The History Of Heritage Days

The Columbia Falls Heritage Days celebration dates back to 1956 when, under the name Progress Days, the annual celebrations began. In 1975 Progress Days was renamed Western Roundup Days and in 1980 the name was changed to Heritage Days.

This page will present some of the history of Hertiage Days.


Old Time Sack Races


August 3, 1956: Falls Prepares For 'Progress Days'

Big summer event in Columbia Falls is the coming Progress Days celebration Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 11 and 12, sponsored by the Columbia Falls Chamber of Commerce and Rocky Mountain Riders Saddle Club.

Float Entered By Anaconda Aluminum CompanyThe event observes the first anniversary of the state of Montana aluminum production at Anaconda Aluminum Co. plant, Columbia Falls, and recognized the importance of lumber industry payrolls.

Bob Moody, chamber president, invites the public at attend the celebration by stating, "No Montana city of like size is so favored with industrial payrolls, and has so fine a location. Come help us celebrate Progress Days in a truly small city, western way."

Kickoff for the celebration will be a free show for kids under 16, Friday, Aug. 10, at 2 p.m. at the Park theatre. Movie will be the regular feature, "The Sea Chase." This is sponsored by Chamber of Commerce and Park theatre.

Saturday events will be as follows:

Events Ad In The Hungry Horse News

  • 8 a.m. — Western breakfast for chamber and guest at the saddle club house. Representatives of local industry will be guests of chamber.

  • 9 a.m. to noon — First auto caravan tours of AAC plant.

  • 9 a.m. to noon — Interior tours of Plum Creek Lumber Co. and Superior Buildings Co. and outside tours of Stoltze Land & Lumber Co. new addition nearing completion at Half Moon and Rocky Mountain Lumber Co.

  • 8 a.m. to noon — Fish derby for kids up to 16. Loren Kreck, chairman of the project, announced that prizes will be awarded for the largest cutthroat and bull trout caught between Bad Rock canyon and the Red Bridge. Weighing in at Smithey's Sport Shop.

  • 10 a.m. — Open house starts at new Pacific Power and Light Co. building. The public invited to see the new office and dial equipment. Refreshments served all day.

  • Pee Wee Baseball Game
  • 1:30 p. m. — Band concert at city square by 60-piece summer band, Larry Stallings, director.

  • 2 p.m. — Treats for kids at the square.

  • 2:30 p.m. — Awarding of prizes in weekly chamber "buy it in Columbia Falls" promotion.

  • 2:45 p.m. — Games and races for youngsters, Spencer Koppang and Don Steffensen in charge, at city square.

  • 4:00 p.m. — Pee Wee baseball double header at old ball park.

  • 9:30 p.m. — Street dance on Nucleus avenue. Free. Live local orchestra to furnish music.

  • Ruby Smith Shows carnival and booths sponsored by local organizations will be operating on and near the city square.

Sunday events are:

  • 8:00 a.m. to noon — Public western breakfast at saddle club house, Highway 40, $1, all you can eat.

  • 1:00 p.m. — Progress Days western parade. From Great Northern depot down Nucleus avenue, turn west at Hungry Horse News office, out Highway 40 to saddle club grounds.

  • 2:00 p.m. — Jackpot O-Mok-See. 50 cents for adults, children under 12, free. Grand prize of a steer to be given away. Events will include grand entry, exhibitions by girls mounted drill team, Flathead O-Mok-See Races county Sheriff's posse, calf roping, wild cow milking, horse races and games. A feature will be awarding of prizes for beard growing contest now in progress.

E. J. Lundstrom, parade chairman, announced that prizes will be awarded for the best entries. A traveling trophy for the best float will awarded, to be held until a new winner is chosen next year. Winning several times in succession will earn permanent possessionhere will be merchandise awards made for the best horse entries for matched pair, single horse and kids pony. Formation of the parade will start at 12:30 at the depot. Entrants are asked to contact Lundstrom, Bud Ellman or Pat Warner.

