Calendar Of Events » High Noon Lecture Series


Historic Restaurants of Billings

April 20, 2017 — Noon

by Stella Fong

Billings exploded when the railroad arrived, and good food was here to stay. Montana Avenue anchored the first establishments serving oysters, chop suey and steaks. Modern comfort arrived with the Northern Hotel and never left. Locals sipped, savored and swung at the Skyline, Bella Vista, Elmo and Windmill Supper Clubs from the 1930s to the 1960s. Entrepreneurs debuted the Level 3 Tea Room, La Toque, Bruno's and New Moon Cafe. Beef still reigns at the Rex, Jake's and Bistecca at the Granary. Writer Stella Fong testifies why names like Yegen, McCormick, Schaer and Honaker have persisted throughout Billings' culinary history.

Sponsored by: Western Heritage Center Volunteers in Memory of Guy Liautaud


The Beartooth Highway: A History of America’s Most Beautiful Drive

May 18, 2017 — Noon

by Jon Axline

Traversing the spectacular Beartooth Highway in Montana and Wyoming is an unforgettable experience. The unspoiled mountain scenery along the highway inspired famed news correspondent Charles Kuralt to label it "America's most beautiful drive," yet the story behind this engineering marvel is largely unknown. It is an epic account of man versus nature to construct a road through unforgiving wilderness. Built during the height of the Great Depression and rising 10,947 feet above sea level, the Beartooth Highway sparked an economic boom in Red Lodge, Cooke City and Yellowstone National Park. Understandably, it continues to leave a profound impression on people privileged to drive it. Historian Jon Axline tells the exciting and colorful narrative behind the origins and construction of the Beartooth Highway.

Sponsored by: Bill and Anne Cole


"My Duties... Are not So Clearly Laid Down...": Fort Ellis and The Problems of Command on the Montana Frontier

June 15, 2017 — Noon

by Tom Rust

Established in 1867 in the Gallatin Valley of Montana, Fort Ellis played a key role in the development of the Montana frontier. From post commanders attacking the town to restoring order when riotous mobs got out of control, explore the ambivalent, albeit contentious, relationship from 1867 to 1886 between civilians and soldiers in whimsical but dramatic fashion. Competing visions of economic and military conditions on the frontier led to a complex relationship that has all the drama of a Hollywood western. Join MSU-Billings history professor Dr. Thomas C. Rust as he examines the fort’s impact on the social and economic development of early Bozeman, the problems of military command, and the dynamics of the soldier-civilian interaction on Montana’s frontier.

Sponsored by: Anonymous


Sgt. John Ordway of the Lewis and Clark Expedition*

July 20, 2017 — Noon

by Arch Ellwein

Ellwein brings Sgt. John Ordway to life in a first-person portrayal set in 1813. First Sergeant Ordway was the only member of the Lewis and Clark expedition to record a journal entry for every single day of the journey from Camp DuBois or Wood River until their return. Seven years after returning, Ordway is a farmer in Missouri Territory, tilling the ground deeded to him from the U.S. government because of his service on the expedition. Learn about his perspective as he reminisces about "...the greatest adventure of my life." Later the audience has the opportunity to ask questions of the sergeant and then of the actor.

Sponsored by: Humanities Montana and D.A. Davidson


Sidesaddles and Geysers: Women’s Adventures in Early Yellowstone*

August 17, 2017 — Noon

by M. Mark Miller

In the 19th century, hundreds of women risked being mauled by a bear, scalded in a geyser, or captured by an Indian to see the wonders of Yellowstone Park—and lived to tell their stories. Miller presents the very best of these travelers’ tales selected from his collection of more than 200 first-person accounts of Yellowstone travel. He covers the period between 1872 when the park was established through the Model T era in the 1920s. Yellowstone Park changed dramatically in this period. The presentation describes how developments such as roads, railroads, and hotels altered “the Yellowstone experience.” Miller places travelers’ experiences in context with biographical information, bringing the women’s stories to life in their own words and illustrating them with historic photos.

Sponsored by: Humanities Montana and D.A. Davidson


Pork Cake, Beef Fudge and Huckleberry Pie: What Can Food Tell Us About Montana History?

September 21, 2017 — Noon

by Mary Murphy

What can food tell us about Montana history? Montana’s foodways reflect the dynamic relationship between immigrant cultures and new environments. Drawing upon the Montana Historical Society’s impressive cookbook collection, Dr. Mary Murphy, professor in Montana State University’s Department of History and Philosophy, explores the ways in which the serious examination of food dishes up new ways of thinking about our shared past.

Sponsored by: Dave and Lynda Ballard, Joe Dillard, and Stella Fong


Wonderlandscape: A Cultural History of Yellowstone National Park

October 19, 2017 — Noon

by John Clayton

Yellowstone is America's premier national park. Today is often a byword for conservation, natural beauty, and a way for everyone to enjoy the great outdoors. But it was not always this way. Wonderlandscape presents a new perspective on Yellowstone, the emotions various natural wonders and attractions evoke, and how this explains the park's relationship to America as a whole.

Whether it is artists or naturalists, entrepreneurs or pop-culture icons, each character in the story of Yellowstone ends up reflecting and redefining the park for the values of its era. For example, when Ernest Thompson Seton wanted to observe bears in 1897, his adventures highlighted the way the park transformed from a set of geological oddities to a wildlife sanctuary, reflecting a nation was concerned about disappearing populations of bison and other species. Subsequent eras added Rooseveltian masculinity, democratic patriotism, ecosystem science, and artistic inspiration as core Yellowstone hallmarks.

As the National Park system enters its second century, Wonderlandscape allows us to reflect on the values and heritage that Yellowstone alone has come to represent―how it will shape the America's relationship with her land for generations to come.

Sponsored by: NorthWestern Energy


Latino America, Latino Montana*

November 16, 2017 — Noon

by Bridget Kevane

Who are Hispanics or Latinos? What is immigration reform? Why should we care? Latinos in America—Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans, and Mexicans—have had a long and important role in the shaping of the United States. Montana is no exception. Learn about our state’s Latino history, which began even before 1889, and about the more recently arrived community of Latinos in the state.

Sponsored by: Humanities Montana


History of Billings’ Parks

December 21, 2017 — Noon

by Elisabeth DeGrenier

Join us to learn the history of Billings’ earliest parks. From North Park to Lake Elmo to Pioneer – WHC Community Historian, Elisabeth DeGrenier, will explore how Billings’ parks were created and share stories of the events and activities they held.

Sponsored by: Available!


Community 7 TV Schedule: Following the week of the noon-hour lecture, the program will air the next three weekends on Community 7 Friday at 5pm, Saturday at 4pm, and Sunday at 7am and 4pm. Programs are streamed live online at