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Lindbergh's Billings street

One part of Charles Lindbergh's legacy in Billings is that a major street, North 27th, was named for him soon after his 1927 transatlantic flight. North 27th, which runs from Montana Avenue to Billings Logan International Airport, became Lindbergh Boulevard for several years.

The author's research failed to find the exact date when the City Council made the street-naming decision. Nor is it clear from sketchy records when the arterial reverted to its previous name.

Billings Gazette digital archives include a September 30, 1938, reference to Lindbergh Boolevard, The paper's readers were told it had become possible to drive from downtown to Exposition Avenue, next to the fair grounds, then up Black Otter Trail to the airport and back downtown on Lindbergh Boulevard.

After that, the Gazette contains no further mention of Lindbergh Boulevard until 1981 — and then it's a nostalgia piece about a veteran city councilman and longtime Billing resident who wanted to bring the name back.

On January 30 that year, the Gazette published a short item headlined, “Great idea, but.” The paper complimented Councilman Mike Kennedy for his proposal to rename North 27th to the name it once had honoring “Lucky Lindy.” (Right there, the Gazette showed some ignorance of Billings history because Lindbergh was known as “Slim” during his time in the Magic City; the “Lucky” part of his nickname was added later by national media to describe Lindbergh's survival from several brushes with death as an air mail pilot.)

“The only trouble with the change would be that most people would continue to call it ‘Airport Road’ or ‘27th Street’ — just like many still refer to Broadway as North 28th, or a shortening to Lindy Lane,” the Gazette said.

Perhaps someone on the paper's staff dug through microfilm and found a December 20, 1969, article. Its headline was “Lindbergh Lane Around Here?” Former mayor Howard Hultgren was quoted as saying that interesting. long-forgotten facts sometimes appeared in old, dry city traffic studies.

A “real stumper” from the traffic studies, he said, is Lindbergh Lane.
“Try to find that one on a city map. It's North 27th street, renamed by the city council following Charles Lindbergh's spectacular at-the-time solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean.”

To make matters more interesting, Hultgren said he was unaware of any city council action to rescind its hero-worship vote. Thus, the official name of North 27th, at least in 1969, would still be Lindbergh Lane.

A further curious item appeared in the Gazette's weather section 30 years later on October 18, 1999. The report of state extreme temperatures said the overnight low was 11 degrees at White Sulphur Springs —— and the high was 72 at Lindbergh Lane.

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Jamie Larson