--- Hungry Horse News



Grand Parade



August 10, 1956: Columbia Falls Will Observe Progress Days

Honor Industry: Payroll town of the Flathead, Columbia Falls will honor its local industries in a Progress Days celebration Saturday and Sunday.

Joint sponsors are Columbia Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Rocky Mountain Riders Saddle club.

The festivity will 1956 Progress Days Ad recognize development of lumbering in the Columbia Falls area and the first anniversary of Montana as an aluminum producer.

Opening event Saturday is an 8 a.m. western style breakfast at the Rocky Mountain Riders Saddle club. Columbia Falls Chamber of Commerce will be host to representatives of Anaconda Aluminum Co., Plum Creek Lumber Co., Superior Buildings Co., Stoltze Land & Lumber Co., and Rocky Mountain Lumber Co.

James Cumming, Columbia Falls attorney and a past president of the chamber, will be master of ceremonies. Bob Moody, chamber president, will welcome the guests.

Next event is a tour of local industries.

Anaconda Aluminum Co. is arranging for the first public auto caravan tour of the plant staring at 9 a.m. Last tour is to start at 10 a.m. Arrangement is to drive up in your car and then through the gate.

Persons interested in regular tours inside the buildings should take the 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday trips for persons over 14 years old.

Plum Creek Lumber Co. will be operating Saturday morning. Persons wishing to go through the mill Lions Club Parade Entry should go to the new office building, and from there will be conducted through the mill and planer.

Arrangements at Superior Buildings Co. are to have a supervisor on hand to welcome interested persons.

No regular tour schedule is planned, nor is one being planned at Rocky Mountain Lumber Co. or at Stoltze Land & Lumber Co. where the new sawmill building is nearing completion.

However, officials of the three mills expressed a cordial welcome for persons who wanted to stop by, even though there wouldn't be regular tours.

The chamber has also invited Supv. F. J. Neitzling of Flathead National Forest; Supt. J. W. Emmert of Glacier National Park, and E. L Gochnauer, superintendent of the Hungry Horse project, to the Saturday breakfast.

--- Hungry Horse News



Watermelon Race



August 17, 1956: Falls Celebrates Successful Progress Days

There was standing room only at Rocky Mountain Riders grounds Sunday for the Jackpot O-Mok-See held in connection with Progress Days. Many riders and a large crowd of spectators turned out for the show.

O-Mok-See Winners: Winners were announced by the club Plate Race as follows (staring with first, in order).

  • Kids pony race (under 14 hands) - Tend Waggener, Marion Nordtome and Hazel Burnside.

  • Kids pony race (14 hands and over) - Diana McKeen, Sally McMurdo and Kent Lindsey.

  • Pole bending, men - Eugene Sullivan, Rex Burnside and Forrest Rockwood.

  • Calf riding, kids - Leon Ravan, Allen Reynolds and Karen Davidson.

  • Three-eights mile race, women - Margaret Giese, Rosella Taylor and Carol Schultz.

  • Calf roping, men - George Hendrickson, Dick Walter and Frank Ellman.

  • Rescue race, man and woman team - Rodney Bates and Sheri Torgerson, Roger Norton and Carol Schultz, Denny Howke and Sally McMurdo.

  • Pole bending, women - Delores Weaver and Carol Schultz.

  • Pole bending, Calf Riding kids - Sally McMurdo, Rodney Bates and Marion Nordtome, Gretna Green - Rex Burnside and Rosella Taylor, Roger Norton and Marian Manning, Rodney Bates and Sheri Torgerson.

  • Relay race - Rex Burnside and Carol Elgin.

  • Three-eighths mile race, men - Richard Maddux, John Houseal and Ralph Mitchell.

Winners in the beard growing contest were Dennis Benzien, Bill Fish, Bob Moody, Norman Allen and E. L. Mateka.

Committees Serving: Saddle club committees working on the Sunday events were as follows:

  • Parade - E. J. Lundstrom, Pat Warner, Bud Ellman and Sid Michels.

  • O-Mok-See - Jasper Johnston.

  • Grounds - George Butzlaff, Leonard Leeman, Ray Ellman, Cecil Hudson, Elmer Ellingson, Red Lavadure and Herb Strauss.

