Monday, July 9, 2012

Smoking Boomer

Some dispute the story of Fort Benton’s famous dog Shep, whose statue sits along the banks of the Missouri River. But here’s a dog story to rival Fort Benton’s, and there are pictures to prove its truth. The railroad town of Harlowton was a division point along the Milwaukee Road where the railroad’s electrified section originated. In 1940, a big, burly dog rode into the Harlowton rail yards on a Milwaukee train. Roundhouse Foreman Phil Leahy gave him a meal, and the two became fast friends. Leahy taught the dog tricks. He could stand on his head, and he wore safety glasses and carried a briar pipe in his mouth. Smoking Boomer, as he was called, could often be seen walking the depot platform with the pipe clamped securely between his powerful jaws.

For nine years, Smoking Boomer greeted the Milwaukee Road’s passenger train, the Hiawatha, entertaining travelers and posing for pictures. When he died in 1949, town citizens bought him a casket and gave the dog a proper burial. Smoking Boomer was not forgotten. In 2006, the City of Harlowton and volunteers established a recreational trail. Its northern end follows the Main Line of the old Milwaukee Railroad. The trail is officially named the Smoking Boomer Rail Trail. What a great way to remember Harlowton’s most special canine.

From Montana Moments: History on the Go
P.S. Remember this loyal cattle dog?

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic threaded discussion. I just received a Blue Ray copy of the movie and the book for Christmas. Looking forward to reading and watching. At age 67, I too am haunted by waters and each time I go fishing, those people of my past who are no longer alive, go with me. I think that is why NM wrote the book; it is for several people, not just Paul. He names some of them in the movie and their words are under the rocks. I feel a kinship with this story. I am not an emotional guy, but the ending always brings tears to my eyes.