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Gallatin History Museum Lecture : Galloping in the Gallatin

Join MOR and the Gallatin History Museum for monthly lectures focused on the dynamic and lively history of the Gallatin Valley.

Organized horse racing in Bozeman dates to the 1870s, Three Forks may have hosted the first Steeplechases in Montana, and Bozeman was the birthplace of William “Smokey” Saunders, a Triple Crown-winning jockey. But Gallatin County’s brightest years centered in nearby Belgrade during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1954, Lloyd Shelhamer Jr., and his wife, the former Jane Ringling, built and operated the Beaumont Club, the most glamorous and modern racetrack in Montana.

For centuries, on prairie grasslands, dusty streets and racing ovals, everyday Montanans participated in the sport of kings. More than a century after horses arrived in the region, Lewis and Clark's Nez Perce guides staged horse races at Traveler's Rest in 1806. In response to hazardous street races, the Montana legislature granted communities authority to ban "immoderate riding or driving." Helena led the way to respectable racing, with Madam Coady's fashion course hosting the first territorial fair in 1868. Soon, leading citizens like Marcus Daly built oval tracks and glitzy grandstands. By 1890, a horse named Bob Wade set a world record for a quarter-mile in Butte, a mark that stood until 1958. Horsewoman and historian Brenda Wahler highlights the Big Sky's patrons of the turf and courageous equine champions, including Kentucky Derby winner Spokane.

NOTE: All lectures have a limited capacity and are open on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open 30 minutes prior to each lecture. Attendees may not save seats for others.