 apiece to ride the train.

Thirty-one days of riding the rails through 18 states to Long Island, N.Y., and back.

Some 150 panels of massive Western murals, painted for the sides of the rail cars over a period of eight months by Lyman Rice and assistant Bud Wert.

A million dollars in gold, silver and other native gems for display to the world at the 18-month World’s Fair.

“Free” publicity to the tune of an estimated 18,000 column inches of news copy, read by more than 17 million people, a TV audience of 37 million, and personal contacts with more than three million Americans through parades, luncheons, banquets, art and wildlife exhibits, etc.

“What started out as a one-man show has involved literally thousands who have contributed time and money to show their love, loyalty and respect for this broad, buxom Big Sky Country,” wrote Howard Kelsey, the dude rancher and outfitter from Gallatin Gateway who was the instigator and became director of the Montana Centennial Train and World’s Fair exhibit.

One Montana governor, Tim Babcock, was on board for parts of the trip and there were two future ones – Tom Judge, director of special events, and a 20-year-old Morstein (Martz), just back from the speed skating competition at the ’64 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria.

Seventy-five horses and mules were along to step high and pull hard in parades at each of the 16 stops along the way, trained through the winter at the fairgrounds and around the streets of Missoula.

There were millions of memories and stories made, most that have improved with age, like fine wine or the Old Yellowstone whiskey that flowed freely on the train.

Oh, and one appearance on “Candid Camera,” with Allen Funt and Durwood Kirby.

That’s a Howie Fly tale. It had to do with salmonella, a railroad station restroom in Pittsburgh, TV cameras hidden behind a screen, and a bar of soap that turned out to be a very breakable egg.

Fly, of Ovando, was a high school classmate of Kitty Ann Quigley in Deer Lodge, a protégé of Copenhaver, and one of five wranglers for the horse and mule strings on the train.

Because they could, the cowpokes in the Montana party like Quigley and Fly walked the streets of Chicago and New York with six-shooters on their hips.

“I wore mine daily,” Taaler said.

“Mine were loaded, but I didn’t tell anybody,” Fly admitted.

Because he could, Montana-born trick roper and rider Owen Mickels, aka Montie Montana, rode the elevator and performed on stage at the banquet hall in New York’s Commodore Hotel on April 23 with Rex, his rubber-shoed paint horse.

Montana was the 41st state to be admitted into the Union on November 8, 1889.

For sixty years prior to establishment of the Territory of Montana in 1864, seven different territories of the western United States governed the area that was to become Montana. The portion of Montana located east of the Continental Divide belonged to Louisiana Territory (purchased from France in 1803), Missouri Territory (1812-1821), the so-called “Indian Country” (1821-1854), Nebraska Territory (1854-1861), and Dakota Territory (1861-1863).

The western portion acquired from Great Britain in 1846 belonged to Oregon (1848-1853) and Washington (1853-1863) Territories until the entire future state was included in Idaho Territory in 1863.

We hope you enjoy these stories about our area. We will change them regularly, so be sure and stop back. If you have a request for a story, or a story you want to share, please contact us at slhistory@blackfoot.net.


On August 2nd the mill’s multinational owner locked more than 30 union employees of a talc mill near Tree Forks out of their jobs. The lockout has attracted attention since then as polititicians have visited the picket line.

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union has a long and storied presence in Montana as far back as 1907 when the lumber workers went on strike.  In 1909 they were involved in the Missoula free speech fight. Beginning in 1912 they were often referred to as “Wobbly.” The IWW often gets credit for causing the eight-hour workday. Lumber strikes in 1919 on river drives won clean bedding for them.

Historically, a Wobbly influence has been on Salmon Lake. One of the first pioneers on Salmon Lake was “Sourdough” Dave Madson, an early day logger who worked in the logging camps in the Blackfoot Valley. Some say he was a renegade. Some people called him an agitator during the days of the I.W.W. -- "the I Won't Work" days. But he may have come into the Blackfoot call shortly after the 1918 Wobbly Massacre in Milltown. Read about it at http://missoulian.com/news/local/story-of-wobbly-massacre-in-milltown-in-wwi-bears-scrutiny/article_f0eb7da9-484d-519b-a7d9-02ca4d8a8712.html

Dave finally was "black-balled" at the area lumber camps. It has been speculated that perhaps the owners of the logging company gave the island to Dave as a way to get him out of their hair. Others say he just wanted to live where people wouldn't bother him. The Fish and Game Department had attempted to rid the lake of "trash " fish and put Dave in charge of netting squawfish by dozens. Dave had no qualms about using the heap of fish at his back door to supplement his diet. He spent most of his days hunting and fishing near his cabins on the island, frequently inviting a close friend for a bowl of fish stew.

His cabin now serves as the pump house for the Montana Island Lodge.