Montana State Legislative Board marks 100th anniversary

The month of May marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of the BLET Montana State Legislative Board, and was acknowledged at a meeting of the Board held in Billings, Montana, May 21-22.

In addition to BLET Division Legislative Representatives from Montana, several invited guests attended, including: Edward W. Rodzwicz, BLET First Vice President; Raymond Holmes, BLET Vice-President & National Legislative Representative; Dale McPherson, BLET Vice-President (and a founding member of Division 180 in Glendive, Mont.); Dennis Pierce, BNSF-MRL General Chairman; and, Mike Muscha, Chairman of the North Dakota State Legislative Board.

The Guest of Honor was Brother Calvin Burr, former Montana State Legislative Board Chairman and oldest surviving past Chairman. Brother Burr is a longtime member of Division 392 (Havre, Mont.) and started his railroad career on the Great Northern railroad in the days of the steam engines.

During the business meeting, Montana State Legislative Board Chairman Craig Gilchrist read aloud out of the original hand-written journal containing the minutes from the meeting when the Board was first formed on May 17, 1904.

The journal, which has been preserved over the years, is now a keepsake of the Board. He noted with interest, that in reviewing the old journal, it reflects discussions as many as 40 years ago aboutt the matter of locomotive engineer licensing.

"The Board has a long history of activism and involvement with the political process in Montana in defense of working men and women, a past of which our members can be proud, and one of which I am honored to continue," said Chairman Gilchrist.

He noted that Montana was the first state to have every Division in the State affiliated with the Montana AFL-CIO and counts that as another means by which the cause of railworkers can be advanced.

In addition to the anniversary celebration, the Board members attended a Railroad Retirement informational conference, met with officials of the Federal Railroad Administration, heard reports from senior BLET officers attending, and held a business meeting.

Election of officers also took place during the meeting. Chairman Gilchrist was reelected as Chairman. He is a member of Division 298 in Glasgow, Mont. Murray Hurlburt of Division 392 (Havre, Mont.) was elected to the office of Vice-Chairman; Duane C. Wetsch of Division 195 (Forsyth, Mont.) was elected Secretary-Treasurer; and Dave Torgerson of Division 499 (Whitefish, Mont.) was elected Alternate Secretary-Tresurer.

Delegates and invited guests attending recent Montana State Legislative Board meetings pose on the pilot of engine #1301, a hand-fired steam locomotive used as a switch engine in the Northern Pacific Railroad yards in Glendive, Mont. The locomotive is now on display in Billings, Mont.

The attendees gathered May 21-22 in Billings to mark the 100th anniversary of the Board and to conduct their quadrennial business meeting.

Front row, from left: Evan Schroedel, Division 504 (Great Falls, Mont.); BLET National Vice-President D.L. McPherson (Division 180, Glendive, Mont.); BNSF-MRL General Chairman Dennis Pierce; and Montana State Legislative Board Chairman Craig Gilchrist, Division 298 (Glasgow, Mont.).

Middle row: Barry Green, Division 180 (Glendive, Mont.); BLET Vice-President & U.S. National Legislative Representative Raymond Holmes; Retired Montana State Legislative Board Chairman Calvin Burr, Division 392 (Havre, Mont.); BLET First Vice-President Edward W. Rodzwicz; and MSLB Alternate Secretary-Treasurer Dave Torgerson, Division 499 (Whitefish, Mont.).

Back row: North Dakota State Legislative Board Chairman Mike Muscha; MSLB Secretary-Treasurer Duane Wetsch, Division 195 (Forsyth, Mont.); Jim Cowan, Division 262 (Missoula, Mont.); and MSLB Vice-Chairman Murray Hurlburt, Division 392 (Havre, Mont.)

Present but not pictured is former MSLB Chairman D.B. Ditzel, Division 232 (Laurel, Mont.).



© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen