Plowing Up Gold: Montana 1910


An ad in Polish showcasing the bounty of Montana’s land.  It was created by the Milwaukee Road which the year before had completed its transcontinental line and needed to populate the route.  The word of Montana’s riches was spread across the US and throughout Europe.  It worked, helped by the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909 in which the government gave away some 4,000,000 acres of land for dryland farming — if it seems like an oxymoron, it (sort of) was.  Because of a few good years of rain and because of the effective ad campaign, Montana became known as the Treasure State when only a few years before it was characterized as desert in children’s text books.  I just read a wonderful piece by Jonathan Raban, The Unlamented West, published in the New Yorker — May 20, 1996.  It later became part of a book:


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