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Something of a Nuisance Value: The Montana, Wyoming & Southern Railroad, 1905-1953

By Jon Axline

Download and read the article in PDF format.


TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION

How did railroads spur economic development and effect settlement patterns?


QUESTIONS

1)    What was the original purpose of the Montana, Wyoming, and Southern Railroad (MW&SRR)?

2)    Why did the mining companies need the MW&SRR?

3)    How did the MW&SRR contribute to the region's history?

4)    What did the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad (NPRR) to Montana make possible?

5)    What was Territorial Governor Hauser's involvement with the NPRR?

6)    Why did the coal discovered by Yankee Jim in 1886 go untouched?

7)    What series of events in 1882-1883 increased the extraction of coal?

8)    What type of deal did William A. Clark strike with the NPRR? Why do you think he did this?

9)    What happened in 1902 that canceled the plans for a short line at Bear Creek?

10)    What cheap construction techniques caused the Yellowstone Park Railroad (YPRR) to be built with a substandard outcome ?

11)    Why was Bear Creek an important community? Who were its residents?

12)    What did the Anaconda Copper Mining Company do in 1912 that reduced the need for coal? What were the repercussions of this in the mining towns?

13)    What prompted the YPRR board of directors to reorganize as the MW&SRR?

14)    What problems did the MW&SRR face?

15)    How did the Great Depression complicate matters in Bear Creek?

16)    What towns did the MW&SRR create?

17)    What changes in the mining and use of coal led to the decline of the MW&SRR?


ACTIVITIES

-    Research the history of Chinese and Japanese workers on western railroads.

-    Watch the video "From the Far East to the Old West" (available at UM's Mansfield Center for Pacific Affairs.) Complete the questions in the accompanying study guide.

-    Research the history of coal mining in Montana and its effects on immigrant groups and community building.


VOCABULARY

prosperity

syndicate

abysmal

finance

bills of lading

Great Depression

vehement

placated

condemnation

antitrust

litigation

speculation

ballast

entrepreneurs

hydroelectric power

smelter

solvency

wagon mines

stockholders