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Taking Time for Fun: A Look Back at Recreation in Billings Over the Years

Two couples at the Elmo Club at Lake Elmo, 1946. From left: Jim and Mary Bangart, Madlyn "Chic" and Malger "Blackie" Magilke. -- Courtesy Western Heritage Center

Two couples at the Elmo Club at Lake Elmo, 1946. From left: Jim and Mary Bangart, Madlyn "Chic" and Malger "Blackie" Magilke.

Courtesy Western Heritage Center

Life for early Billings pioneers consisted of hard work and few opportunities for relaxation. But with growth, innovation, and an ever-present propensity for fun, the people of Billings created more and more opportunities to seize what moments they could to enjoy themselves.  Sometimes it can be as simple as waiting for a lake to freeze and strapping up your skates. 

Over the years traditions were created in Billings; In 2017 the 99th annual Motorcycle Club hill climb event (now known as the Great American Pro Championship Motorcycle Hill Climb) was held. The event has grown over the years, now boasting multiple events in which top racing professionals compete on the newest models of motorcycle. 

While the crowds may grow and the cars may evolve, the spirit of fun and camaraderie established in early Billings remains the same to this day. Whether at a town-wide celebration, a company outing, or just relaxing between jobs, the people of Billings always seem to find a way to keep themselves entertained.

 Terry Park Skating Rink, 1920s. -- Courtesy Western Heritage Center

Terry Park Skating Rink, 1920s.

Courtesy Western Heritage Center

 A motorcycle rider charging up the hill during a Billings Motorcycle Club hill climb event, 1930s. -- Courtesy Joyce Jensen Collection, Western Heritage Center

A motorcycle rider charging up the hill during a Billings Motorcycle Club hill climb event, 1930s.

Courtesy Joyce Jensen Collection, Western Heritage Center

 A demolition derby at Billings' Belaro Speedway in May 1976. -- Courtesy Billings Gazette

A demolition derby at Billings' Belaro Speedway in May 1976.

Courtesy Billings Gazette

See these and hundreds more classic photos of Billings citizens at work and play in the Gazette's new book, Billings Memories: 100 Years of the Magic City.

Billings Memories: 100 Years of the Magic City Cover
The Billings Gazette presents Billings Memories: 100 Years of the Magic City

$29.95 $44.95

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