One hundred years ago, on April 6, 1917, the United States went into a war, a conflict that would have a profound effect at home and abroad. For Montana, this was a war of opportunity for many, trouble for some, and change for all. On that fateful day, the United States, at last, entered a European war, a war that had been raging since 1914. The oceans around us were shrinking, and the world, the U.S., and Montana would never be the same.
It is hard today to comprehend how vitally important, Montana, The Treasure State’s forestry, mining, smelting, and, refining were to the national war effort. It has been said, with a lot of truth to it, that every bullet fired in World War I was encased in Butte copper, and the world was "wired" by copper from Great Falls refineries. In addition, Montana’s amber waves of grain helped feed a starving world. And, Montana’s cowboys, miners, foresters, farmers, nurses, and other women, went to war to win, under the battle cry, “Powder River, Let ‘Er Buck” that would resonate on the battlefields in France. Montana men served in the Great War in a greater percentage than any other state.
Ken Robison will be sharing local stories researched during his writing of his latest book, World War I Montana: The Treasure State Prepares, which covers the dramatic first year of the war, as the U.S. and Montana mobilized and prepared for a decisive role in the Great War.