(MTN News-Helena) 6th graders from CR Anderson got to travel back in time to learn how Montanan’s chose it’s capital city as Helena.

“Feeling like we were back in time, back to the 1800’s was a different experience,” said Ethan Johnson, CR Anderson 6th grader.

Montana was declared a state in 1889, but during the capitol election in 1894 people debated between Anaconda and Helena.
The students got to experience this bit of history first hand after hearing speeches from our current Lieutenant

Governor Mike Cooney and The Department of Commerce Deputy Director Doug Mitchell. Cooney spoke in favor of Anaconda and Mitchell spoke for Helena.

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“It’s a great and permanent mineral smelter center of the richest region in Montana,” said Mike Cooney, Montana Lieutenant Governor.

“By voting for Helena you are voting for freedom. You’ll be voting for each and everyone of us to be able to have our own decisions and develop our own destiny,” Doug Mitchell, Deputy Director of The Department of Commerce.

Cooney’s biggest argument was the financial gain of coal in Anaconda, but it wasn’t quite convincing the students.

Johnson said, “Trains provide transport and coal provides fuel for those trains so what do we do?”

While Mitchell said Helena is the most ideal location for trains in Montana and had a larger population.

“Since we have a lot of people here. A lot more people will be able to have job opportunities,” said Johnson.

After hearing both sides the students had to vote for which city should be the capital.

Each ballot was filled out, turned in and counted. The sixth graders voted 24 for Helena and three for Anaconda.

“Helena of course… Helena is a great place and I live here. They seemed to have a reasonable answer,” said Anna Fowler, CR Anderson 6th Grader.

“I felt Mr. Mitchell made a better claim,” Johnson mentioned.

Cooney said, “I think it’s a great way for them to learn and I think they’ll probably remember this more than id they sat in a classroom and read a book.”


Reporter: Sara Stinson, sstinson@ktvh.com