Yellowstone Genealogy Forum

 

Logan Field – Billings Airport

 

Revised 2 September 2001c

Click for Billings, Montana Forecast

In 1925, the Commercial Club (predecessor to the Chamber of Commerce) sought to have a Billings-Cheyenne mail route. This led to the desire for an airfield. In 1927, Ben Harwood took an option of 120 acres of land for $1,000 cash. Billings set up an award of $300 to the first two planes participating in a Spokane Air Derby to arrive here. In August of 1927, the club completed arrangements to purchase the land located on top of the rims from funds to be raised later. The committee members changed their minds about the location, and thought that land two blocks from the Northern Pacific Depot, and south of the subway (McAdow Addition west of Billings, on Brickyard Road] would be better. The department of Commerce rejected this location stating that the bluffs east of the river (Yellowstone) is too near the rimrock cliffs. As a result, options were taken to buy the Ethyl McCulloch and Thurm properties on the rims by a city tax levy.

In 1929, Dick Logan and many volunteers leveled the land on the rims with a small tractor and fresno. The back runway was graded and a 16 x 12 foot administration building was constructed. A well was dug 62 feet deep through the rock, and failed to reach water. A hangar was built at a cost of $12,000 and repaid to the council members later by the city. Billings air transportation started in June 1928 when Nick Maner landed a single-engine, four-place biplane, putting Maner Air Lines in business. By September the airline folded due to many crack-ups. Manner continued to fly, but for Northwest airlines. It was over six miles to the airport using back roads.

In 1931, Earl Vance piloted a Border Air Lines plane from Great Falls to join the Wyoming Air Service at Sheridan. Inland Air Lines operated routes for many years after 1932.

In 1933, Northwest made billings one of its major stops on the Chicago to Seattle route. A federal grant of $47,000 financed additional work on the field by farmers using about 100 horses.

In 1934, 27th street was blasted through the rims’ edge, and travel by auto was possible, although very difficult.

Photos from Billings Gazette, October 30, 1934

In 1939, using WPA labor, the runways were paved, and assisted in the financing of high school aviation crafts. A control tower was built in 1942. Until 1910 people wishing to go the top of the rims had to travel by way of the Black Otter Trail. The Chamber of Commerce decided there should be a better way for sightseers to get there. Workers from the Heffner Quarry built these steps, located behind the MSU-Billings campus. Students from the Billings Polytechnic Institute cut a second set of steps, north of Rocky Mountain College. These steps originally led to a cross that was located at the top. The Myers family cut a third set of steps.

 

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