For centuries, on prairie grasslands, dusty streets and racing ovals, everyday Montanans participated in the sport of kings. Over a century after horses arrived in the region, Lewis and Clark’s Nez Perce guides staged horse races at Traveler’s Rest in 1806. Helena led the way to respectable racing with Madam Coady’s one-mile track hosting the first territorial fair in 1868. In response to hazardous street races, Montana Territory’s legislature granted communities authority to ban “immoderate riding or driving”. Consequently, leading citizens like Marcus Daly built oval tracks and glitzy grandstands. In 1890, a part-Thoroughbred 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 courageous equines of the turf—from local champions to Kentucky Derby winner Spokane. The Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives will continue its Brown Bag Lunch series on Wednesday, July 24, with a presentation and reading by Brenda Wahler as she discusses her new book, Montana Horse Racing: A History.
Brenda Wahler is a fourth-generation Montanan with a lifelong interest in horses and history. She showed horses in the 1970s and 1980s when the racing community was a major presence at fairgrounds across the country. Through college and beyond, she taught riding and judged horse shows. Today she is an attorney and owns Wahler Equine, an education and consulting business. She and her husband live near Helena, Montana with assorted horses and house pets. Her blog is at https://wahlerequine.wordpress.com
The presentation will begin at noon and run about an hour at the Archives, 17 W. Quartz. Guests are encouraged to bring a sack lunch. Coffee and water will be provided.
Brown Bag Lunches are held the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month. Upcoming lectures will focus on topics of local interest. For more information, contact the Archives at 782-3280.