Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fields of gold ...

At least among historians, this is probably one of the best-known pieces of commercial art ever created about Montana. This is the cover of a promotional brochure printed by the MIlwaukee Road back in 1917, part of an advertising campaign designed to lure homesteaders to the state. Plowing up gold coins from the Montana prairies .. definitely an allegory that would be hard to resist.

The Milwaukee, of course, was just one of many entities that promoted Montana homesteading back in the 1910s. Unfortunately, this brochure was released during the last great year of the homestead boom. Before long, years of drought and lower commodity prices would force most of the homesteaders to move on, leaving behind a shattered eastern Montana economy.

But still, it's a great image.


  1. It IS a great image! Wow. If only that were the case, when farming in Montana....my daughter has been intrigued by the idea of richness, and we've been discussing the different kinds of "rich". We have other wealth, but not the gold kind. She'd love this one!

  2. I have the feeling you guys have the kind of wealth that's far better than gold coins. :)

    But yeah ... what an ad! Couldn't be further from reality, especially in the part of the world the Milwaukee Road served. The funny thing is, they really didn't realize it at the time -- people actually believed that dry-land farming would work all over the state, no matter how dry it was.

  3. Mark-

    I can't see the image (City internet filter); could you email it to me?

  4. The city has a "railroad porn" internet filter??? You're kidding! :)

    Anyhow, an e-mail is on the way ...