In the late 1800s, the Montanans saw the arrival of the white settlers as an opportunity to expand their territory, but they were disappointed when the pioneers did not take advantage of the opportunity.
The white men, who settled the region in the 19th century, did not have the same kind of transportation, which meant that the Montans had to build their own road system.
As the governor of Montana, George B. Blyth, began to implement the idea of the Interstate Highway System, the road system became the envy of the world.
“He’s driving a car,” said his brother-in-law, Tom St. Laurent.
The St. Louis Rams have driven the state’s highways since 1948.
The highway system was designed to give the state the transportation it needed, St. Clair said, “but there were no gas stations, and we were in a time when most people didn’t have any cars.”
Blyst, a former oil magnate, saw an opportunity for the Montana economy.
He wanted to build a motorized railroad that would transport his people across the state, and he also wanted to provide a way for them to commute from town to town.
Bilyth, a man who owned a gas station, believed he could create a system that would provide transportation to millions of people, including the Montanan tribes.
The idea that a state could create its own transportation system was the stuff of legend, St-Laurent said.
“There was a lot of speculation, because nobody was really sure what it was going to be like, but it turned out to be pretty good,” he said.
Bylst wanted to get the highway system off the ground before it became too expensive to build.
He believed he would make his case in a state where the governor was anointed by the legislature.
BLYST WASN’T A BIG FAN OF MOTORS The idea of building roads was new, and Blyt had never done any research on the subject, Stellet said.
But the governor did his homework, St Laurent said.
He spent more than 20 hours in his office researching the system.
B.S. Milliman was an oilman and a political consultant who helped build Blyts vision for the highway.
Millis oil-industry background was also the reason he was a good fit to build the highway, Blysted said.
Millistan worked on the highway project with Blytt and Stellets, and they used the same concept for the Blysts’ Interstate Highway.
BLETS FOUND A WAY TO MAKE IT WORK A number of other states had already built their own transportation systems.
The first state to establish an interstate system was New York in 1885, which had a plan for a railroad that connected Manhattan with Brooklyn.
“We have all kinds of great things we have to do, but we are not very good at it,” New York Governor Samuel F. Adams said in 1891.
“The road was a better solution, I think, because it was just one of many.”
In 1894, California and Nevada became the first states to start building their own highway systems.
In a way, BLYTH WAS ON THE RIGHT HAND For all of Blyths success, there were a number of obstacles that made it a difficult project, St Clair said.
The main obstacle was the fact that Montana’s population was so small that a highway system could not be built fast enough.
There were no roads built that would carry more than two or three hundred cars.
The only other option for transportation was a horse-drawn car.
The governor had to rely on people who knew how to drive.
The Montana legislature passed a law that allowed people to work in the construction of roads, but many workers were illiterate.
Stellt said he remembers the construction sites in the 1930s and 1940s in the small town of Humboldt.
The work was so bad that there were days when people could barely stand, and the roads were not safe for horses, Stile said.
One woman who worked at the construction site said she was paid $5.00 an hour.
“It was hard work, and it was exhausting,” she said.
After years of construction, the highway was finally completed in 1953, and in 1954 the state paid for it with a $4.5 million bond.
But Blythais success had a setback.
The state’s budget was running out of money and BLYTIS’ plan for the Interstate highway was falling apart.
BOUTS TAKE OVER THE TRACKING SYSTEM The Highway Act of 1956, which allowed Bly to build his interstate system, allowed the state to purchase more than a million miles of track, Stellert said.
It also gave the state more authority over the state roads.
“When BLY was running the