Published: Friday, July 18, 2014
By Gwyneth Hyndman
One of Troy, Montana's landmarks is only now becoming part of the City of Troy, after a long, colorful history as an information point for tourists, a gathering place for the community’s history - and more than 50 years ago, a scenic hub that was a quick stop-off for Elvis Presley.
Beth Schweitzer, one of the volunteers of the Troy Museum, which is housed in one of the buildings at the old train platform, remembers being one of a small group of girls and boys in the spring of 1958. The group anxiously arrived at the Troy train station on Yaak Avenue, after a tip-off from a classmate’s father who worked at the railway station: Elvis was coming into town.
In contrast to most Elvis sightings, there wasn’t a huge crowd to greet him, Schweitzer remembered. It was quiet and still when the train finally stopped. They waited for about 15 minutes. And then the door of the caboose opened. Elvis appeared and waved.
“Where am I?” he asked.
Schweitzer remembers answering with everyone around her: “You’re in Troy.”
Schweitzer’s friend and Libby resident Carol Cady said the 18 mile journey to Troy to see Elvis was well worth any arguments she had later on with her parents.
“He would have just come off the Ed Sullivan show, where it showed how he moved below the waist,” Cady said, adding that Elvis’ hip movements were nothing compared to entertainment now. “But back then, Elvis was pretty off the charts.”
That brief visit by The King was alluded to after a special meeting on Wednesday night’s Troy City Council meeting. The council voted to annex the 19.68 acres that includes the museum property and the building, finally incorporating the site into the city limits. This was after nearly 30 years of the structure and property legally belonging to Lincoln County, which the county received after a railroad easement defaulted.
Once part of the main railway building on Yaak Ave – believed to be used for baggage or equipment storage by Great Northern Railroad – the structure was moved to its current location on Highway 2 in the mid-70s, an event Schweitzer remembers as being tricky, as the building had to be moved by truck and trailer down the road, as she and her family looked on. Clippings found in the museum say the 26-foot-by-36-foot structure had been abandoned with the change of the railroad terminal from Troy. The structure was sold by Martin McCann for $225 and was uprooted and moved to its present location at the entrance of the Timber Beast disc golf course.
For Schweitzer – who has fond memories of being a Elvis-crazed teenager on the platform of the depot – caring for a portion of that historical hub has been an investment in time and energy, a legacy she inherited from her mother, and one of the museum’s founding members, Peggy Maness.
Schweitzer said Elvis ended up stepping off the train and spending about half an hour with the group of kids, asking them about Troy and what it was like to live in a small town.
“We never, ever expected him to step off the train,” Schweitzer said. “We told him all about school and our town. I think we were hoping he would want to come back....then he got back on the train and disappeared.”
She had one small, but valuable item to remember Elvis by: a piece of paper, pulled out last minute before he got back on the train, and quickly handed up to him for his signature.
That piece of paper is buried somewhere in her belongings, though when she finds it, Schweitzer said she wasn’t so keen on letting Elvis leave the building – even to go to the Troy Museum.
“When I find it, I think it is something I would keep.”