  • Tickets - Marge Murphy, Lena Ellingson, Sherry Davis and Ray Murphy.

  • Chuck wagon - Minnie Butzlaff, Reba Lavadure, Mary Lundstrom, Chuck Myers, Bob Moody (chamber of commerce) and Vi Greene.

  • Pop stand - Ellen Leeman, Pearl Johnston, Vera Myers, Glenda Strauss, Mamie Weaver and Linda Blackmer.

  • Breakfast - Lundstrom, Minnie Butzlaff, Ellen Leeman, Reba Lavadure, Mary Lou Ellman, Linda Blackmer, Pie Eating Contest Pearl Johnston, Chuck Myers, Mary Lundstrom, Marge Murphy and Vi Greene.

  • Registration - George Strauss, Sarah Ellman and Yvonne Warner.

  • Calf roping - Robert Burns. Calf riding - Chuck Myers. Starter - Howard Nines.

  • Judges and timers - Karl Dodge, Arlee; Earl Gardner, Glen Burnside and Buck Weaver, Kalispell; Jake Blanchard, Plains; Ozzie Schmechel and Adrian Buckland, Whitefish, and Sid Michels and Art Weaver. Announcer was Cal Crouch.

The saddle club gave a vote of thanks to the public or supporting the O-Mok-See and making it a success.

Kids Participate In Games And Derby: Progress Days last weekend included a Parade Entry slate of events planned for the youngsters. A free movie was shown for them. Friday afternoon a fish derby and organized games were held and treats given out, Saturday.

The derby drew numerous contestants, but fishing in the Flathead river between Bad Rock Canyon and the Red Bridge proved to be poor that morning. Winners for the heaviest trout caught were Gary Orndorff, first; Leon Hooper, second, and Pat Ryan, third. Loren Kreck, P. T. Smithey and Hal Kanzler were in charge of the event.

Ice cream bars and cups were given to kids, donated by Equity Supply Co. and Greig's Dairy, who each contributed 125.

A good sized crowd took part in the games, behaving well and having a good time, according to sponsors of the project. Helping were Spencer Koppang, George Aubert, Chuck Hertzer, Mel Lane and John Gilbert.

A watermelon race for three different groups started the program.

Sack race had the following winners:

Pre-school first and second grades - Marilyn Saurey Parade Entry - Flathead Rescue and Butch Smith, first; Vicki Barnhart and Kenneth Sullivan, second and Rose Chabot and Darrell Kollenborn, third.

Third, fourth and fifth grades - Shirley Lutz and Tome Morales, first; Carolyn Good and Bob Moody, second and Michele Sullivan and Kermit Johnsrud, third.

Sixth, seventh and eight - Margery Hoerner and Arlo Barbo, first; Audry Crumley and Bob Fulton, second, and Patsy Crumley and Dick Fulton, third.

Plate race partner winners were: Young group - Butch Smith and Jan Orndorff, first; Rita Orem and Blenda Orem, second, and Marilyn Saurey and Steven Klein, third.

Middle group - Lyell Gratzmeyre Old Timers Picnic and Richard Darling, first; Bob Moody and Dennis Kopitzke, second, and Lee Bechwith and Don Cook, third.

Older group - Kenneth Grady and Brian Orndorff, first; Sandraok and Rose Darsow, second, and Jay Johson and Dick Fulton, third.

Pie eating contest winners were Brian Orndorff, Pat Kearns, Kathy Woessner and Melody Almond, first through fourth.

Bank Wins Trophy For Best Float: Bank of Columbia Falls won the traveling trophy, Sunday, in the Progress Days parade. Their entry was a huge white swan. The 18" mahogany trophy was given by the Rocky Mountain Riders Saddle Club.

--- Hungry Horse News



Other 1956 Progress Days Images

Bank of Columbia Falls - Winner!

Hot Rod

G and G Service

Mule Ride

Calf Riding

Pee Wee Baseball

Girls Plate Race

Boys Plate Race

Pie Eating Contest

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