Dusting Off the Old Ones was published in 1961 by W. B. Clarke, Miles City, Montana.
The Jumping of Riverside Park
Sam Gordon, in his "Recollections of Old Milestown", tells a part of the story of the "Jumping of Riverside Park" but, while browsing through some of the early editions of the Yellowstone Journal the other night, we ran onto an editorial in the September 29, 1883 issue, which went into more detail concerning the story than we have ever heard, so we will give you readers the benefit of our browsing and give you the story in full as it appears in the Journal. But before starting the "quotes", we had better explain that when the Fort Keogh reservation was established by the executive order of the president, it consisted of a tract of land approximately ten miles square, and that the east line of this tract/north and east of Tongue river was what is now Haynes avenue, extended south to the river. That portion of the reservation between Tongue river and the line that is now Haynes avenue was later taken from the reservation and thrown open to settlement with the exception of a ferry boat landing on Tongue river, which comprises the tract now known as Riverside Park. A little further history--the most of the business houses in Miles City were first located on Main street facing the park and on Fifth street (which was at that time called Park street) facing the park. And now, quoting from the story:

"Two gentlemen sitting in the office of the Palace restaurant last evening were discussing the probable action of the government as to the matter of the reduction of the area of the military reserve at Fort Keogh, and the restoration to the public domain of those portions of it lying on the right bank of Tongue river and on the left bank of the Yellowstone river. A number of listeners were present who seemed to be attracted to the disscussion, which was animated. The conversation finally disclosed the fact that last winter a memorial had been presented to Congress praying for the reduction indicated, and that both the Executive and the Secretary of the Interior favorably considered the project and would undoubtedly recommend a law granting effect to the prayer of the memorial.

The question then naturally arose whether one might not anticipate the action of the government, and acquire the benefits of prior occupancy, and on all sides it was agreed, as a matter of opinion, that it could be done. Just at this moment someone suggested that the proper thing to do, would be to jump the park, and await contingencies. No sooner had this suggesion been presented when Lieutenant Malden of the telegraphie staff of the Journal (he was the janitor), slid out the doors, and, finding a wheelbarrow, commenced to cart his stove and bedding on to a 'lot' as he called it, and which he proposed to hold. Mr. Bishop of the firm of Bishop & Baehr, proprietors of the restaurant, who had been an attentive, and as he supposed, an intelligent listener to the conversation indicated, slipped, without attracting general attention, out of the back door of the hotel, and gathering his battalion, carried out a table and a broom crate, and located on a lot for himself. The confusion created by these operations at once attracted the attention of others--prowling through the night---who wanted to know 'what was going on' and 'what 'yers going to do.' On being informed the news that the park was open to settlement, tremendous activity was manifested. Ramme, of Prof. Bach's institution gobbled cord wood enough to 'lay a foundation' and then aroused the Professor, who being accustomed to such proceedings, told the boys to keep quiet, and he would show them how to do it. He employed a wheelbarrow and labored himself, as he never did before in carrying slabs to lay 'foundations' for lots on the front street. By the time he was well under way--and nobody ever saw so many slaps carried anywhere in such a short time--Chris Hehli was aroused and put in his lick for a lot and got it. The infection spread.

Louis King and some of the boys ran the fire trap to the lot on the corner, intending as public spirited citizens, to secure an eligible place for that crazy institution (King was afterwards Chief of the Volunteer Fire Department). While the panic was at its height someone suggested that lots might be taken on the north face of the park, and the greedy speculators turned their efforts and attention to that as yet unoccupied quarter. One thoughtful dignified citizen asked if Leighton's pump did not by virtue of its location, constitute in his behalf possessory right to the 'lot' on which it stood, and being informed with intelligent promptitude that it did not, exhausted himself in an effort to loosen with his hands the screws that held it in place. Others strove to move the wagons packed on the reserve; the air was full of hush imprecations, for fear Basinski or somebody would learn what was up. Chris Hehli, after jumping on all that he thought he could hold, ran to George Reitz to waken him to catch on to some others; Jim Coleman was promised, if he would keep quiet, that he should have one. Sam O'Connell got two very advantageously situated opposite his hotel. Mr. Wilson of Helena, true as ever to the land grabbing instincts of that constituency, lit out from the hotel and gobbled a couple of lots and then, as a friend, returned and woke up Kennedy and told him of the chance to make his fortune. It is said, and on good authority, that Kennedy and Cotter and Flick stayed not upon the order of their going but went at once; Flick is reported to have been a spectacle.

Such a stampede was never known, gamblers cashed in their checks, dealers stopped their games, thirsty men dropped their glasses and even men invited to take a drink stopped not for the seductions of liquor, but lit out for the woodpile to secure the appointments for a 'foundation'. W. B. Towne, the learned and distinguished clerk of the probate court, humped himself to secure a lot, and painted his name on it so there could be no possible mistake. Judge Walker, his chief, overborne by the crush, did not arrive upon the scene until too late to secure any territory other than that one near the bridge. During the panic, some fellow thoughtful of the past, asked if Basinski had a title. The answer was a cry ringing clear and encouragingly in the midnight air: 'Basinski be da--ed. We will hold these lots till Halifax freezes over.' The ground is covered with 'foundations' laid, and it is also covered with the corpses of baffled hopes. There is one souvenir, in battered form, who contested the right of Professor Bach to the corner lot north of the Inter-Ocean. He remarked, as he and the Professor were amicably adjusting the lines, that he would be 'goronged if he didn't hold that lot' but a quiet and impressive application of a beer glass on the side of his head, gently laid him low upon the breast of his mother earth. Take it all in all, the event shows the desire of our people to locate here permanently, and take up, as far as possible, advantageous tracts of land lying within our reach. In other words, the public spirited citizens of Miles City would walk off with anything they could get hold of, not even barring a government reserve, or a red hot stove."