Montana Territorial Days and Classic Car Show in Deer Lodge, Montana

Spoiler alert: In Deer Lodge, the Montana Territorial Days celebration is really singular–Montana Territorial Day. The town (population 3,000 and change at last known tally) doesn’t have the people-crush to support more than that.

Which is fine by us. On Saturday, June 17, 2017, I mentioned to Pam that the doings were going on downtown. “I think I’ll grab the camera and go take some pictures.”

“Go for it,” she replied. My mate’s approval was welcome. Not waiting around for her to change her mind, I belted on the case holding the Canon PowerShot, fired up the Subaru Outback, and headed across the river. There were other things to do while I was out and about, of course. There always are. Like pick up the mail at the Post Office and snag a side of tomato soup and a side of good brown gravy at the 4B’s restaurant before heading home. I wound up clumsily dropping the soup and gravy to the floor at home, liberally decorating one shoe and a bit of the fridge in the process, but that’s another story. Today we’re talking about the pie eating contest.

That’s right; Territorial Days in Deer Lodge has a pie eating contest. The contestants have to buy the pies before eating them, then put their hands behind their backs and dig in, face first. There were plenty of witnesses, not to mention smart phones recording the action.

Getting ready for the go signal.

Time’s up. Looks like the gentleman at the far end of the table won this round…I think?

Montana Territory came into existence in 1865, followed by statehood in 1889. In other words, the Big Sky Country was a Territory for twenty-five years spanning the westward expansion following the Civil War, including a major portion of the period we know today as the Wild West when “horsepower” meant just that. At Deer Lodge in 2017, horsepower is primarily positioned under steel hoods, making sure the axles turn the wheels where the rubber meets the road.

We’re talking the Classic Car Show. And while there were a lot more entries at the last show where I took pictures (Sierra Vista, Arizona), there were plenty per capita displayed on Main Street in Deer Lodge…and none of them took a back seat, either. Truly, there were some impressive vehicles on display.

Most of the photos taken were of models built prior to 1960, just because those earlier models are quite frankly so cool. Take a look.

1935 Hudson Sedan, owned by Bob Goforth.

1939 Chevy Coupe, owned by Kent Webber.

1948 Oldsmobile owned by Jim & Kelly Johnson.

I really do not like the dashboard displays on today’s modern vehicles. Let’s take a look at the dash on that Oldsmobile, see what a real car dash looks like.

1048 Oldsmobile dashboard.

There was one extremely serious item on display. Not a classic car, but a playhouse being raffled off by R & C Home Improvement to raise money for Ninah Steber, who has been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and is currently in Seattle waiting for a bone marrow transplant. Raffle tickets available at R & C Home Improvement.

Back to the classic cars. Don’t mind the upgrades, such as the tires on the 1929 Model A Ford shown in the next photo. Authentic tire design and engineering in 1929 had a long way to go.

1929 Model A Ford Sedan, owned by Dennis & Carol Abbott.

One of the few “later” model vehicles photographed was the following 1970 C10 pickup. It has been turned into a convertible truck that is just too cool for words. I’d never own a convertible of any sort if it could be avoided, but the look is awesome.

1970 Chevy C10, owned by Todd Talbott.

Next comes the lone farm tractor on display, a 1944 Model B John Deere. The first snapshot makes that rear tire really pop out at you, doesn’t it?

1944 Model B John Deere. This is a two-cylinder model with a tricycle front end.

At least one entry was loaded for bear with a trunk full of nitro. Later in the afternoon, when this car headed out from the show at a sedate idle, it surely sounded like a full race cam. Kind of doubt I’d have fared well back in my rough and rowdy days, trying to match my ’52 Chevy with its straight six engine against this beast.

Trunk full of nitro.

Spaced logically around the venue, there were three spots of live music that enlivened the event that much more.

Writing about car shows, the biggest problem is always selecting the photos, editing down until the number posted will allow the page to actually come up in a reasonable amount of time. There are always many outstanding vehicles left out, and I hate that, but it can’t be helped. That said, here are a few more.

My personal favorite is this 1956 Chevy 2 door hardtop. I just love those lines.

1932 Ford coupe, owned by John & Larie Williams.

1926 Dodge Brothers roadster, owned by Martin Drivdahl.


A lot of the children, too young to drive, showed little interest in the four wheeled machines. Oh, some did. The occasional eight year old is amazingly knowledgeable about these mechanical marvels. (As opposed to the computerized marvels most folks drive today.) But overall, the slides and game venues proved bigger hits with the younger set.

The point here is to knock the other guy off his pedestal.

The break has been great, but it’s time to get back to work. Our 1972 double wide needs some TLC, and if it’s to be, it’s up to me.

4 thoughts on “Montana Territorial Days and Classic Car Show in Deer Lodge, Montana

  1. Looks like a good time. Sometimes the smaller celebrations are better. It is easier to see the whole thing. Looks like you got around a little bit.

  2. Exactly; this one covered all of three blocks plus maybe half a block up a couple of side streets. Didn’t take long to cover it all.

  3. Beautiful cars, Ghost! I just love the old classics. You don’t see that kind of character today. And you won’t see today’s cars on the road in 40 or 50 years, either! They sure don’t make ’em like they used to!

  4. I agree, Sha. And if we see a Zombie Apocalypse in our lifetimes, today’s cars won’t be running at all, most likely. Today’s solar eclipse wiped out our Verizon coverage for hours; we just got it back. (AT&T did fine, as an elderly couple in the next booth at the restaurant gleefully pointed out to me this evening.) If a mere eclipse can do that much damage, though, think what a really huge solar flare or enemy EMP strike, etc., could do almost instantly. Anything dependent on computers would go flooey in a heartbeat.

    Whereas with a relatively simply carbureted engine (one that uses a carburetor rather than computer controlled fuel injection to get gasoline to the cylinders), you might in some cases need to replace the battery, but that would be about it. Even today, 55 years after going to school for that sort of thing, I could swap out engines in a 1950’s or 1960’s vehicle without hesitation.

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